How to Stifle A Scream (and Other Teen Driving Tips)

My daughter is learning how to drive.

But, as it turns out, I’m the one getting a lesson.

I’m learning all kinds of new things, like how to stifle a scream. And that no matter how hard you push your foot into the floor, you can’t stop the car from the passenger side because there’s no brake buried in the floor mat.

I’m also learning that a sudden intake of breath at every passing car does not inspire confidence in a new driver.

You know, the kind of huge, gasping inhale you might take when you’re at the top of a rickety boardwalk roller coaster about to plunge to your death.

The weird thing about this is that my hysterical reaction has absolutely nothing to do with her driving.  She’s actually quite good.

But just knowing that my child is behind the wheel of an automobile and that other people are going to have the gall to drive right next to her (and sometimes even come at her from the opposite direction!) has my heart in my throat.

It’s Niagara Falls all over again.

A few years back, my husband and I took our two daughters – then 14 and 9 – to see the falls. We had visited early in our marriage, and I couldn’t wait to show our girls what I considered to be one of the most spectacular sites in the world.

When hubby and I visited, we spent the entire afternoon walking up and down the paths next to the rushing falls. I enjoyed every minute of it, and it lived in my memory as one of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve seen.

But then I took my children.

From the moment we got within about 15 feet, no make that 50 feet, of the roaring wall o’ water falls, my stomach felt like it was in a vice grip.

The foaming, crashing water was no longer beautiful; it was a rushing torrent of death threatening to snatch my babies.

What were these people who planned this park thinking?

A steel railing and concrete? Really? Is that the best they could do?

If they really wanted to make the falls enjoyable, they would enclose the entire thing in plexiglass and only let people watch from 100 yards away.

Millions of people have safely visited Niagara Falls, yet when standing next to it in the presence of my non-climbing, non-toddler, not-leaning-over-the-railing children, I didn’t enjoy a minute of it. All I felt was imminent danger.

It’s the same thing with the car.

Every time she gets behind the wheel, I feel like some fundamental law of nature is being violated.

What kind of insane society do we live in where people think it’s normal for my child to be in charge of a moving vehicle? And what the heck are all these other drivers doing out there? Don’t they know my baby is in that old, four-door gold car?

All those other people on the road should just go home right now and stay there so that my daughter can drive five mph and have the entire road to herself everywhere for the rest of her life.

Or better yet, maybe that plexiglass thing isn’t too far fetched. Anybody know where I can buy two tons of Lucite?

I’m sure by the time she drives me to the nursing home, this gut-wrenching feeling will have passed. But for now, please be careful people.

My heart is rolling down the highway in a gold four-door.

Lisa Earle Mcleod is an author, keynote speaker and business consultant.  Her newest book, The Triangle of Truth, has been called “a blueprint for how smart people can get better at everything.”