Today, Miss who some have know since she was six years old when I first started writing Beyond the Flow, passed the test for her Learner’s Permit and I took her for her first official drive. It was so exciting and almost went without a hitch, and we’ll just gloss over that one time she mounted the curb and a couple of wobbles going round a corner. We started out at Umina Beach carpark, and after a few laps, she ventured down towards the caravan park until flooding forced her to do her first three point turn and soon she was driving down the main road and going around a couple of roundabouts.
Before you start thinking she’s a driving protégé, I should point out that we set out on our driving lesson at 8.15pm after her dance class on a wet and rainy night. Indeed, in case you’re not aware the East Coast of Australia has been hit by a mighty deluge and what they’re calling a “rain bomb”. The flooding in place is catastrophic and incredibly heart breaking. We haven’t been greatly impacted here but there are some local road closures and it’s been hard to get around.
However, the upside for our daughter’s first driving lesson was the there was virtually no one on the road, and so she could get a feel for steering and get somewhat comfortable in the car. She didn’t need to be critically vigilant about keeping left and skimming past parked cars. She could leave a bit of room while staying on the correct side of the road.
It was also funny driving with her, because she was chatting with me most of the time. A car would appear and she’d pipe up: “I have competition”, which I thought was hilarious. I didn’t really interfere very much. I thought the early days were more about her getting a feel for the road and gaining confidence. However, she was keeping a fairly close eye on how she was going, particularly the speed. For much of the time, she was going along at about 20 kph and that was where she felt comfortable. I reassured her that she has the L plate and people will give her some breathing space. That said, she was overtaken by a rather reckless driver we both agree ought to be on his L plates or lose their licence entirely.
While I was incredibly excited to be driving with our daughter, the biggest part of this story is not her learning to drive. She has been dancing since she was three and must have highly tuned spatial skills from 12 years of dance, especially performing in groups. However, the real drama was all about producing her blessed original birth certificate before she could even sit for the test, and this was where the side fell down big time. I suspected the certificates weren’t in their place in my top right desk drawer, and yet I left it right until almost the last minute before we left to look for them. I thought I’d done well finding the decorative copies still in their gold tube from 16 years ago. They were originals and authorised copies so I couldn’t see them being a problem. That was until we were at the desk at Service NSW and they told her she couldn’t sit the test.
I don’t need to tell you how awful I felt. Our daughter was disappointed and no doubt angry with me although she said nothing. Meanwhile, I said a lot, berating myself for being so stupid. This incident raised those horrible, dreadful weaknesses of mine with organisation, time management. I have been trying so hard to overcome these difficulties and have been seeing an occupational therapist for a very long time, and I am improving, but the situations I am facing keep changing and the last two years of covid and lockdown have really stonkered me. It’s been really hard going trying to reconstruct things at home, particularly getting on top of my daughter’s busy life of school, dance, work, and now L tests and upcoming dance competitions not to mention getting eyelash extensions and her hair done. I am such low maintenance that I’m barely conscious of how I look, and sometimes marvel at this stranger I occasionally see in the mirror…”Who are you?”
To be honest, my writing and research along with the lockdowns has more to do with that than running after the kids. I could focus 100% on my inner life and almost forgot the veneer completely. It’s been wonderfully refreshing, and even liberating, but it’s over and time to merge bck with the real world.
Anyway, I digress.
The place was pretty forgiving about our ID troubles, and just said to pop back before 4.00pm Wednesday or Thursday.
Well, that was easier said than done.
Firstly, I had no idea where the birth certificate was. We tore the place apart, and without any luck we tore the house apart and ordered a new one which was going to arrive in three weeks even with an express order. Boy, I felt bad!!!
Secondary, there was another hurdle we hadn’t quite grappled with yet – the rain.
Meanwhile, I turned my attention to another problem at home. The clothes dryer was broken and needed to be pulled apart and have the sock or goodness knows what other blockages removed a long with the inevitable lint which shouldn’t have been anywhere near the motor. I’d cleared the kitchen table for that surgical procedure, but had filled it up again looking for the certificates and so piles of detritus were being moved round and round the house, while a good portion also made it into the recycling.
Meanwhile, our daughter was very sweet and said she knew I’d find them.
I was praying!!
Then, I noticed that about five crates of stuff out of our son’s room from a year ago were still in the kitchen and backroom. After the debacle of losing the certificates and still needing to find them, those crates were going. I attacked them with fresh eyes and was making steady progress. Then, after moving this one particular crate, the promised land opened up in front of me. There was the folder of certificates. I’d redeemed myself.
That was yesterday, and today we headed off again. This time, we made a list of everything we needed and had it altogether before we went to bed last night like good little Vegemites (there’s an Aussie saying for you). However, we got in the car and Miss asks us if we had the documentation. Can you believe it?! Diffusion of responsibility strikes again. None of us had thought to take it out to the car, and I think she’d also left her glasses behind.
Meanwhile, there were the floods and heavy rain with the possibility this forecast rain bomb was going to hit while we were on the way. We checked reports and adjusted our route, and allowed a good hour for what might’ve been a 15-30 minute trip…and of course, some really heavy rain blinded our vision for a bit and the traffic was abysmal. Gosford had turned into a parking lot. We needed to be there by 4.00pm and it was getting mighty close with red light after red light. Where is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when you need him? Dilbert’s detrafficator would also have been appreciated. However, we g\had God and the power of prayer, and we got there.
By this stage, I was a total nervous wreck, and I was wearing a mask which combined with my impaired lung capacity and hyperventilating, wasn’t good. I just wanted her to get the test over and done with. However, they seem to draw the whole build up right out and before they even know whether they’re going to pass, they do the eye test and goodness knows what else but it took a good fifteen minutes (not that I was counting or fixating at the clock like a crazed maniac!!)
I needed the toilet and there wasn’t one there. So, I had to go for an extended walk.
When I returned, she had passed and was sitting in the chair getting her photo retaken.
I’m glad it’s over.
Tonight, we clocked up 45 minutes of night driving in the rain. We have 119 hours to go before she is eligible to sit for her licence.
There is also her brother who has also just started learning.
Let the driving begin.
Have you got any stories about learning to drive that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.