Learning Curb

My experience with learning how to drive

Zadie Tenpenny, Writer

I always knew that one day, I’d be driving a car. What I didn’t know was how soon it would be. 

My dad was the first person to take me driving. I was 13. He’s a professional truck driver, so he knows the rules of the road better than anyone. I was nervous about driving his truck, thinking he’d yell at me while I was driving, but he was the opposite. He was calm and collected. He simply made suggestions when I did something wrong. He made me less nervous and a better driver. However, my mom was furious that I went out driving because I was so young. I didn’t touch the steering wheel after that, afraid that I’d upset her again.

Fast forward to today, I’m 14 with a three-week-old permit. I also have my mom’s old 2007 Toyota Corolla, whose engine breaks down from time to time. I used to loathe the car because it was small and cramped. Now I love it because it easily fits on the road and in parking spaces. Slowly it’s starting to feel less like my mom’s car and more like mine. 

I ask to drive every single time we go to the grocery store, the park, any restaurant —  basically anywhere my parents let me. When people ask me if I enjoy driving, I say yes without hesitation. 

I don’t let on that I’m really nervous when driving. Sometimes I feel like pulling off to the side of the road just to take a break from the anxiety. It’s not like I’m a bad driver. I have no reason to be nervous, but being in control of a huge piece of machinery is such a different feeling. 

I love having my mom in the passenger seat, though my dad and she are opposites. My dad sits calmly while I drive while my mom hugs the side of the car like her life depends on it. And maybe she thinks it does. 

She often tells me she’s terrified I’ll end up driving on top of curbs because I tend to hug them. She’s also nervous when the radio is on because I might not be as careful. She does think I take constructive criticism pretty well, so I don’t think I’m all that bad.

Even so, my mom has been very supportive of me driving. We’ve bonded by laughing about how we each act while I’m driving. Through driving, I’ve learned that I’m not as laid back as I thought I was. I get irritated very easily if I miss a turn or if someone is driving below the speed limit. I even get frustrated when my four-year-old sister tells me there’s a red light, when I know she’s just trying to help. Recently, I’ve started to try and take deep breaths and think about how my mood affects others. An angry driver is not a safe driver, and I refuse to be reckless. With all that being said, I’m more than grateful that my family encourages me and gives me criticism when I drive.