Saturday, November 18, 2006

On the Job Training: Motherhood - Behind the Wheel

There's a soccer mom in a driving an unwieldy minivan, SUV or H3 - get out of the way!

True, lots of families are opting for the bigger vehicles to accomodate their family load. Car seats are the biggest instigator towards the need for room. Once you have 2 car seats in a sedan, it's impossible to get another passenger in there, unless they're Lilliputian.

Anyway, we've managed to stay clear of the minivan, though I always wanted an SUV. However, I test drove a few and felt they were too big for me. I'm only 5'2" and felt overpowered by this. machine behind me. My friend who is barely 5' loves her van and says that it makes her feel more powerful. Interesting.

By the way, we have a sexy silver station wagon now. The station wagon is our vehicle of choice because you get the space in the back and comfort of driving a car. I can call our wagon 'sexy' because Angelina Jolie drove it in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." So, yes, I often get mistaken for Angelina when I'm driving it. (not!)

~ Behind the Wheel of a Large Automobile ~
I had learned to drive in my father's ugly green station wagon. He bought it used for a steal and we kept it as a 3rd car. He said, "Learn to drive in this and you'll be able to drive anything." True. Just because I can, doesn't mean I like driving everything.

When I was in college, my mom's friend asked me to drop her to the Trenton (NJ) train station in her minivan and just take it home. Sounded easy enough. However, she took me to the station by an unfamiliar route and once I got there, I was disoriented. I started going the wrong way and ended up in the 'not-so-nice' area of downtown Trenton. The problem with "not-so-nice" areas is you don't know who to ask, where to stop or what to do. So, I kept driving around until I found streets that I recognized. Driving a huge vehicle I had never driven before made being lost more stressful.

By the way, just because someone owns a large vehicle does not mean they know how to drive it. Minivans and SUV's are parked haphazardly or they are driven too slowly or too fast. We had friends who traded their Toyota Sienna for a Camry. He said, "This was to make it safer for the people in our town." Apparently, his wife had banged way too many cars trying to park the monstrosity! I congratulate them for acknowledging that big cars are not for everyone.

~Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, Yeah! ~
I have an excellent driving record. I received one speeding ticket when we were on our college road trip (my friends were great and all split the costs because they knew they egged me on to speed). I've been stopped a few times, but have been fortunate to avoid tickets.

~ Parallel Universes ~
I'll publicly admit I had to take my driver's exam twice. The first time I failed and cried uncontrollably. My father assured me that it was fine and he and my mom had failed the first time. "So, it runs in the family!?" I wailed.

The examiner said I did not stop at the sign (bullsh*t!!) and I messed up parallel parking (so I almost knocked over a cone, it didn't fall did it?). My father and I worked on parallel parking in the big green station wagon. Second time I tested, I sailed through it. I made sure the examiner felt it when I stopped.

At my daughter's daycare, they had a circular driveway for drop off and a parking lot on the side. With small children, you want to park close to the front door. So, you had cars, minivans and SUV's moving in and out of the circular driveway. This is where I truly learned to parallel park! It's cold, rainy, and there's just one spot in front of the door, in between two vans. I would suck it up and park, for my daughter's sake. Now, when I find myself gliding into available parking spots without thinking about it. So the protective instincts of motherhood helped me park!

Now, my daughter takes the bus to KG. We have a long driveway, almost like a private road that leads into our development of 4 houses. The school bus comes at the end of the driveway. She and I will walk or drive, depending on the weather. After she leaves, I'll drive in reverse and back into my first neighbor's driveway, and turn so I could drive forward to my house. I realized my reverse driving skills are improving and now I'm backing into parking spaces, which I always thought was too painful to do.

Again, motherhood is helping my driving skills! So, hopefully some of the misdirected minivan drivers will improve over time.


Anonymous said...

Don't feel so bad about having to take the driving test twice. In NJ I took it 5 times (that's 3 written and 2 driving), in California 2 times (both written) and in Italy 3 times (one oral and 2 driving)
I feel like I've been taking driving tests all my life!
P.S I've seen too many SUVs drive over curbs, tailgate, change lanes suddenly without signaling and parking badly and using 2 parking spaces because they don't know how to drive a car that big. I think there shuld be a special driving test for all of the people who buy them.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Hummers and SUVs, many petite 130 pound women with glasses as large as their head can be seen driving these things. Is this a new power thing? As in beauty and the SUV? I really don't care though, they are all pretty to look at.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to add, a petite woman in an SUV is akin to a woman wearing the man's shirt in the morning after a very eventful night. It is kinda bold and sexy in a way.