The second portion of driver’s education in California is the required 50 or so hours behind-the-wheel. An instructor takes the young driver-to-be on city, rural and highway routes containing various driving challenges and decision-making situations during their lessons.
Once the instructor signs off on a base level abilities, the student is nearly eligible to take their driver’s license test, but not until their parents also sign off on the remaining hours.
After parents complete the required teen-parent hours, the instructor visits with the student and takes them for one final drive to receive their final stamp of approval.
Driving lessons are a family affair and being the rather jumpy sort, I bowed out. Their dad clocked the mandated hours in the passenger seat checking off the long list of driving situations to which the young drivers needed exposure. With Dad’s and an instructor’s accolades under their wings, Raphaella and Gabriel met the challenge. The big day arrived for each of them: the DMV test! Each of them failed more than once! Each time their self-esteem deflated a bit. All concluded that the examiners at the Dept of Motor Vehicles are mean and ruthless people. Third time is a charm and eventually, my older kids did pass their exam and have been good, level-headed and law-abiding drivers.
In addition to 6 hours with the “behind the wheel” instructor as mentioned, Angelle required driving instruction time with her dad. Angelle badgered her father to pick up the study guide for the learner’s permit. To our knowledge Angelle never opened the book. Her dad completed the required hours with her behind the wheel in record time because she would not stop nagging. He claims a dramatic increase in gray hairs with her at the wheel, especially on one very long drive up the central California valley. She and her dad waited in the long DMV line only to discover when their number came up that she did not have the necessary paperwork. Unlike her level-headed siblings, Angelle blew off her last behind-the-wheel instructor hour without informing her dad. She insisted that he take her to the DMV for her road test.
A second time, after getting angry at her father for reminding her to collect everything necessary for her application, Angelle forgot a piece of paperwork. They stood in the DMV line for nothing and she, once again, screamed and ranted at her dad the entire ride home.
She hemmed and hawed and finally took her driver’s test just after her 18th birthday, passing it the very first time. Much to my surprise, Angelle’s examiner saw nothing of concern; whereas her brother and sister, who were so well prepared, suffered repeated failures in their early attempts to pass their exams.