“P” Plates Mean “Panicked” Mother, More “Patience” Required “Please”!

I began learning to drive just after having my first child J and had two driving instructors – not because I had a death wish and no one wanted to teach me how to drive – but, because my first instructor damaged his Achilles tendon and therefore, could no longer instruct me  for a number of months. I then found an independent driving school,  Delta1 Driving School who was an excellent driving instructor but, was what I would call a “slave driver”!.. However, when ever I am driving or have to carry out manoeuvre I still hear his voice in my head so, he has left a lastingly impression on me! If you live in Surrey and are considering learning to drive, I can thoroughly recommend him – he is accommodating in terms of booking lessons but, also where he picks ups and drops off his students, lesson prices are reasonable and he does not charge extra for weekend lessons. He is a genuine person and cares about his students. Anyway, enough of the plug.

Before I had passed my driving test I was doing the nursery run on the bus – which was great in the summer months as people would not clamour to get on the bus which meant that I could quite easily get on the bus avoiding older school children as well as those who had just finished work. I would have to get four London buses in order to pick up J from nursery which takes about an hour in the car – on the bus it could take anything from 2 hours plus?!! So, I imagined that passing my driving test would totally revolutionise my life, that I would be able to take the children to see my parents who live over a hundred miles away when on maternity leave, that I could pick my husband up from a night out with his friends (like he has done for me, so many times in the past) and when the children are older I could taxi them to and from after school activities – I have a vivid imagination!

What I didn’t realise at the time was that you never really learn to drive until you pass your test and you are driving, alone in your own car. When I was having driving lessons often, I would notice that other more experienced drivers would have “learner blindness” i.e. they would not take into account that a person with red “L” plates, is learning to drive and to keep their distance and I thought I had seen some pretty fantastic driving from these people however, it is nothing in comparison to what I have seen since donning “P” plates and driving my own car. You do not realise how much you protected by “L” plates and your driving instructor (who was not adverse to winding down his window and informing the aforementioned driver what he thought of them in a few choice words!) when you are learning to drive and once both of these are no longer there, you gain a real experience of what driving on London roads are actually like.

What these people also don’t realise is what parents, with children in the car have to deal with whilst driving – I often wonder if this would make these people more patient and cautious? My son J after growing out of an acid reflux problem would be buckled into his car seat and we would get to the top of the road and he would asleep my daughter E, however, is a totally different kettle of fish! She has for the pass month or so began to cry when I strap her into the car seat and this continues until I park the car outside our home on the return journey. Any mother will tell you that hearing your child cry so is like torture and we are programmed to experience such emotion so that we respond quickly and ultimately so that our children (and our genes) survive. I have since tried a number or number of things at the moment we are trying out a CD which I downloaded from Amazon – it is a mixture of white noise, waves, rain and thunderstorms and it often soothes E when she is fussy during the day. I played this in the car today and she only cried on half of the journey home so, we shall see what tomorrow brings. I haven’t digressed as my reason for mentioning this is, that whilst having to deal with this torturous crying it is difficult to concentrate on driving – which is not ideal for a new driver let alone one that is also sleep deprived! I have no wish to go back to lugging E in a carrier and J in a pram on and off four London buses avoiding school children, commuters as well as the weather so I am hoping this is a phase that she is going through although, I seem to remember in the recesses of my mind that J was the same in the car seat and he did not stop crying until we put him in a forward facing seat at 8 months – which is approximately 3 months away.

So, if you one of those experienced drivers who drive a little close to learners and those that have recently passed their tests please consider who else maybe in the car with such people, keep your distance and do not drive intimidatingly or aggressively behind them.

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