LaLa drove the car this weekend!! Well – the car kind of drove her, but it was greatness just the same! Just the two of us went out driving on Saturday (Hun was at a fishing tournament and knew I was taking her) and had lots and lots of laughs!

First off – before ever allowing her into the driver’s seat of this 5-speed, standard transmission vehicle – I ragged the car out for her. I stalled it, I made it shudder, I made the gears grind, and I revved the engine up way past what I would normally be comfortable with (but stayed away from the red line!). I wanted her to see exactly what she was about to do to the poor thing. I wanted to make her feel comfortable with the fact that what she was about to do wasn’t anything new that I hadn’t already done myself before. In other words – I wanted her to feel comfortable knowing I wouldn’t yell at her for doing something she had no control over.

She was nervous sliding into the driver’s seat for the first time. She asked questions and double, tripled and quadrupled checked which pedals did what function. She made jokes about herself being too short to reach the pedals without the seat being as far forward as the track allowed.

And then she started the car – and promptly stalled it…..again….and again…..and again.

She thought it was funny that she kept stalling the car and I laughed with her, reassuring her that it was okay – we’ve all been where she is right now (those of us who have driven standards before). Finally she got the vehicle moving….with much shuddering and shaking. I let her go 20 feet and asked her to stop. She stalled it again before she realized she had to push the clutch in to stop without causing the vehicle to die. We started again with a repeat of the above performance and practiced the start/shudder/shudder/shake/rattle/roll/stop/stall technique for as far as the parking lot would allow before letting her turn the vehicle around and starting all over again.

I explained to her that this was the hardest part of learning how to drive a standard – getting the vehicle moving, without dying, and without shaking all of your passengers’ teeth loose. She thought that was funny. My teeth weren’t laughing, but I did.

20 minutes into the lesson and she was getting better at it. And then it happened – she got over-confident in herself and her abilities. She couldn’t get the car to move without stalling…every…single…time. I could tell she was getting frustrated with herself, so I kept my mouth shut and let her figure it out on her own for several attempts. She slowed down her attempts, got better and started laughing again. I reapplied the positive encouragements and laughed right along with her.

And then Dharma and Greg showed up. Talk about pressure! An audience, that knows how to drive a standard, and LaLa reverted back to step 1 in the lesson. Every time we would pass their vehicle parked to the side, LaLa would yell out, “Don’t Judge Me!!!” while laughing as the car stalled yet again. The laughter was contagious as Dharma and Greg joined in.

Then, on Sunday, Hun, LaLa and I spent some one-on-two time regarding car ownership. We took her to lunch, talked about her getting a job, what it meant to take care of a vehicle and everything it entailed. We then took her to the parts store and had her talk to the guy about ordering parts (so she would have some experience with this) and had her make sure all of the parts were there that were on her list.

When we got home, she helped Hun get all of the tools out to start working on the car and then helped me get all of the supplies out to start cleaning the car. She helped Hun get dirty (just a little – you could tell she had no desire to get dirty! – LOL!!) and then helped me tear the interior apart to clean it out. We took the seats out and shampooed the carpet really, really well. Then we cleaned the seats (except for the driver’s side….just in case). The car still smells like oil (I think someone previously spilled a quart of oil in the front passenger side), but smells WAY better than it did.

LaLa also got to feel superior to her siblings – Rowdy came over and started talking like he knew all about driving a standard – LaLa just gave him vague answers in return and a smugness I’ve rarely seen from her. At one point, I caught her eye while this exchange was going on and I had to just smile at her – we both knew she was throwing down a load of BS, matching Rowdy tit-for-tat – which at the moment was okay in my book. What’s a big sister for after all?

Was the weekend perfect? By all means, heck no – but I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything!

Now, we just need to figure out a name for The Car – and we’ll be all set!

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