Learn English – the scariest part of being a parent

There are many parts of being a mom that can be stressful. And teaching my sons to drive was one that scared me the most!


Hey there, being a parent, a mom or dad, is no easy task. And sometimes it’s actually scary or frightening. Teaching my sons to drive was one of those times

(Intro: English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories.)

When can you drive in the United States? How old do you have to be? That depends on where you live. Each state, you know, there are 50 states, each state has their own DMV, or Department of Motor Vehicles.

Here in Alabama, the DMV says you can begin to drive with a learner’s permit at age 15. But in Virginia, where we lived and my boys learned to drive, you had to wait until you were 15 and a half. With a learner’s permit and a parent and the car you could start to drive to practice driving. Then you had to take a course and pass that before you could go to the actual DMV office and take the written test to get your full license.

The very first time I got into the car with Graham, our oldest son, all of a sudden it hit me. This was really scary. How was I ever going to teach Graham how to drive? How was he going to learn to handle traffic, lots of cars all around him? How, how would he learn to pass a truck safely or have a truck pass him? And what about merging? Merging is when you’re coming onto a big road and you have to yield to the traffic and slip in.. to… to the lane of moving cars, when there’s enough space, when it’s safe. All that frightened me.

What about driving at night? What about all the cars all around my son? Well, somehow we made it through. He learned to drive. His dad taught him some tricks like parallel parking. I still can’t parallel park.

But then five years later it was son number two’s turn to learn to drive with Mom, with me. Do you know, that same feeling of terror swept over me! When I got in the car with Wes, our second son. It seemed impossible to teach him to drive safely and accurately and with skill.

Somehow we muddled through. We got through and he learned to drive, but you know what happened? Something very interesting. 

When Graham, our oldest, had completed the driving school course and gotten the certificate, and when he had studied all the rules, supposedly, he told me he had studied them, on his 16th birthday, March 31st, 1999 he turned 16 that very day, we went to the DMV, Department of Motor Vehicles, for him to take the written test. But he failed.

He did not answer enough questions correctly. He failed the written test! You know, that test with rules and signs?  I had never even thought about that possibility. I didn’t know anyone who had ever failed the written test. And that was his birthday. That was a very depressing day. 

Of course, all his friends at school wanted, wanted him to show them his driver’s license. And he had to say, “I failed the test.”

He went back a week later and passed it. And this time he studied. He had not taken ‘studying’ seriously. He had not prepared enough. But what’s even more strange is five years later when Wes, when I took Wes to the DMV to take the written test, and we had said, “Wes, you better study. You know what happened to your brother Graham!” Yes, he failed it too. Though, it was not his birthday. We did not repeat that mistake. Sure enough, he failed the written test. He studied some more. We went back and he passed it.

But you know, now that I think about it, I didn’t fail the written test about rules and signs. But in Virginia, when I was a teenager, we had to actually be in the car with a, with an examiner. And there was a… a course laid out back of the DMV and we had to do certain maneuvers, certain actions with the car. 

And there was this one stop sign and I was driving and of course you’re supposed to stop at a stop sign. And I did a rolling stop. I did not do a complete stop. And I failed.

The lady said, “Oh, you did a California Stop.” I never heard of a California Stop. But that apparently is when a driver comes up to a stop sign, slows way down, but doesn’t stop completely and moves on. I learned my lesson! Two weeks later, I went back, did the whole physical driving test with the instruct…. with the examiner and passed. You know, they say you learn best from your mistakes. I think it’s true. 

What about you? Have you learned to drive yet? And if so, what was it like where you live in your state or in your country? Who taught you first? Did you take a…an official driving school course? Tell me about it. Leave me a comment. 

And remember if you would like the transcript for today’s episode, the written words go to my website, www.englishwithoutfear.com. And there you can find the transcript for today’s episode and others. Well, this is Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time.

(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)

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