Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chugga Chugga: My Little Red Car

For those of you with young ones, you may have recognized the title of this blog post.  Yep, it is a play on the Wiggles  "Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car" song which has been played many a time here in our household.  It reminds me of my first car.

My husband and I were talking about our first cars and this inevitably led to a discussion on when our daughters would be allowed to get their licenses.  Fast forward thirteen years. Would we buy them their first cars?  Would they be responsible for paying their own car insurance?  When would they be allowed to use their car?  What offenses would warrant losing this privilege?  We agreed to disagree and decided that this topic is something we would have to entertain when the girls are much, much older.  It was interesting though to talk about how different my husband and my experiences were in regards to learning how to drive.

What was your first car? Mine was an '89 red Ford Escort.  The year was 1996. I still remember the exhaust and engine problems this car had.  It spent much time sitting in the local mechanic's shop, getting repairs. My car was nicknamed Little Red.  My friend's car was Big Red. 

I picked the car out myself.  I had no clue how to go about choosing a car.  I needed a car to learn how to drive.  My experiences behind the wheel were few and far between.  There were the stints sitting on my dad's lap when I was little, turning the steering wheel while he worked the gas and the brake pedals.  This was in our driveway by the way and not on the highway.  There was also that one stint driving bumper cars.  I  kept getting stuck and needing help from one of the amusement park workers.  Who can forget the infamous go-karting outing which also ended badly.   Luckily only my pride was hurt and I walked away only with a nasty headache.

Once driving with my sister during the summer we were struck as my sister was pulling out at a light.  It wasn't a bad collision and my sister had been driving my mom's car.  My mom owned a tank. In fact, there was only a mild dent.  Yet, the collision left a bigger impression in my memory.

Let's face it-I was scared to get behind the wheel. The one time my mom "attempted" to teach me to drive, she kept grasping the dashboard, slamming her foot on an imaginary break, and making little gasping noises.  All of this was before we even made it out of the parking lot.  A dear friend bravely taught me to drive in my little red car.  I probably should mention that I was 19 at the time and in college. This was the same friend who had nicknamed her car Big Red.

I even taught myself to parallel park the night before my driving test.  I used our riding lawn mower and my mom's car.  A picnic bench turned on its side resembled the curb. After rereading the driver's education manual, I attempted to teach myself this skill.  Looking back, my mom was a pretty good sport for letting me attempt this.  Maybe she was making up for her inability to shore up her nerves enough to teach me this necessary skill herself.

Needless to say I managed to parallel park my little red escort the next morning (after one failed attempt).  I luckily had a very nice, understanding instructor in the car with me.  No cones were damaged in my attempts.  I passed my test and officially was given my license.

Unfortunately, may our picnic bench rest in peace.  The lawn mower fared better though.  It seemed fine the next time I started it up. You would never know I had hit it.  It already had a few scratches on it so who would notice a few more...After two successful attempts at teaching myself parallel parking and feeling mighty proud of myself, it appeared that the third time apparently was the "charm".

What are your thoughts on teens getting their licenses?  

Memories or thoughts on the financial aspect of this milestone?

*Photo credit: donvito101 from stock.xchng


blueviolet said...

Very few of them are actually prepared and mature enough for it. Hence the number of accidents, and the high cost of insuring them. I've been lucky with my own kids, but my parents (there are 6 of us kids) had accidents from every single one of us. What a nightmare!

rachel... said...

I might be a minority, but I think teens shouldn't be allowed to drive until age 18. I certainly won't let my teenagers have their own car before age 18, and they'll have to pay for it. I'm fine with letting them have their license (if they can manage to pass the test!) at age 16, and borrowing my car (to go to WORK, for example) but I think those two years should be used to save up for the car they want they turn 18.

My mom attempted to teach me to drive once, too. Once. And she never got in a car with me again. Until recently, that is, and she still was bracing her hands against the dashboard! Ha!

I was 21 and in college before I got my own car, which I paid for myself. It was an older white Mercury Tracer. I don't remember giving it any nickname other than "Piece of Sh*t".

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

This was a great post!! I didn't get a car of my own until 1998 when I went off the grad school in another state and even then it was my mom's old car that she passed on to me. I was super grateful though!! But I never actually picked out a car until I was married. It was an exciting experience. I got a black Honda Accord with tan leather interior. It felt like nirvana. Unfortunately we traded it in a few years later for my mom van which I now appreciate, but took me a few minor breakdowns to accept. (I don't mean to sound like a princess, but for some reason the mom van phase made me feel old and lame for a while. Now I love it.) As far as teens and driving, I don't know!! My kids are still so little it is hard to imagine them in anything but a tricycle at this point, but I know it's right around the corner.

PS Thanks for all your wonderful and kind comments on my blog lately!! I appreciate all your support and your thoughts. XOXOX

MommyLovesStilettos said...

My parents bought me my first car (a 98 Cavalier) and I paid my insurance/gas because I had a part time job. I don't even want to THINK about my kids driving. That is a scary thought to me!

J. L. W. said...

The thought of my daughters (only one is old enough to drive a tricycle) driving makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I do think 18 yo'ds are more mature when it comes to driving and even 21 yo'ds. I think having to buy my own car made me appreciate it more.

@ Rachel-I think all first cars need that nickname otherwise it would take away from the first car experience:)

I know most parents hate having to drive their kids everywhere (that alone could be a full time job depending on where you live) so it will be interesting how my feelings change when that dreaded time arrives.

Chelle said...

I love this post. I remember driving with my parents when I had my permit. My Dad, who was typically the calm one, would get SO freaked out, raising his voice, etc. It was awful. My Mom, who was typically the one who disciplined us, was calm, cool and collected. I preferred driving with her :)

My first car was a Chevy Nova--I think it was an '88? It was handed down from my Mom...and it was a piece of junk! It got me through those teen years, though...I sometimes miss that little car ;)

Lourie said...

I got my license late in life too. We had a friend of the family teach me, since my mom was very much like yours. hhaha. I do think teens should be 18 before they are licensed. It's a maturity thing. Should the parents buy them car? I am on the fence about it. On the one hand, they could go places and not depend on you for rides. On the other hand, they really need to learn and appreciate responsibility behind owning a car. Tough call.

I have only 4 years to go for kid #1 to get her license. GULP!

Confessions From A Working Mom said...

Personally, I am scared out of my mind at the idea of G as a teenager-- let alone driving!

My parents not only bought me my first car (a 1991 VW Jetta-- the year was 1998) and paid my insurance, too. They even paid for the speeding ticket I got after having my license for just 6 weeks (mostly because they didn't believe the police officer that my car could travel at 78 mph! it wasn't a very powerful car!).

I like to think that I will teach G more financial responsibility than my parents taught me (they did a great job, but they indulged me as a child/teen); so YES, I might help her with the payments, but she will have to be responsible for the bulk of it!


Buckeroomama said...

I didn't get my first car until I was about 23. My dad asked if I wanted an MBA or a new car. Guess what I chose. He got me a brand new Toyota Corolla after I got my driver's license. I was sweating buckets the first few times I took it out and I had to have a hand/face towel with me every time, despite the A/C!

Right now, living in HK, the kids will not be getting their own car. They don't really need one. Now, if we are to move back, that's a different story, but I still think no car until they're in their 20's.

Linda said...

Oh goodness, my first car was nissan sentra.

I remember being so excited about getting my license at 16 and driving to school That said, I dont think kids should get their license until 18. Good lord, I am lucky I am alive, I was so reckless at 16.

But I live in NYC so I am not sure what the deal is with kids here and how I would manage the driving lessons. We dont have a car so how would my daughter practice. I have many years to have to deal with this.

BTW Thanks for the follow from FFF on MBC.
Following you too,


One Love Mama said...

I think it depends on the child. I got my license at 17, my Grandma bought me a gently used bright red Honda civic. I never got one ticket... I always have been a super cautious driver.

J. L. W. said...

I have become a more cautious driver now that I have little ones. The sad part was that it took me having babies to be more cautious. Unfortunately, I have a lead foot. I am hoping it is not a genetic trait.

parenting ad absurdum said...

Oh my... I don't even want to think of my kids driving - and the thought of a motorcycle makes me want to lock them in the house for the rest of their lives! I don't know how my mom handled it. My first was an 1979 (hand-me-down) Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra. BIG car!

Missy said...

What a great post! I'm a little misty-eyed, thinking of Rhonda Honda. She was an '87 Honda Accord hatchback and I loved her.

Hopefully I'm not repeating too much of what's already been said in other comments. Here are my thoughts... I think if we're financially able we will buy our children their first cars & get them something safe and reliable. BUT... they will be involved in paying for (or helping to pay for) insurance, gas and maintenance. And I believe very strongly that having a car at 16 is a privilege, not a right. We'll be quick to revoke the privilege if our kids aren't handling the responsibility.

Ugh. I can't even fathom my 4-year-old DRIVING. Time needs to slow down!

Susan Tipton said...

Every family and every teen is different- but do you really want your 18 yo to have to learn to drive their first year in college? And who would ride shotgun?

When our teens turn 15 and pass their permit I make them drive, everywhere, everytime we go anywhere. In fact I make them drive home from the permit testing.

I figure that a solid year of driving with me along, almost everyday, in every condition, with a car full of siblings is the best training possible. Btw, I drive a 12 passenger van.

As far as ownership- we feel that when you've earned the money you can own a car. When they turn 16 they have to pay their portion of the increased car insurance.

We've done 2 children this way so far. The second isn't quite 16 but she is a great driver. Driving matures them, gives them independence, allows them to be a help to the family.

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