Here's something you may not know about me. I do not excel at driving.
The Ontario Graduated Licensing System came into effect the year I turned 16. For those who don't know, this is a system where to be fully licensed you have to take 3 tests - one written and two driving. The first driving test is comprised of the basics such as driving on city streets, parking, parallel parking etc. This is considered the easy test. The second test is the highway driving test where you are tested on more advanced skills such as merging onto the highway and yet another parallel park. This is considered the hard test.
A lot of people complained about graduated licensing. For me (and those who share the roads with me) it was a good thing.
I passed the written test with flying colours. That is where my driving success ended.
I went on to attempt 5 G1 exit tests. Yes. That's the "easier" of the tests. I won't get into details. They will scare you. I will say that in one test I actually freaked out the teacher so much that he asked me to pull over so he could drive back. However, he did complement me on my parallel parking skills.
It wasn't just a series of errors. I was horrible. I took driver training with 2 different teachers. Neither were successful in eliminating my fear of other drivers, merging into traffic or pretty much driving in general.
My parents took me driving on many occasions. Though they swore they were clear headed, if they secretly had a few drinks before getting in the car with me I would not have blamed them. It was scary.
My brother-in-law made a concerted effort at teaching me. Though I have to say he was the most calm instructor he could not manage to help me get through a test.
Finally, when I got engaged, I secretly went out and took tests. The only people who knew were my Young Drivers teacher, Mike (my then fiancee) and Sabrina (one of my closest friends). For the first time in my life I had a teacher who made me feel confident behind the wheel. He would shout at me when I wasn't aggressive enough, tell me that pedestrians weren't royalty - so don't give them so much space, and would get pissed off if I didn't go through a yellow. In fact, when it came time to teach me highway driving, he took me on a lesser known entrance to the DVP and told me to speed up because I was on a highway.
I loved the guy. He was not going to teach me if I was going to be afraid. I got rid of my fears, hopped in the car and drove.
In between lessons Mike would let me drive his car. My big issue was parallel parking and backing up. So for weeks on end we spent hours in the car. Mike had his headphones on and closed his eyes and I would sob and wail and scream and cry and try my best to back up. Eventually I mastered it.
And then I took my driving test. AND PASSED. Fifth time was a charm, I guess.
In fact, I got a perfect test. When the instructor told me that I was so shocked and excited and proud that I started crying. I could not stop crying. He went in and found my instructor who tried to comfort me. But, I had to explain these were happy tears. He had to take me in and to the correct lineup because I was so emotional.
Of everything I've done in life, this was the one thing that I was unwilling to fail on no matter how much effort it took.
I drove Mike's old car for a few months and then we bought a nice shiny new car. It was kind of a dumb move, since I still wasn't that great a driver, but I was proud.
My second test was not that exciting. When I found out I was pregnant I booked a test, grabbed my mom (since our shiny new car had a huge dent on it which I thought would hinder my passing abilities) and I passed on the first try. I think my giant stomach helped matters. And there was no traffic.
However, I am still a pretty crappy driver.
I'm lacking in hand-eye coordination. I sometimes speed and sometimes drive under the speed limit. I listen to the radio too loud. I talk on my phone and use my blackberry while driving. I am not horrible, but I would not rate myself perfect. By any means.
I've never gotten a ticket - except for parking.
I've never been in an accident. That is, I've never had an accident with another person/car. I've driven into parking garage pillars, posts, garbage cans, etc.
But then today ... I drove into a curb. Or kind of into and over it. Who knows. It was the loudest thing I've ever heard. I completely destroyed my front tire.
WHO DOES THAT????
I was so excited to take Matthew to the park today. But, he started to scream when I was driving into the playground parking lot. I looked back at him and accidentally drove over the curb. Holy crap. It was the loudest noise ever. I'm kind of accustomed to doing stupid things like this, but today I actually broke my tire.
I didn't think I'd done any damage until I went to get out of the car and realized that I was a lot closer to the ground than normal. Hmmm ...
Another mom came over. And asked if I was okay. Considering Matthew was singing away and none of the air bags had gone off I was. I said "I just don't know why the car is so low."
She was like "well, your tire us flat."
So, I called Mike and he came over in our borrow Saturn (thanks, Beck) to observe the situation.
While we were waiting we actually did play in the park. It was warm. We had fun. And then Mike arrived.
He wasn't mad at all. (used to me perhaps?)
It turns out that he has changed flat tires before, so it was fine. Our car actually had a jack and spare tire. I didn't know cars came with all that stuff. So, Mike changed the tire while Matt said over and over again "Daddy is fixing the wheel. Mommy broke it. She crashed our car."
I'm now a little traumatized by my stupid driving experience, but thankfully all is well. We'll get a new tire the tire will get fixed and I will watch out for curbs. Fun fun Sunday afternoon.
The funniest part of all of this is that Matthew thought the whole thing was planned for his enjoyment. He loves fixing things, and what is more fun than a broken car and a playground at the same time??
How great is it that Mommy brought her camera for such an occasion. "Stand next to the broken car and say Cheese!"