Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Rite of Passage – the New Learner’s License

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Today’s Blog Post

The Rite of Passage – the New Learner’s License
The telephone message arrived this past week. It was my daughter announcing a very important, life changing moment in their life and mine. She said, “There is a new Driver in our household as of today! Talk to you later!”

When we heard the message my wife looked at me and said, “Good for Clifford!” Our oldest Grandson had written his first Driver’s Test.

I looked at her and thought, “We can’t be that old!”

There is a “rite of passage” when a young man arrives at that special moment, the passing of his driver’s exam. That moment when he can find new freedom, and begin the process of learning how to drive away into the sunset – all by himself.

Well he can’t quite drive all by himself yet. He has just written the driving test and identified all the signs that will be posted beside the roadways and highways. He now has his learner’s license.

Now remembering that he has just passed his written exam about three days prior to his arrival at our home yesterday afternoon… the next turn of events that transpired will help you to see my growing anxiety and the reason that my right foot was at times pressing hard on the floor boards of the old car last night. And it may also be why I didn’t sleep as sound last night either.

Grandpa Lincoln went for his first ride with his Grandson last evening. Grandpa also entered his latest “rite of passage” as well.

As we ate dinner last evening Grandma Alida in her kind and caring way for her grandson questioned him about the driver’s exam. Clifford grinned and explained that he had achieved 100% on the first writing of this test… but the other 16 year old girl sitting near him had tried three times and had failed miserably. Grandma listened closely.

Then Grandma suggested something so radical and far out there that Grandpa almost fell off his chair. “Maybe you can take Grandpa for a ride tonight and practice driving?”

“Okay woman. Why me? Why not you? Why Grandpa? Is this a special bonding thing you want me to try out with Clifford?”

Now I couldn’t say all that out loud in front of my Grandson Clifford… but I could think it.

And being the macho man that I am, I would never let anyone see my fear factor at that moment Grandma had made this outlandish suggestion. To put Grandpa, her loving husband of all these years, in a loaded vehicle with their first born Grandchild and let them go – seems well a little harsh wouldn’t you think?

At about 8 PM I looked at my Grandson and said, “Let’s go Clifford.”

“Am I driving?” he asked.

“You betcha. Let’s go.” I said with a feigned pride… or was that frightened pride?

That walk from our house to the vehicle was strange to say the least. I felt it deeply. I crossed the driveway heading to the car. Instead of going to the right and entering the driver’s side… I hesitated and then turned to the passenger’s side. Clifford was around the car in a bound, plunking himself behind the steering wheel and then doing up his seat belt. I then opened the passenger door and slid in.

He looked at me and asked, “Which way are we going?” I indicated north and said “To your house.”

As we pulled out I thought – he has never driven home before that I know of – will we get lost? Oh Boy!

Two hours later at 10 PM we returned home. We had covered close to 50 kilometers and almost every side street, stopping and starting with great care. We had driven around and around blocks, negotiated some of the most dangerous intersections in our city… and survived very well.

My Grandson is an excellent driver. He is really good!

The “Rite of Passage” is real. I know it very well. 51 years ago right about this week I took my Grandpa Kirkpatrick for a ride out from his farm in southern Saskatchewan. He had looked at me and said, “I have to go to town to get some things. Would you like to drive me?” I had my learner’s license too. I was sixteen and beaming from ear to ear as I wheeled that old Mercury out on to the country road. The road was straight and only a few miles of driving to town and back. I proved myself that day to Grandpa and me. I could do it.

Last night as we hopped out of the car, Clifford turned to me and said, “Thanks Grandpa.” I beamed.

I have a photo that was taken on me about 15 years ago. I was cleaning some windows for my daughter in their first home. I was standing on a chair. There in front of me was a little curly headed boy with is rag in his hand cleaning the glass at his level. It was not posed. He had climbed up there to help when he saw what Grandpa was doing.

Gulp… my Grandson has grown up. Oh Boy! But I have four more that are coming right behind this one… and I can’t wait.

~ Murray Lincoln ~ 
Clifford Lindsay - 2010 - 2011 School Photo

Grandpa Lincoln and Clifford cleaning windows - 15 years ago

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