Summer kicked off with a bang in our household: Our son is learning to drive.
Just yesterday, it seems, Sol was taking his first wobbly steps. Now, his feet — 15 years older and considerably larger — are learning how to press the gas and brake pedals while he simultaneously tries to hold the steering wheel steady and listen to his parents’ attempts at calm driving instruction. (And we had thought him learning to skateboard was nerve-wracking).
“Let’s use Dad’s car,” I said on the first day of driving lessons. I climbed into my husband’s backseat, and he drove us to an empty parking lot near Santa Monica Airport. As the guys switched seats, I texted family and friends the prayer emoji, then hit record as my husband, Marcus, launched into instructor mode, explaining the pedals and their purposes. If the kid was nervous, he sure didn’t show it. School had let out the day before and he was ready. “I’ll be driving in no time,” he bragged. “Maybe even by the end of today!”
Fake it ‘til you make it, they say.
“Alright, now look forward and put your foot on the gas just a little bit — a little bit — and I’ll tell you where to go,” Marcus said, his voice a deep, soothing lullaby. “Go slow.”
Instead, the car jerked forward, speeding toward a building in the not-too-far distance.
“Slower,” Marcus said, less calm.
Sol slowed, but I watched in amazement as his head turned to his left to gaze out the side window as though he were enjoying the scenery. As though he had been driving for ages.
“Ok,” Marcus said, calling his attention back to the scene in front of the windshield. “Now, put your foot on the brake slowly.”
“Slowly,” he said again for emphasis.
What happened next is captured on my phone, which, miraculously, did not fly toward the windshield as Sol braked so hard it felt like we’d hit a brick wall. Whiplashed and wheezing (I was trying to suppress my laughter), I watched as Sol, tickled, too, let go of the steering wheel and bent over it, laughing.
But his foot was still on the gas. And the car…the car was still moving.
Luckily, my husband’s reflexes were sharper than mine as he looked from my son back to the windshield and saw us floating closer toward the building.
“No, watch it! Put your foot on the brake!”
I’m happy to report that our bang was not a collision, just an uproariously funny moment I hope we’ll always remember.
How are you and your family spending the summer — and what (or who) is driving it? We invite you to use our summer fun issue to help you make it more memorable.
And let summertime put on the brakes for a while.
Cassandra Lane is Editor-in-Chief of L.A. Parent and author of “We Are Bridges: A Memoir.”