posted by Matt W on November 28th, 2012

My daughter just picked up her drivers permit a few weeks ago.


Young kids out on the road freak me out. Between their incessant texting and their general lack of awareness, it’s a miracle there aren’t more accidents. My daughter knows that if I ever catch her texting and driving, she won’t drive again until after college. As with all the other aspects of their lives, my three children are all very different, but this is especially true when it comes to their natural driving feel and ability. Thankfully, my daughter seems to fit right in the middle.

Probably the closest I have come to death was with my oldest behind the wheel when he had his permit. He was uncomfortable behind the wheel when he first got started. He was driving on the highway and as a semi-truck started to move over a bit, my son chose speeding up and crashing into the upcoming concrete bridge abutment, over slowing down and honking his horn. He was freaked out.  I reached over and honked the horn. And in a move that combined the cool level-headed action and cat-like reflexes that I’ve only seen exhibited by Steve Irwin when dealing with a large croc, I grabbed the steering wheel with my left hand and drove through the infinitesimally small gap between the semi and the bridge rail while telling my son that letting off the gas would indeed be much appreciated. Needless to say we stopped at the next exit and he “took a break” from driving. He was almost 17 when he finally got around to getting his license.

My middle child was exactly opposite. While fairly shy and reserved in most aspects of life, like never going and talking to teachers or applying for the perfect job, he mystically grew a second “set” while driving and drove like Mario Andretti on the streets of Monaco. Mario Andretti once said in an interview, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” My son used this as his driving mantra. He especially liked to tailgate the car in front of him, which needless to say is not a favorite driving skill of mine. I can’t tell you how many times I said to him while he was driving, “the brake is the one on the left; you might want to try it out sometime.” Usually followed by, “It is no longer an option, if you want to drive my car ever again, SLOW DOWN.” He got his license the day he turned 16.

My daughter seems to be right in the middle. She is far more cautious in her first few weeks of driving than her middle brother, but seems to feel pretty comfortable behind the wheel. My problem with her is that she wants to drive all the time. She also likes driving my car better than she likes driving my wife’s SUV, so I seem to get double duty. Seriously girl, I’ve only had four years to recover from your racing-demon brother, between each driving episode give me a few days to recover.  God only knows, I don’t have the steely nerves or cat like reflexes I used to.

File Under King of the Castle, Mr. Cool