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Published August 12, 2013, 10:00 PM

Parenting Perspectives: The young man takes the wheel

Late last month, I took a few days off, but I needed to come to The Forum to fill out my time slip – because I and my creditors really like it when I get paid.

By: Kathy Tofflemire, INFORUM

Late last month, I took a few days off, but I needed to come to The Forum to fill out my time slip – because I and my creditors really like it when I get paid.

I threw my car keys to my older grandson and asked, “Do you want to drive downtown?”

It seems only yesterday he was learning to ride a two-wheeler. Now he has his learner’s permit, which allows him to legally practice driving.

A person with a valid license, who is at least 18 years of age and has had at least three years of driving experience must ride in the seat beside him. Check, check and check. I have been over 18 for several decades, and I’ve been driving for a long time.

As we traveled from my home in south Fargo, I made every effort to remain calm, although I wished he would hug the center line a little tighter. Why is it that when you are a passenger, it seems as if people drive too close to parked vehicles? I think those parked cars made him a little nervous, too. On the way home, he took a different route than I usually do because, he said, there are fewer vehicles parked along the curbs.

He did just fine, asking questions when he wasn’t sure of something.

At one point, I thought he was driving rather slowly, being extra careful. But when I checked the speedometer (easier to see by a passenger in my Saturn Ion, in which the instrument panel is in the center of the dashboard), I noted he is going the speed limit.

Yes, Kathy, the monitor on Fifth Street South is not lying to you each day when it flashes your speed in red, rather than white, as you travel to work.

It would be good if my grandson didn’t follow my lead on this. Although, I’ve actually only received a speeding ticket once in all my years of driving. My young chauffer was a baby in a car seat when I was stopped by the State Patrol while traveling U.S. Highway 2 on my way to Minot. The patrolman played on my guilt by noting my “precious cargo.”

My grandson is gaining experience in a variety of vehicles, including his mother’s car, mine and his father’s car and pickup. He notes that my car has less get-up-and-go than his mom’s. Kind of like its owner. He prefers to drive Mom’s. I don’t blame him; it’s a nicer car than mine, newer, too.

I can offer him some wisdom gleaned from my many years on the highways and byways: primarily to pay attention to all the vehicles around him. I would encourage him to follow his instincts. Many is the time I have “just had a feeling” about the driver in the lane next to me, and have avoided a collision when that driver suddenly cut me off as he changed lanes. (Unless, of course, that’s just part of women’s intuition.) The proverbial blind spot – mine and theirs – always scares me.

But here’s the biggie. OK, it’s my No. 1 driving peeve, and I have told my grandson this: Use your turn signals. All the time. I don’t care if it’s at a rural intersection without another vehicle in sight. Just get in the habit. Nothing ticks me off more than sitting at an intersection and having some fool make a right-hand turn in front of me without signaling .

So, good luck, young man. Continue to drive carefully and read the copy of “Please, God, I’m Only 17” – the Dear Abby / Ann Landers heartbreaker written by John Berrio – that I am about to give you. Love, Grandma.

Kathy Tofflemire is a copy editor at The Forum. Readers can reach her

at (701) 241-5514, or ktofflemire@forumcomm.com

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