I’ll Follow You

As you may have determined, my poor mother who is probably about ready to kill me, was just a tad protective.  My aunt is the one, who thought of this story, and it is funny in a way and we laugh about it now. 🙂

An exciting time in any young person’s life is getting their driver’s license.  I was no different.  My parents sent me to Driver’s Ed the summer before I turned 16.  Driver’s Ed was fun, easy, and nerve-racking all at the same time.  You see I had no problem with driving and the instructor only commented that I was cautious which I don’t think is too bad.  Of course my car had the scary driver in it.  You know the type where they hit the gas instead of the brake. 🙂  I think our instructor about lost it when that happened.

I was not that scary driver.  Of course my dad might comment that I was scary in my own way.  For example, if I didn’t need to cross a centerline, I wouldn’t.  I drove my mom’s Buick Regal down a road with parked cars on it and didn’t cross the centerline once.  Dad actually brought his arm in which he had been hanging out the window.  I made him a little nervous.  When we got to my destination, my mom started criticizing me in front of my grandparents.  Dad had a nervous laugh over it while we were there and was more teasing me.  I asked a simple question, “Did I hit anything? The answer is no, and I knew that there was room for the car and had no need to cross the centerline, so why would I.”  Grandma (GmaS) sided with me which put an end to the discussion. She was great about that. 😉

Anyway, I flew through Driver’s Ed without any trouble and at some point close to my birthday my dad and I went car shopping.  Dad was looking for something in good condition that looked sporty, but without the cost of a sports car.  I was just excited to get a car.  Honestly, I think getting me a car was more for dad than me.  My father had been hauling my behind to/from school for band practice, games, competitions, clubs, etc through junior high and high school.  At least my high school was only 15 minutes away (the junior high was over 30 minutes away).  🙂

We found a 1987 Plymouth Duster in red of course that I fell in love with and dad liked as well.  It looked sporty, but wasn’t a sports car which meant the price was reasonable.  This became my car and was promptly named Little Red.  Dad had a red pickup at the time which he called Red…he soon got another vehicle, but the name stuck with my car.

Luckily my birthday fell such that I didn’t get my license until the weather was nice out, so I could get a whole spring, summer, and fall behind the wheel before dealing with snow.  I still remember my first time driving.  This was before cell phones, so I had no way to let my mom know I was ok until I returned home.  I am sure she worried the whole time.

Anyway, my first drive was up to the general store that my other Grandma (GmaB) worked in.  I drove up there and spent some time with her.  It was a Thursday and little did I know I was there on delivery day.  I stood talking to GmaB while she put price tags on items and stocked the shelves.  She was the only one working, so she had to take care of the register too.  Well, stocking is in my wheel house.  I love organizing things.  So, while she took care of a customer, I stocked the shelves for her.  When she returned, she was a little surprised, but I had done it correctly by moving the old stock to the front and every single can was turned in exactly the same direction.

Before the next customer arrived, GmaB showed me where the price was on the next box and how to set the machine.  So, I just continued on stocking the shelves.  I loved it and GmaB was happy for the help.  After that, I went down there every Thursday that summer to help with the stocking.  Most of the time it was for free, but every now and then I’d get $20 from GmaB for helping out without being asked.  She said it was gas money for coming down there.

Fridays I spent at GmaS’ house taking her to the store and wherever she needed to go.  We played Yatzee and ate lunch together which usually consisted of Totino’s pizza.  I loved spending time with both of my grandma’s.

Time flew by and school was back in session.  I was driving to school every day and made sure before I left that the calendar was up to date with my after school activities.  The snow came early that year and we got some snow in December.  I woke up to about 2 inches on the ground.  Not much at all, but enough to panic my mom.  The normal routine in our house in the morning was dad was up first and then I got up at 6 am.  My job before walking out the door was to wake mom up.  This was back when alarm clocks only had one setting.  I know the dark ages.  It was easier for me to get mom up than for dad to reset the alarm clock.

Dad told me before he left for work to be careful and take my time getting to school.  He also suggested leaving at 6:30 am instead of 6:45 am to ensure that I had enough time.  He may have been nervous about me driving in the snow, but he didn’t show it.  Dad told me that what would be, would be and if I got in an accident, that we could fix the car and just relax and drive smart.

Dad left and mom was up.  I think he knew what was brewing and got out of there.  Mom first said, “You’re not driving today.  You’re taking the bus.”  To which I replied, “Of course I’m driving to school today.  I refuse to take the bus.  I hate that bus.  Plus dad is fine with me driving.”  My bus went through a bad neighborhood.  We lived in a safe area, but there were just a few of us over there, so we got stuck with the bus that went through the bad trailer park.  I had some trouble in the past with bullies on the bus, so I was not eager to get back on that bus.  I had the taste of freedom.

I told mom that dad said for me to leave a little earlier and that I would be fine.  Mom, not wanting to undermine dad, found another way to make sure I was ok.  She said, “Fine! I’ll follow you.”  I was flabbergasted, “What? To school? Nobody else’s mom is following them.  You can’t do this to me.”  She said, “It’s that or the bus.”  I then realized the time…Dad had told me to leave at 6:30 am and it was 6:10 am.  I could get ready in 20 minutes, but could mom?

I said, “I’m not riding the bus.  If you want to follow me, fine! I will not be late to school though.  Dad told me to leave at 6:30 am and that is the time I will walk out the door.  You want to follow me?  You have 20 minutes to get ready.”  It’s funny now, but I was hopping mad.  Mom was just worried.

Miraculously, my mother was ready at 6:30 am.  I have no idea how she did it.  Knowing her, she probably didn’t put her make-up on until she got to work.  So, out we headed.  I had to clean off my car since it sat outside, but I was ready to go in no time.  Mom said she was ready and for me to lead.

I was nervous, but I kept my head like dad told me.  I put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway.  I pulled forward to the stop sign on the street and waited for mom.  When I saw her behind me I took off.  Our road’s speed limit is 45 mph, and I gradually increased to 35 mph.  I was comfortable at that speed and the car was fine.  It was not slipping or sliding.  All was good.  I decided to look to see how mom was doing.

Let’s just say not well. 😉  Hee-hee.  You see my car was front wheel drive and hers was rear wheel drive.  This means that my car had the weight of the engine on the tires with the power.  Moms’ car however did not and add on top of that that dad hadn’t put weights in the back of mom’s car yet, so she had no weight on those tires at all.

I was fairly confident in the road ahead, but I couldn’t leave her, so I slowed a bit and watched her in my rear view mirror.  Mom’s car was fish-tailing like you wouldn’t believe.  She had absolutely no traction at all.  I was just thinking “Ha! My car is just fine!”

Once we got to the busy intersection at the end of the road, I could no longer hang back or I would affect other drivers, so I said to myself “Self do you what you need to do to get to school safe and sound.  Do not cause an accident by driving too slow.  Mom is an adult and can take care of herself.”  I did just that.  The light turned green and I took off.  I glanced back and mom was still at the intersection spinning her tires.  Hee-hee. Poor mom!  This wasn’t turning out how she thought it would.

I drove the rest of the way to school which wasn’t that far.  Mom followed the whole way with her car fish-tailing the whole way.  I pulled in the school parking lot, and mom pulled in to go out the other entrance to get turned around.  When I walked in school, several people walked up and asked me if my mom followed me to school.  I said yes, but my car was better and I don’t think she’ll do it again.  Most kids left at that because they all knew my mom and how protective she was.  I just had to endure teasing from a small lot which I could handle.  They were friends and I would certainly rib them a bit if they’re parents even thought to do the same.

After school, I headed home.  The roads were clear by then, and dad asked how it went.  We got home around the same time.  His eyes twinkled when I told him mom followed me to school.  He asked how that went.  I said, “I had no trouble, but mom fish-tailed the whole way.”  Dad was a little worried that he had forgotten to put weights in the back of mom’s car.

When she got home, we asked her how her morning drive was.  Her reply?  To dad, “You need to put weights in the back of my car.”  To me, “Don’t ever drive away from me again when I’m following you.  You were going too fast.”  I had already told dad of my speeds and that I traveled with traffic, so I knew I had backup if needed.  I just simply replied that I did not want to cause an accident by not traveling with traffic because I was waiting for you to catch up. I then dropped it.  Mom hadn’t thought of that.

After that whenever it snowed; my mom may have been concerned about me driving, but she never followed me again.  In fact, my mom would beg me to let her drive my car.  I think this did two things, she knew I wasn’t driving and she got a better car in snow.  The only drawback for her was I still wouldn’t ride the bus, so I said “Fine, but you have to take me to school and I’ll get my friends to drive me home.  Also, please don’t make me late because I don’t want to get into trouble.”  Mom agreed knowing that more than likely the roads would be fine for the drive home, but she was putting my life in my friends’ hands instead of mine.  It is a thought that has always occurred to me.

And so that’s how it went all winter.  It would snow and mom would steal my car.

I don’t want people to think that my mom and I fought all the time.  We didn’t and we probably weren’t even close most of the time.  This is a story that we laugh about now. 🙂  I think in general we picked our battles.  Most of the time I had no problem with respecting my elder’s decisions, but in certain instances like this one, I wasn’t giving in.  Riding the bus was like a death sentence to me.  I had put up with it for four years and I didn’t feel like I should have to deal with that any more because I had my own car.  Although at some point during the year, I did make “friends” with the people who previously picked on me.  Helping out their friends with class work helped with that. 🙂

The moral of my story is please parents who are worried about their children driving in inclement weather for the first time and there’s only 2 inches on the ground…relax and trust your kids.  Every time they drive, it is a learning experience and that is how we grow up.  As my dad said, a car can be fixed and just tell them to use their heads.  Please don’t follow them to school and embarrass them.  For some kids, that could cause a major uproar in their school life where you just try to fit in.