He hit the front seat. I went to the back.
In one of the more potentially dangerous rites of passage in which I am likely ever to participate, I handed Aidan the keys to our Toyota Corolla, got into the seat behind him and breathed deeply.
He had a freshly-minted learner’s permit after a trip to the Niles division of Illinois’ Registry of Motor Vehicles. Aidan patiently braved the vicissitudes of the bureaucracy, which, frankly, were relatively mild-two return trips to Marge, a clear-eyed woman with glasses who had trouble moving from her chair.
He had been supremely confident before the test, scoffing at how easy the questions were and identifying two rules:
1. If the answer contains ” all of the above” as an answer, it is invariably correct.
2. The answer to all long questions is always True.
These rules and Aidan’s common sense served him well enough to pass the test, but not by as wide a margin as he had anticipated.
We returned home- I, despite my initial suggestion that he tried to take me up on, did not let him drive – and he was ready for action.
It was action indeed.
Both Mom and Spencer, a dear friend from college, independently asked me if I wore my bicycle helmet while Aidan was driving.
I didn’t, and he did fine, but there were a couple of close calls.
To begin, he had to get used to the Corolla’s breaks and gas pedal, both of which are very sensitive. Aidan’s application of both gave my neck a good workout and helped me understand better what my Driver’s Ed. teacher Mr. Gianonne had meant when he would nod, “Yes,” after a particularly vigorous step on the break.
That was not so bad as his understandable tendency to veer uncomfortably close to cars that were parked on the street. Fortunately, the one to which we came closest did not have its mirror out, so we and it emerged unscathed.
By his own later admission, Aidan was a bit scared, so he drove with appropriate caution. He forgot to signal, ran into a curb or two and took turns a bit wide, but generally acquitted himself just fine, was ready for his class and actually turned down an opportunity to drive later in the evening to pick up something at CVS.
I remember vividly his move from the back seat to the front passenger seat at age 12, and how it took him a while to rid himself of the habit, deeply entrenched after years of practice, of walking to the back.
Now he’s behind the wheel.
Dunreith and I ran into a friend on the street, heard about her kids and told her about this latest stage of Aidan’s development.
“Boy, you two are old,” she said.
She’s right, of course.
Right now, old feels pretty good.