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Alongside my paid work, I have taken on all sorts of secondary unpaid roles. Teacher [helping out with homework], chauffeur, 24/7 cleaner, nurse [administering medication], etc. Now comes driving tutor. Daughter one has hit 17 and has just got her provisional licence.
I volunteered to take her out for her first lesson over the holidays – just as I did with my brother back in the day and with my partner when he first arrived in the UK. My brother’s lessons did not always end well. One involved him mistaking my command to go straight on at a roundabout with going left straight onto the M25.
So it was with some trepidation that I headed out the door. “I’m coming too,” said a voice from behind. It was daughter two, who considers herself to be semi-professional in the driving stakes from extensive study of her mother’s parking technique. This mainly consists of driving round and round until there are at least two free spaces together. This is in order to avoid problems such as that encountered when someone parked really close to me on both sides when I was eight and a half months pregnant, meaning the only way of getting into my car was climbing over the back seat. Not recommended when heavily pregnant.
“Me too,” came another voice. Daughter three does not like to be left out of any outing. She had brought books and other activities along for entertainment. She claimed to have a stake in daughter one’s driving lesson given that daughter one may end up driving her in the distant future and she wanted to be sure that that would be safe. Daughter three likes to plan ahead and has spent the last few days compiling a book of lists and charts, including graphs and pie charts, about 2017.
We headed to a quiet no through road with just two cars parked on it. I parked as far as possible from the two cars. Daughter one took over. To be fair she soon got the clutch, biting point thing. She just seemed to want to go faster than her driving instructor would have liked, egged on by the audience in the back. “Can I do a three point turn now?” asked daughter one about 10 minutes into the lesson. I assured her that a three point turn was not something for lesson number one and that it was a question of mastering going back and forward first along with changing gear. She had a lot of trouble with the hand brake. Her driving instructor advised muscle-strengthening activities such as picking discarded clothes up from the floor and hoovering.
“Let’s just take a short trip down the road and turn around at the bottom,” I suggested after about 25 minutes. At the bottom you could turn right and go round a hillock and go straight back up again. There was a barn on the left. It seemed very straightforward. Except. Daughter one did not get the feeding the wheel through turning motion I suggested. We were heading straight for the barn. I yanked on the hand brake. “OK, end of lesson for today,” I announced. I may need a slight pause until lesson two.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.