Well, if you followed my last post, Growing Up and Experiential Learning, you are probably wondering how the driving lessons are going. Here’s an update on the current state of affairs.
I am pleased to report that there have been no tears (either of us) nor shouting matches, so far. In fact, Stephanie is a very good little driver, as a learner she is quick to make corrections, understands the concept of using a stick shift, and is cautious enough on one hand and bold enough on the other to make this a good learning experience.
Yesterday we did more practice driving up and down our 3/4 mile driveway, then ventured out onto the country road near our house. She made it into third gear as we moved slowly down the valley, executed a three-point turn, and drove back. Her main concern was crossing the little concrete bridge over the stream – so guard rail on either side and not that wide. I think I took three breaths the entire time.
I must admit that I am very cautious and concerned about teen driving ever since one of my classmates in High School was killed in a pickup truck which turned over on the beach. Kids having fun driving recklessly up and down the beach. Teens may be good drivers, but it’s the experience of driving they lack. A driver’s license is not the same as 5 years of driving experience, and equating cars with fun can be tragic.
When we finally pulled into the parking area below the house, she jumped out, and with a swagger of confidence and self-delight, gave me a hug and whispered – “you’re the coolest Dad.” That was my reward.
Then it was on to learning to shoot a shotgun. Let me say that I am not in favor of the lax gun laws in the US and elsewhere. I firmly believe in the right of responsible citizens to bear arms for hunting and self-defense, but being able to purchase Uzis, M-1 military rifles, AK-47s, and other weapons only designed for war and killing other people is, to me, stretching too far. Growing up we hunted quail, doves, pheasant, goose with shotguns and belonged to a gun club where we shot clay targets, but the thought of owning, or even wanting, an arsenal of military weapons at home, without any real training in the responsibilities of gun ownership, not even crossed our minds.
Today extremely dangerous weapons are available over the internet, and the consequences have been catastrophic when young teens and irresponsible adults acquire guns and kill innocent people in schools and movie theatres. This is no longer a public right, but rapidly becoming a public problem.
On the other hand, there are people who hate and wish to inflict harm on others, and learning to protect one’s self, through martial arts training, boxing training, and learning to shoot a gun are some of the life skills that I believe it is important to possess, and hopefully never need to use. A good community, working together, is a much better way to protect our freedoms from burglars and others who mean to do harm, than hiding behind barred windows with an arsenal of heavy weapons.
We have a small .410 side-by-side shotgun so Stephanie and I went into the vineyards behind the house, set up some clay roof tiles as targets, and began our education. Gun safety and understanding was the first agenda, and after a considerable amount of time on theory and safety, it was time to shoot.
We both shot up a box of shells. I had just been at a gun club in Michigan with friends a few weeks before so this was all comfortable to me. I was amazed to find Stephanie both thrilled, and highly respectful, at the power and consequences of gun ownership.
She walked away sober, respectful and confident. I walked away a proud parent. Next on the agenda, a BB gun so she can practice target shooting and understanding the finer points of gun ownership, with a much less dangerous weapon. The guns will stay at our country house in the care of our staff, but the experience will stay with her for a long time.
I would enjoy hearing of your experiences of driving and other “growing up” experiences. It might help this struggling Dad do a better job of coaching and guiding.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress