“I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.” Julia Cameron
My oldest son, Brendan, and I share many of the same traits, unfortunately, a bad temper is one of our shared traits. Brendan turned 16 this past October, old enough to get his “L” to learn to drive. We didn’t get around to him writing his test for the “L” until this past month. I’m not sure whose idea it was for me to teach Brendan to drive, but we added extra insurance to my vehicle and I was given the job to teach Brendan the rules of the road.
Our first day driving together, I get in the truck give him the tour of the gadgets on the dashboard and off we go. From the moment he steps on the gas and down our street to the stop sign, my heart is in my mouth. He was driving too fast and stopped too late at the stop sign. I’m all over it, telling him to slow down, be more cautious, focus and yelling at him to stop. Not a good start and when I get home after teaching him that day, the first thing I said to my husband when I walked through the front door was “I can’t do this.” “You can’t do what?” “Drew I can’t teach Brendan to drive.” “Why not?” “Because I fear for my life.” At this, Drew gives me a big belly laugh and he says, “Don’t be ridiculous, you can do this, you can teach him to drive.” “No I can’t, I can’t teach him to drive, it was a stupid idea for me to teach him, you need to teach him.” Since I drive the boys to school every day, they are with me in the car all the time, it is logical that I teach him, but from the beginning my perspective has been that this situation is not working.
Negative I know and coming from the person who wrote “The Power of Positive”, I really needed to go back and read my own advice. Digging deep I had to admit I was very nervous and reacting to my son’s emotions. Brendan is 16 going on 40 and he thinks he knows everything, like he knows how to drive yet he’s never driven before. Since I am an empath, I tend to take on other’s emotions and dealing with his cocky, know-it-all attitude in the car was completely draining me and if I am to be honest, I was all over him for things that hadn’t even happened yet because I knew how he would react. This was not working in my, nor Brendan’s favour, and we were fighting non-stop. Everyday I would say “this is going to work” and at the end of every day I would be saying “this is not going to work.”
After school one day, Brendan was driving and we had to stop at the drugstore to pick up a few things. Brendan pulls into the drugstore parking lot too fast and pulls one of his cocky manoeuvres. Finishing off a very busy day at work and feeling tired and irritable, his driving set me off and I was all over him. When we finally parked, I kicked him out of the truck and told him he wasn’t driving home and for that matter I wasn’t teaching him. He reacted to my outburst, and the two of us got out of the truck and we were yelling at the top of our lungs at each other across the top of the truck about the driving situation. Brendan and I are alike in that when we lose our cool we lose all perspective and neither one of us care about who is around, who is listening and what their thoughts are. Needless to say, we put on quite the show for everyone going to the drugstore that day. I was so mad I went around to the driver’s side and decided to abandon shopping and jumped in the truck. I was about to drive off without Brendan when he jumped into the passenger seat. Brendan being Brendan, decided he was going to give me a lesson by imitating how I sound from the passenger seat while he’s driving. All the way home he imitated me giving him instructions. I have to admit he did a pretty good job and I did find myself very annoying.
We arrive home and Brendan is furious, jumps out of the truck, slams the door and walks into the house. My youngest son, Matt, was in the back seat that day and the whole time he was observing the situation and never uttered a word. I sat in the car trying to calm my temper and Matt just sat in silence with me. Matt is my quiet one and he is a self-assured boy who has a good sense of himself and sees all but doesn’t say too much. However, if you ask Matt his opinion he doesn’t pull any punches. I rely on Matt’s perspective because he always comes from “a matter of fact” place. After a few minutes I turned to face Matt in the backseat and I said, “am I that bad Matt?” He looked at me for a second and then stared straight into my eyes and said “you want the truth mom.” “yeah Matt I want the truth, give it to me.” “Worse, I think Brendan played you down a bit mom, you are bloody annoying.” I stared at him for a few seconds, “that bad Matt,” “yep, that bad mom.”
I didn’t talk to Brendan about it that night but the next morning as we left the house to go to school, I gave him the keys and he seemed shocked, went to say something and then thought better of it. He drove to school and I barely said two-words to him, I let him make the decisions and he drove really well that morning. Once he parked the car and before we went about our business for the day, I apologized to Brendan for being so over the top with his driving. He graciously accepted my apology and I did bring up how cocky he could be while driving and that he had to respect that I was nervous and for him to be respectful of my feelings. I also reminded him that he still has a lot to learn about driving. He admitted to the attitude and we both agreed to start over again and be more respectful of one another in the car.
Brendan is on his way to his “N”(new driver) and he will get there and by the time he does, I am sure he will be a good driver. I still brake the imaginary brake while sitting in the passenger seat, but I’ve learned to keep out of the driver’s seat while riding as the passenger.