My mom hates it when I tell this type of story so let's just pretend this happened to someone else:
I was talking to my coworker on our walk this morning about learning to drive. Her son is in his 20s, and just got his first car, a 1999 Toyota Camry with low miles on it. I was about that old when I got my first car, and was going for practice drives with my mother.
(It never occurred to me to get my license before I had a car.)
First of all, who had that bright idea? Anybody with half a brain could see that was going to be a disaster. For one thing, my mom and I had a history, when I was younger, of butting heads about how to do just about everything. She knew the right way to do things, and hey, guess what? So did I. Unfortunately, those two ways were always totally different. We did not know how to agree to disagree, we only knew how to attempt to beat the other into submission. This is an exaggeration. But when we disagreed, we really disagreed.
And then, I was nervous and not a confident student (of driving, and many, many other things). This should surprise no one. But my mom was also a nervous teacher, and this combination of fear and lack of confidence meant that our lessons almost all ended in tears (mine).
(You should know: I am an excellent driver now, so I will take a moment to thank my mother for those lessons, which though they were dramatic and emotional, apparently also taught me something. So, thanks, mom, for getting in a moving vehicle with me when I was a big dopey 20 year old. Also, now, 20 years later, we are better about accepting each other.)
The story I told my co-worker was this:
I remember being in my mom's 1984 Subaru GL, waiting somewhere at a red light not far from home. I want to say it was at the intersection of Sepulveda and Sawtelle, heading towards Overland. Where Crocker Bank used to be. I was sitting there at the red light, with my hands on the wheel, stuck at 10 and 2. Tense, man, I was TENSE.
My mom said to me, in that tone of voice that freaks me out TO THIS DAY, "Irene, you can relax! We're at a red light! Take your hands off the wheel!"
And I immediately burst into tears.
I probably then made an illegal u-turn and took us straight back home, where I hit the curb when parking the damn car.
My coworker and I laughed about this and did the whole "Mothers!" thing, and she said, "Aw, she was just trying to keep you safe," and I acknowledged that J. and I will probably have this exact same moment at least once (and probably many times), about a whole bunch of things, so the lesson for me today is that I need to learn how to not do this to him.
It's also nice to be so old (there's something wrong with that) that these stories are now more amusing than painful, but I'll admit that I wish I'd been a more confident young person, or at least self-aware enough to have known that I should've found anyone else to teach me to drive so that both my mom and I would be spared the emotional scarring this event inevitably caused. It was nice to laugh about this now, and to understand what was going on, a little better. I appreciate my mom so much now; I need to work on showing it better.
The driving lessons I had in my 20s with my sometimes slightly drunken boyfriend were better, but I can't advocate this for anybody else. For one thing, it might be against the law. Hearing his silly half-drunk voice ("Are we stalled out?") from the back seat as I stalled his 1990 Toyota Tercel on Wilshire Blvd. was a much more fun experience.
(Sober, he was pretty much just as nervous about my driving as my mom was. You should've heard the argument we had once when I drove his car on the 405 south over some sort of debris that when he asked me to identify, I couldn't. He made me pull over so he could ensure that his gas tank hadn't been punctured or some bullshit like that. Needless to say, he made me cry, too. And then we made out on the side of the freeway. Hey, this was a more fun story. Why didn't I think of this one sooner?)