Can You Trust Your Grandkid’s Driving?

My son Ron, and daughter in law Martha, had booked a January Caribbean cruise. Martha, a beautiful woman with soft brown eyes had informed me over the phone the day before I was to arrive, that Kyle age sixteen was not to drive the pick-up in bad weather. But it was important for Kyle to participate in all of his wrestling matches. When I hung up the phone I acquired a twitch in me left eye, for Kyle’s school was eight miles from their home, and mentioning bad weather…

It unsettled me driving over 200 miles to Medical Lake in patches of heavy fog. I usually cocoon in the winter months and avoid stressful driving.

Eighty-four inches of snow had fallen in Spokane and surrounding areas a month ago. Today the ice crystals on the power lines had caused power outages and when I arrived at their house, the house felt as if I had walked into an igloo.

The power was back on when everyone came home from work and school, and after dinner we had a nice visit and instructions on when and were, to drive Tyler age eleven to the bus stop every day. I did a quick mental calculation on how many road trips I was to undertake in my weekday task.

The next morning at 4:30 I rolled out of bed, dressed and the last thing I did was put cataract medicine in my eyes. The drops, a homeopathic product claimed it might delay the worsening of night blindness, seeing red spots and halos around lights.

At five the fog had cleared and the luggage packed in the back of the SUV.

Kyle slipped into the driver’s seat. A handsome young man of sixteen with dark wavy hair and his deep blue piercing eyes made many young ladies swoon. His interest though, was in sports; wrestling, motocross, karate and a profound love for his corvette, which needed a few repairs that kept him busy when the snow wasn’t two feet deep. He had an emotional attachment wanting to drive all the time, driving made him feel free, so he said.

A couple years ago Kyle ran his dad over with his dirt bike.. A quick visit to an ophthalmologist revealed Kyle had a stigmatism that made everything seem further away then they actually were, and with prescription contact lenses corrected his vision.

Ron slid in the front seat next to his son, and Martha and I crept sleepily in the back seat. I was relieved when Kyle took the driver seat, since I didn’t like driving at nights.

Kyle began backing out. With one sharp swerve he didn’t quite make the turn because I had parked my car to close to their vehicles.  He had to pull forward and try backing out again.

“Get out!” His father said, and they switched seats.

Ron clipped a few snow mounds and drove speedily around the loop. He slammed to a halt when the car faced the road, opened the door and tore out of his seat as if on a mission, and said to Kyle, “Drive!”

The dirt driveway extended one fifth of a mile and no sooner had Kyle driven a hundred feet when his father said, “Kinda driving like a drunk…you’re weaving all over the place.”

“I haven’t driven for months.” Kyle said defensively.

A mile down the road Kyle was making a left turn and his father hollered, “Power through the corner you’re going to slow.”

“Not that fast Kyle!” shouted his mother from the back seat.

I used my invisible brake.

“You need to step on it…you can go five above the speed limit.”

Oh boy, I thought, Ron sounded just like his dad.

“Turn right-watch out-you’re to close to that ice patch -can’t you see it?”

The two-lane road had suddenly turned into a three one-way lane.

“You might be okay staying in the right lane.” Ron said. Then quickly changed his mind and said, “You’re going to need to be in the other lane.”

Kyle looked in the rear view mirror, and with heavy traffic closing in on him, floored the gas before changing lanes.

Panic shot out of Ron. “Slow down! You’re going 45 in a 25-mile zone- go left!”

Kyle veered left to the center lane cutting off two cars at once.

We all screeched.

My son known for his exceptional communicational skills, muddled confused instructions to Kyle.

Regally sat Kyle, so steadfast in his driving with no hint of stress, and he appeared oblivious from unwanted distraction driving in the middle of two lanes.

By now my son’s eyes were as big as golf balls jabbing his finger uncontrollably at a lane.

“Get in a lane!”  His dad managed to shout with spittle spraying the dashboard.

“You’re not driving home!” His mom said in a horrified voice.

I clawed for the door handle ready to jump out in case I couldn’t take the excitement any more.

Kyle driving on one lane now kept circling the airport waiting for more directions.

“Get in the right lane…son.” Ron said with a careworn voice.

After the third loop around the airport, Kyle spotted the Delta sign above the building and stopped at the passenger terminal.

Ron and Martha dashed out of the SUV, grabbed the suitcases from the back, and after quick hugs and kisses, they fled inside the building.

I busied myself adjusting the driver seat when Kyle climbed into the passenger side.

“Gosh…I didn’t know mom was that strong.”

“How so?”

“She carried the suitcases and…and… dad was clutching his thumbs.”

“A thumb carrier…hmm…hope they weren’t to heavy,” I said chuckling. “I think your driving scared your dad witless.”

“Naw-he always acts like that when I drive…want me to drive?”

“No, your mom said not for you to drive home.”

I drove from the terminal eagle eying all the signs. Gradually the road opened into four lanes.

“I can’t see the headlights on the road-are they on?”

“Those headlights aren’t very good.”

“Now you tell me.”

“Uh grandma, you want to be in the left lane.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah so you can-ah you just passed Flint.”

“Can I turn around?”

“No this is a one way. Look that sign says highway 2 you’re next left.”

“Okay, where?”

“Uh grandma, you passed 2.”

A couple minutes went by when there was another sign reading highway 2.

“Look we got a third chance… aah dang it grandma-you just passed that one too.”

“Do you have your contact lenses on?”

“Naw-I forgot.”

I burst out laughing, relieved my hearing wasn’t in a delay mode from stress. I saw a break in the road and made a quick u-turn, which took us back toward the airport. A few minutes later I spotted the highway 2 sign, made my turn and drove cautiously down the road.

“You can go faster grandma-it’s 55 here.”

“I’m doing fine.”

“No you’re not-you’re only going 30.”

“Thirty is good.”

When we arrived home, Kyle said “Well, that was fun.”

I smiled with both eyes twitching now.

All week when I drove Tyler to his bus stop, the dense fog dusted trees, power lines and cars with frost, and with the roads dry I let Kyle drive the pick-up to school, wrestling practice, and wrestling matches. And every morning I said to Kyle, “I TRUST YOUR DRIVING.”

HELENE THOMAS

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