Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Boy learns to drive: Icy edition

In an effort to never ever leave the house again until spring, I have decided it's high time I teach the kids how to drive a standard so they can move the car before any upcoming snowstorm. I know, height of laziness. I'm right there with you!

Tonight, knowing that another 10" of the devil's dandruff is expected, I took the Boy out the the driveway after a short but intense lesson on how to shift. "The clutch always has to be moved slowly, like you're in a ballet." I tell him. "The gears are in an H pattern, and to find reverse you go to the middle of the H and go all the way to the right and down." I say. I have him practice in the air and repeat what I've said over and over. I think he's ready to try.

I have him start the car, which he gets right away. Starting a manual drive car can be tricky so my hopes are up up up. I explain that he needs to ensure that the emergency brake is ON when he starts the car, but he forgot this and we lurch forward because the car is in first, as I parked it. Lesson 1: always make sure you know what direction you're going in. Check the stick to see what gear you're in.

He practices clutching and he seems to have it down, although he'll be riding the clutch like any new manual shift driver. He's seems to know where the gears are, he's figured out how to release the emergency brake, he understands that the clutch has to be depressed all the way to change the gears, so I determine he's all set to try and back the car from our space and across the driveway to where we all pack together like sardines to eliminate as much shoveling as possible. We're not morons up here in the frozen north.

I have him put the car in reverse and s l o w l y release the clutch. He's a bit jerky, but he gets the car backed up about 10 feet and then I tell him to look backwards to see where he's going. He totally panics. "How do I look backward?" he yells. I tell him to turn his head and all feet flip off the pedals, the car stalls and he has no clue of what to do next.

He turns the car back on, but he can't move it another inch. He's on glare ice, and I tell him to go forward for a bit, but he's now too nervous to move the car anywhere at all. We change seats, I move the car into a teeny weeny parking space for minimum snow removal.

He sits back in his seat and says "This manual stuff is a lot harder than I thought. You're the beast at it!"

I'll take my accolades any way I can get them!

I have a feeling that this is going to be a long long winter. Somebody has got to learn how to move the car besides me, that's all I can say.

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