Behind the Wheel: A Letter to a New Driver

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Dear Daughter,

As I look to next year and the imminent arrival of a your new driver status in the family’s ranks, I am reminded of the tumultuous early relationship I shared with driving. In anticipation of your entrance to the cusp of adulthood (a.k.a Behind the Wheel classes), here is some advice which will hopefully ease your way into this next stage of your life.


Brakes are always on the left. When entering the driveway and approaching the closed garage door, do not push the accelerator thinking it is the brake. When your mother starts yelling and stomping the imaginary brakes on the passenger side, do not panic and floor the accelerator. Doing so will cause your mother to scream and nearly wet herself.  (It will also leave a hole in your garage).

Ask your grandmother. She remembers. 


A car needs gasoline to run. The car signals when it is near empty. Do not ignore the signal. Otherwise, you’ll be driving home from work late one night and end up stalled on the side of the road (in the middle of winter most likely because everything happens in winter) several blocks away from home. And when you call your father to get you, he will rip you a new one, all the while cussing at your irresponsibility for probably damaging the fuel line. (There might be a few choice words about how cold it is and how he was comfortably sleeping). Smile or cry. Whichever you think will work. It doesn’t matter. You’ll have several weeks of hoofing it in which you can figure out the best reaction for next time.

Unfortunately, there will be a next time. 


Most cars don’t start without them. Most doors don’t unlock without them. Leaving the keys in the car and then locking the door is excusable. The first time. The subsequent half dozen or so times are on you and you will be paying the lock smith to extricate your keys. At least you have a cell phone and can google the number of a locksmith. I had to endure the indignation of walking to the nearest gas station, explaining what happened, seething through the clerk’s good-natured ribbing and then calling a lock smith. 

Winter driving: 

It will snow. A lot. You will exit school one day and find your car covered in a sleety mixture of rain and snow. It will be frozen to your windows. I know the temptation will be to get in your car, start it and blast the defroster while using your windshield wipers and washer fluid to de-ice the windows. Resist! You will not only empty the windshield washer fluid sooner than anticipated, you will also damage the blades. When your father drives the car again and finds he has no washer fluid and his blades wipe excrement less effectively than a wad of toilet paper, well, then. You’ll brave the cold and scrape the windows. 

And if I hear a whiff of a rumor you were doing donuts in the school parking lot after the buses have left, just remember I teach where you go to school. Life could become very embarrassing. 


Above all, darling, be safe and be smart.

And if you do give your father and I an extra gray hair or two in the next couple of years, just remember: it is completely your fault and we will blame you.

Love, Mom

via Daily Prompt: Wheel

8 thoughts on “Behind the Wheel: A Letter to a New Driver

    1. Did you forget to open the garage door before backing out? That’s not fun either. Learning to drive is so stressful and now I have to do it all over again?!

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