MidReal Story

Dad's Driving Dilemma: Teenage Turbulence on Wheels

Scenario: A comedy bit about a man and his 16 year old daughter as she gets driving hours toward earning her drivers permit
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A comedy bit about a man and his 16 year old daughter as she gets driving hours toward earning her drivers permit
I can’t believe I’m doing this.
I’m not ready for this.
I don’t want to do this.
But I have to do this.
It’s my job as a father.
It’s my duty as a parent.
It’s the law.
I have to teach my daughter how to drive.
And I’m not ready for it.
I’m not ready for her to grow up so fast, but here we are, in an empty parking lot, and I’m about to let her get behind the wheel of my car for the very first time.
She’s only sixteen, but she’s been waiting for this day since she was twelve years old, and I’ve been dreading it since the day she was born.
She’s so excited, and I’m so scared, but we’re going to do this together because that’s what fathers do for their daughters, right?
They teach them how to drive even when they don’t want them to?
They let them grow up even when they wish they could stay little forever?
They give them the keys even when they want to keep them locked away forever?
I ask her even though I’m not ready.
I’ll never be ready.
She grins at me, and I can’t help but grin back even though my heart is pounding, and I’m sweating through my shirt.
I take a step back and gesture toward the car as I swallow the lump in my throat.
“I guess there’s no time like the present.”
She bounces over to the driver’s side, and I watch her for a moment, my heart swelling as I think about how proud I am of her.
She’s growing up so fast, and I know she’s going to be amazing at whatever she does because that’s who she is.
She’s smart and resilient and beautiful, and she’s going to do big things in this world.
She’s going to go to college and have a career and fall in love, and it all starts today with her first driving lesson.
I’m so proud of her, but I’m also scared out of my mind.
“Just remember what I taught you,” I say as she slides into the driver’s seat.
She rolls her eyes at me.
“I told you, Dad, we already did that stuff in driver’s ed.”
I know, but I want to make sure you remember it,” I say again.
She sighs loudly.
Dad, please don’t be like this.She reaches for her seatbelt and pulls it across her chest.
I take a step back and hold out my hand because I want to take one last look at her permit.
It feels like just yesterday we were changing her diapers, and now she’s old enough to get behind the wheel of a car all by herself.
Let me see it,” I say with a grin that feels forced even though it’s not.
John Smith,” I say with a chuckle as I shake my head in disbelief.
You know what that means?”
she asks as she takes the permit from my hand.
She slides it into her wallet and then throws her arms around my neck.
That means you have to let me drive.”
I swallow hard as my heart pounds in my chest.
It means I have no choice.” My voice is tight as I speak the words I’ve been dreading since the day she was born.
I close my eyes against the sting of tears as I wrap my arms around her small frame.
I can do this,” she says softly against my ear as she hugs me tightly.
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It all started when she turned sixteen and decided she wanted to learn how to drive.
She asked me if we could go out and practice together, and I told her no way because the idea of my baby behind the wheel terrified the shit out of me.
I said we could wait until the summer when there was more time, and then when summer came, I told her we could wait until school was out so we could practice during the week because the roads were too crowded on the weekends.
But when school was out, I told her we could wait until after the Fourth of July because the holiday traffic was too crazy, and then after the Fourth, I told her we could wait until after Labor Day because the summer traffic was even worse.
As the months passed, I kept coming up with more and more reasons to stall because I was scared to death to let her get behind the wheel, and besides, it was just easier to keep putting it off than to face my fears and teach her how to drive.
I told her it was too expensive to add her to our insurance policy and that she’d have to wait until she had a job so she could help pay for it herself.
I said she could wait for her friend Lisa to get her license so they could take turns driving each other around, and then she convinced Lisa to teach her after she got her own license because they’d both be better drivers that way.
I said she’d have to ask her mother first, and then she came home and informed me that my wife had suggested that I take Emily out for a driving lesson as an early birthday present.
At first, I thought my wife was joking, but then Emily showed me the text message where my wife literally said that if Emily wanted to learn how to drive, then maybe her father should be the one to teach her.
My wife thought she was being funny, but I didn’t find the joke very amusing, and I told Emily no way in hell.
But when she got that look on her face—the one that said she wouldn’t take no for an answer—I finally caved and agreed to give her a driving lesson on the condition that we’d only do it once and then I’d make her mother take her the rest of the time.
And now here we are, and I’m about to let Emily get behind the wheel of my car for the very first time because I promised her we’d do this together even though I don’t want her to grow up and I don’t want her to drive and I don’t want her to leave me, not even for a few minutes.
“Can we go already?”
she asks as she leans over and unlocks the passenger door.
“I have plans later.”
“What plans?”
I frown as I follow her around the car.
“We just talked about this,” she says as she rolls her eyes again.
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“It’s only a few minutes,” she says.
“Can’t it wait?”
I ask, stalling while I try to remember if there’s anything else I’m forgetting to tell her.
“Why do you have to go out right away?”
“Because Lisa is waiting for me,” she says.
“Don’t be such a baby, Dad.It’ll be fine.”
“I’m not being a baby,” I say.
“I’m just… I… Are you sure you’re ready to do this?”
“Yes, I’m sure!”
she says as she throws open the door and climbs into the driver’s seat.
“You’re the one who’s acting like a baby.” She slides the key into the ignition and glares at me until I reluctantly climb into the passenger seat beside her.
I tried to convince her to let me drive myself so she could see how it’s done, but she said she didn’t need me to do that and that it would be more fun if she did it herself, so I guess I’ll have to live with the consequences of her decision.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
It’s not like she can crash into anything if we’re just sitting in the driveway, right?
“Now what?”
“Put your foot on the brake,” I say.
She looks down at her feet and then up at me.
I point my foot to the left and press down on the pedal.
She glares at me as she slowly moves her foot off the gas and onto the brake.
“Now put it in reverse,” I tell her.
“This is so stupid,” she grumbles as she does what I tell her.
Her hands are shaking so much that I’m worried she might lose control of the steering wheel, but luckily we’re still in park.
“I don’t want to do this anymore,” she says.
“Can I just take my driving test next year instead?”
“It doesn’t work like that,” I tell her as I reach over and put my hand on top of hers.
“Now take a deep breath and slowly let your foot off the brake.”
“But what if—” She bites her lip as she looks over her shoulder at the street behind us.
“It’s okay,” I tell her as I gently guide her foot off the gas and onto the brake.
“But—” She looks at me and shakes her head.
“It’ll be okay,” I promise as I put my hand on hers again and slowly press down on the pedal.
“There’s nothing back there except for garbage cans and other cars.There are no people around to run over, and besides, we’d have to worry about other cars even if you were a passenger because it’s too late to stop now anyway, right?
So just relax and put it in drive.”
I’m so nervous about teaching Emily how to drive that I can barely sleep all week.
Every time I close my eyes, all I can think about is my own mortality and how much danger I’ll be in when Emily gets behind the wheel with only a few hours of driving practice under her belt.
For a while, I almost considered asking my wife to take her out for her driving lessons instead, but then I remembered how scary it is to be in a car with someone who doesn’t know how to drive yet, and now all I can think about is how much worse it would be if Emily crashes into something while Lisa is in the backseat distracting her with stupid questions that make her take her eyes off the road.
So instead, I decided to take a few days off work so we could start practicing in an empty parking lot over the weekend before we move on to driving around my neighborhood.
My plan was to let Emily get a feel for how the car moves without worrying about running into anything right away, and then once she has a little confidence built up, we’ll move on to other things.
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