I don’t think I’m ready for this, but I do not say it…yet.
My husband sits in the passenger seat, my daughter behind the wheel. I watch from the second-floor deck above them, my hand over my mouth.
She uses the switches on the left side of the bucket to drive the seat all the way forward. He coaches her, though I can’t hear what he says.
I don’t think I’m ready for this. She’s only eight. My heart races. She’ll get spooked behind the wheel and careen my car into Micah’s behind it. Or off the edge of the embankment. Or into the post that holds up the corner of this deck I am standing on.
“I don’t think I’m ready for this,” I call from the deck.
Micah leans out the open window. “I have the emergency brake,” he says, tipping his head toward the hand hovering over the center console. “And I have the key.” He holds it up like the mere sight of it will slow my heart. It doesn’t.
My baby girl, meanwhile, looks at me through the windshield. I see her smile through the broken glass, but my imagination is still on alert. If she does crash, and that airbag goes off… I can’t even bring myself to finish the thought. And they don’t give me a chance, either.
She reaches for the gear shifter, and the car gives a slight lurch into reverse. I didn’t even know she could reach the floor. So many times she’s done this from one of our laps, our feet controlling the pedals. But she’s never done this by herself. I’m not ready.
Their smiling faces aim to steady me. I hold my breath.
He helps her to set the wheels and draws her attention to the passenger-side mirror. She eases off the brake. The car rolls backward. He pulls up on the brake and the car stops, rocking back and forth into the muddy track they are creating together.
I watch as he instructs her to turn the wheels the other way and points to the rear-view camera on the dash. Her smile stretches from ear to ear.
I brace for another round.
Again, she eases off the brake, but with the car embedded in the mud of our drive, she gases it to get the car to move. One single, significant lurch and I see his hand raise the brake once again. His deep voice–though I still can’t make out words–floats on the breeze up to me. Gentle, kind, encouraging. My lips turn up at the corners.
This is how he taught me to drive with the kind of patience I do not possess.
The wheels turn once again, and she reaches to pull the car into drive. Three more goes followed by three more halting stops and I can breathe again. The car in park, the engine off, my daughter’s feet firmly planted on our muddy drive, and I can feel my smile growing.
I look to her. “Like a boss!” she proclaims, drawing out the end of the word like she’s on an episode of Ridiculousness. She throws her hands up and breaks through any tension I had left.
These two! They are my thrill, my life. The reason that I have yet to dip into my notebook for a slice. The reason that everyday is a great day to be a Davis.
I’m participating in the Slice of Life Challenge 2015. Check it out at Two Writing Teachers.