Caution: Nervous mom is the passenger

August 12, 2011|Lisa Prejean

"Did you see that truck? He barely slowed down at that stop sign. If I wouldn't have been watching, he would have hit us broadside."

And so goes my latest lecture from behind the wheel.

My kids have been hearing a lot of these observations lately:

"When there are three lanes of traffic, be aware of the cars on each side of you because they sometimes weave in and out."

Driving Rule No. 1: Be aware of other drivers.

It is as if our windshield has become a movie screen for all the things they need to know about driving.

This is especially important for my oldest, who received his Learner's Permit a few months ago.

So, you know what is coming next: The License.

That is, if we make it through the next few months.

After earning a permit and before getting a license, teens in Maryland are to log 60 hours of driving time with an adult.

Driving Rule No. 2: Try to be understanding with your mother.

Let's just say it is hard for me to relax in the passenger seat when my son is behind the wheel.

Is he reckless? No, very careful.

Does he speed? Not at all.

Perhaps he takes too many chances? No, not that, either.

It's just that he's my son. How can he be driving already?

My husband has accepted this fact with ease. He hands over the keys and hops into the passenger side without a second thought.

They rode together several times with seemingly little conflict.

Wish I could say the same about our first ride together.

It was rather, um, intense.

Driving Rule No. 3: Don't be a backseat driver, even if you are the mom.

Did he forget to turn on the turn signal? No, he just didn't turn it on as early as I would.

Did he drive too close to the center line? No, I tend to drive too close to the shoulder.

Did he brake too early? Well ... yeah, but that's better than braking too late. It's just a little hard on the neck.

When we arrived at our destination, my son sighed and mumbled something about preferring to ride with his father.

I said that would be fine because it meant less stress for me.

At least we agreed on that.

His father is a better driver than I am, anyway, so it works out.

Besides, I taught our son how to read. His father can teach him how to drive. I think that's a fair exchange.

I'll take phonics over the freeway any day.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at

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