DRIVING LESSONS


Jamie Drivingn

Yesterday we bumped into two friends we havent seen for ages.  In fact they are Jamies Grade 1 and Grade 7 teachers.  Jamie was driving the car and one looked at me and said, “I found the two most stressful parts of being a parent was choosing the matric dress and teaching my children to drive”.  And this comes from a well seasoned educator.

The story goes like this ……….

The word was out, everybody was failing their learners licence …….. by one point.

Sentences like …… moneymaking scam, and waste of time was being brandished around.  Booking the licence alone meant a full day out of school …… I kid you not.  We arrived at the traffic department at 7.00 am and Jamie was given ticket number 14 – he walked out of there at 1.00 pm ……… now this was to BOOK.

Well the day to write arrived, exactly one month after his 17th birthday, and in went a group of youngsters all looking very nervous.

Jamie being Jamie, had only done enough studing that was required in Jamieland ……. or 17 year old teen land.

All the parents waited outside (wish I had gone shopping because it took ages).

Jamie walks out ……. a sad look on his face.

“I failed by one point ……….. ”

“Phone your father ……”

“Dad I failed by one point”

At this Frans launches into one of those Dad lectures.  You know the ones …… “Son I told you to learn harder” and “I told you to learn for an extra hour” and “I hope you will take the next time seriously”.

Mid Dad lecture Jamie bursts into a HUGE grin and says “Just Kidding!!!!” and hauls out a piece of paper – HIS LEARNERS LICENCE.

I got such a fright that I tossed him the keys …. learning to drive starts NOW.

Now being who we are, we really dont allow the kids to do things before they are legally allowed to do it, no driving, drinking, going to bars etc.  So Jamie has had extremely little driving experience apart from parking the car at home – mmmmm now that I think about it thats about it (that I know of).

So off we go to grab a celebration bite to eat, and then to drive home from Humansdorp.

I get into the passenger side of my car and Jamie gets behind the wheel.

After much adjusting of the seat and steering wheel and shoofling in the seat, he looks at me ………

“Put on your safety belt”.  Good start.

AND-THEN-WE-START-JOLTING-DOWN-THE-ROAD-ONE-METER-AT-A-TIME.

“How am I doing?”, he asks as he stalls at the stop street.

“Very Good”, I say with gritted teeth after managing to peel my cheek of the windscreen.

NOTE TO SELF – Maybe the first driving lesson should be done at a deserted salt pan in Nevada …..
 or something.

So we stop round the corner of the stop street and I go through a couple of basics.  Like how to go into first gear.

Off we go.  Not so rattly the second time.

I begin to notice that my right foot is starting to tramp an imaginary brake, my right hand constantly moves towards the manual gear shift.

Then he puts the left hand indicator on for the first time and the car veers straight to the left.  I clamp my left hand on the passenger window.

He speeds up to 40 kmph.  “Slow down Jamie!!!!!!”  I yell.

“But its a 120 zone” he says.  I have to add here that Jamie has probable spent more time on wheels on the Humansdorp/St Francis Bay Road …….. Bicycle wheels, there is a difference.

We agree that 60 kmph is a good starter speed.

My body is rigid and pushing hard against the seat,  my left foot has made its way to between the dashboard and the windscreen, my right food is pumping an imaginary brake, my right hand is hovering above the gear shift and my left hand is still firmly flattened against the passenger window.

I am trying to be positive but my throat has completely sanded up and my mouth is opening and closing like a fish.  My eyes are wide and nostrils flared.

“Good driving Jamie”, I rasp.

“I know”  he replies.

A friend of ours overtakes us and toots and gives the thumbs up sign.  Jamie waves and the car veers to the right.  Me, well, I dont have any body parts left to do anything.

So there we drive the 16 kilometers home and into the driveway.

As we stop, Jamie looks at me with a huge grin on his face.

“Well that was great!!!!! and you didnt shout at me at all!!!!!”

I smile.

“Well done boy”  I croak.

…………… It took me 45 minutes to get out of the seat.  Now I have 4 years to worry about the dress.

 

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THE LIVING ROOM


NINON BIRTHDAY 2013 001

We have a living room.  This living room is exactly what I DIDN’T want as a living room, you know the type of room that no-one ever sits it ……… I remember going to friends homes when I was young and there was this room in most of my friends houses (we didn’t have one).  It had cream carpets, a cream lounge suite, beautiful cushions, tasteful drapes, lovely lamps and works of art tastefully placed in carefully thought out places.  Amongst all this beauty there was always a sense of loneliness in these rooms – this was the sitting room kept for special occasions – to me, it always felt like a “left-out” waste of space and I vowed I would never have one if I ever owned a house.

Homes are meant to be lived in, they are not museums they are houses where memories are made and every inch of space should be used.  Anyway, we don’t use our sitting room – it isn’t hidden away behind a door it is there in the openplanness which is our home ……… it just doesn’t get used …….. ever.

So in this unused space Jamie saw an opportunity.  He gets home from training one night and enters the house – bike and all – through the front door.  Now at the best of times a cyclist chomping around in full kit with cleat shoes pushing his bike is not a pretty sight.  For one thing the shoes make them walk like ducks,  a cyclist in full kit walking is a bit Borat-ish, a bicycle inside a house just isnt great, add to this when Jamie finishes his daily ride everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is full of mud.  The bike is caked in mud, his body is full of mud, even his face is full of mud splatters.  It can be the warmest, sunniest day and Jamie will come home full of mud.

Back to the opportunity.  Jamie calmly minces in, bike and all and parks the bike in the sitting room.

Frans sits there looking to and from Jamie and myself like a spectator at a tennis match ……. his mouth is wide open doing sort of fishy movements – no sound comes out.

I sit there looking just at Jamie.  My mouth is wide open also doing sort of fishy movements   – no sound comes out.

Rosie on the other hand will never let an opportunity go by to point out to Jamie what he is doing wrong – 100% normal 12 year old sister behavior.

“Why are you putting your bike in the lounge????”  She asks just loud enough for the whole of St Francis to hear.

“Get a life …………”.   He answers. 100% normal answer of a 15 year old boy to his sister.

Frans’s fish mouth is the first to find words, “Jamie why don’t you put your bike in the garage?”

“The garage is too dirty”  replies Jamie, “I am trying to look after my bike”.  He has calmly forgotton that his bike is full of mud, he is full of mud, man, even his riding glasses are full of mud.

Now I am really finding it difficult to take a boy seriously who is dressed in full muddy cycling kit, still in his cleats, sunglasses and helmet I am wondering what alien has walked into my home.

Jamie also seems to have calmly forgotten about the other 3 bicycles that he owns that are safely and quite happily living in the garage.

So now I am beginning to see method in Jamies madness.  The sitting room is unused.  No memories are made there.  There is a little voice in my brain saying “why not”

Before I know it the words spill out before the brain has time to process ……. “why not?”

Frans looks at me …… you know that look a husband gives to a wife when she is treading on uneven kid ground.  Its a sort of look, the eyes narrow, the head gives a little shake, and then the eyes move in a sidewards upwards direction.

What he is actually saying is ….. “That is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard, STOP TALKING NOW!!!!!!, come upstairs so we can discuss this without the kids hearing”

But OH NO!  mouth is in full swing here and brain has shut down.

“Frans, I seem to remember you actually building a boat in our living room once”,  what he has forgotten in those days we only had one place to sit, no TV room, no seperate dining room – just one place ……….. and he built a boat in it.

The shakey head is going a bit stronger here, Jamie and Rosie are looking on with interest – I can actually see their ears flapping.

“We dont use the living room ……… so why not?”

The brain starts catching up ……. I know my kids, once you give them an inch – or in this case 1.8 meters x 65 cm – they will take a whole room.

I can hear Rosies mind calculating how fast she can get a horse, hay and water in the room so we can have a new addition to the family.

Jamie is checking out the space and mentally working out where his workbench can stand, and how he is going to fit a personalized bike workshop in there.

Frans is pondering how much bigger this living room is and whether or not he should start construction of another boat.

Me on the other hand is punching myself in the mouth!!!!!

In that one single moment I realized why my friends parents had this “room” in their houses.  We all need a sanctuary.  A place of beauty, serenity and peace.  A place where the word cluttered doesn’t even hit its stratosphere.  I have it in my unused living room and I was just about to throw it all away – I need that unused space of beauty in my house.

So the end of the tale is ……. Frans doesn’t get a new spot to build a boatie thingie, Rosie must realize that horses belong at Homestead Estate and that is it.

Jamie on the other hand is still putting the bike in the sitting room ……. but …….. when he does, it is clean and shiny – lets face it a Merida Big Nine is a thing of beauty after all.