Teaching your kids to drive

by Denver Dad

My son just turned 15, which means he is going to get his learner’s permit. I’m hoping DW and I can be patient driving instructors for him. When my brother and I were learning to drive, my mom would always jam her foot on the imaginary break and turn the imaginary wheel and yell “Watch! Watch!” when she’d see a car coming on a side street a half-mile down the road.

What were everyone’s experiences like teaching their kids to drive? How well did you handle it? And for those whose kids aren’t old enough, what do you think you’ll be like as a driving instructor?

Advertisements

172 thoughts on “Teaching your kids to drive

  1. OMG why would you do that when there are professional driving schools? DSS didn’t get his license til he was 18 but none of us (DH, his ex, or me) taught him. Let the professional teachers do it.

  2. My step son is 15 and we haven’t begun teaching yet. It depends on my hormonal levels the day of. If my estrogen is high I’ll be a raving lunatic much like your mother slamming imaginary breaks and jerking wheels that aren’t there. Now if I’m having a normal day… I may just sit in silence and nod when he does something correctly. Poor kid. May the odds be ever in his favor.
    My dad taught me and told me to floor it. He wanted to see how ballsy I was. He let me scare him. It was a blast.

  3. Even after they go to driving school they still have to spend hours driving with their learner’s permit, with a parent in the passenger seat.

    We are a few years away from this, but our plan when ours hit 15 is to have them drive everywhere, all the time, in whatever car they’ll be driving when they’re 16. That way when they hit 16, they’ll have a full year under their belt and all kinds of driving conditions, and be totally familiar with their car.

  4. I was out this week with my elementary school friends to celebrate our 50th bdays. The topic of driving came up because a few of them have kids old enough to drive. We were city kids so we couldn’t even practice in NYC with a learners permit because you had to be 18. It is different now, and the age is slightly lower for NYC kids. My mom had to take me to Yonkers because kids could be 16 to drive with a learners permit. You could practice in the city of it was with a drivers Ed instructor so we all took drivers Ed. Most of us took It from the same guy, and we were laughing so much about our instructor. We remembered how much fun we had because four of us drove around together with him. He even took us to our road tests.

    The lessons with my mom were rare because we had to drive north to practice, but she did teach me several little tricks. She was calm for her personality.

    We recently had to drive together and I thought we would be killed on the interstate. I had to let her drive because I got a colonoscopy so I couldn’t drive. I said to her that everything that she taught me seems to have disappeared from her brain including changing lanes without looking even when tractor trailers are in that lane.

    PSA, I know a few of us are now 50 and I recommend that you don’t wait to get screened. I was fine, but a couple of my college friends have tumors that seem to have been caught early.

  5. I made DD nervous, so she did her practice hours with her dad. The fact that she drives a manual pickup elevated her status with a particular subset of guys at her school.

  6. OMG why would you do that when there are professional driving schools?

    I don’t know about CO but in MA you need 40 hours of driving with a licensed adult. Not that there is any auditing of it that I know of.

  7. DH is our designated driving instructor. DD has had her license for 6 months now. She did take Driver’s Ed (required if you want your license before you’re 18) – but I don’t think it was very helpful.

    Lauren – I keep meaning to mention that I really enjoyed the book “The Two-Family House.” Thanks for the recommendation.

    And now that I’m 50, getting a colonoscopy is high on my list of things to do. DH is a year older than me and hasn’t had one yet. I plan on getting mine and then nagging him relentlessly. Cancer runs in both our families (not necessarily colon cancer – but it’s not something I want to delay).

  8. DD can also drive a stick shift – the car she uses most of the time has a manual transmission. We joke that we don’t have to worry about any of DD’s friends trying to borrow the car since none of them will be able to drive it.

  9. I’ve done this a few times now with Au Pairs. They have “lots” of experience before they get here. It’s unclear what that exactly means – my impression is that even in the big cities in South American, many people are never on multi-lane roads, nor do they need to park in cramped conditions. The three Au Pairs we have had driving here have all arrived confident that they could easily adapt to our conditions. After about 5 minutes in the car, they were terrified – people expecting you to stop at stop signs! yielding! right on red! turn signals!

    I realized that while I may be able to do a massive medical resuscitation without raising my voice, I don’t have the nerves to teach a new driver and I outsource the hell out of that task. Once they have a few lessons with an instructor (we have a school of off-duty police officers here that I am partial to), I have them practice driving a well defined 1-2 mile route with DH a few times, then by themselves a few times. I don’t need them to drive on the freeway.

    All 3 have been safe drivers and we’ve never had a driving incident – but I think that is because we take the process slowly and seriously. I worry more about the overconfident and distracted driver than the cautious new driver. Having said that, the next Au Pair will be from Germany and I expect to do little to no training at all.

  10. We have successfully launched 3 drivers. I am calmer than DW. Mostly it’s just about the driving, no big secrets. For each one, they passed their paper permit test, left the DMV with their permit and I tossed them the keys and said “you drive.” We drove a little in the parking lot then out onto the roads. All of them hugged the right side/line a lot at the beginning; I just think it’s what happens. In NY the req’t is 50 supervised hours of driving and 15 of them at night; the form is signed by the parent, so no real “official” verification. Beginning on the days they got their permits they usually drove either to or from school, plus other errand driving, for the 6 months until they could take their road test so the 50 hours was no problem to achieve.

    At least in NY the driver is not added to the insurance until they get their license.

  11. In general, Mr WCE is a better teacher than I am and also a better driver. Getting DS1 enough driving time shouldn’t be too hard. (50 hr + driver’s ed is required to get your license at 16 here, and I am already counting the years till DS1 can drive) Getting the twins each 50 hr of driving time could be harder. If they don’t both want their licenses right away, it’s probably manageable but we may be obliged to make a road trip to Iowa or Denver to get enough hours in. Since they are already interested in driving the lawnmower, which has a choke, blade and gears, I’m am pretty confident that they’ll be able to stay on the highway by the time they’re 16.

    Skilled driving, such as parking in a small space and merging in traffic in urban areas, will probably be something they tackle have to tackle as adults after college. At least they won’t be learning during a BART strike while trying to read directions and figure out 80 vs 580 vs 880 vs 980 and east or west like I had to. Some nice guys hanging out at a gas station in Oakland ended up advising me…

  12. Just finished this. My first question is does your child want to drive? If no, the whole thing will be a struggle. We did the driving school as it made the classroom part easier, but due to sports, she didn’t take the class until she was 15.5 yrs old. After 3 days she got her permit. Class was 5 days a week for 3 weeks. Then they do 7 classes (2 hours each – you drive 1 hour, you observe 1 hour). Anytime after their permit is obtained and not including the 14 hours with the school, they must do 30 hours minimum driving with an adult (over 21) and they specify what those 30 are – parking 1 hour, turns 1 hour in daylight and 30 min of turns in the dark, etc. – that the adult has to sign and put their DL# next to each requirement. You turn in this log when you take your final driving test.

    The school had an issue when we were trying to get our behind the wheel, plus kid was gone over have the summer, the summer before last, plus kid didn’t really want to drive, so getting to the license point was a long journey. Add on that at times it can take 6 weeks to get an appointment to take your test. She did pass first time and in time to start driving herself to school this year. She was 16.75 yrs old.

    Her dad was supposed to be her adult, but he would yell at her (normally he is calmer) and would say turn here without giving her enough time to process what she needed to do in the beginning. I outsourced a couple of hours to a friend, then I did the rest with her. I really think you need a big neon sign that says STUDENT DRIVER! A couple of times she scared me silly. I think the hardest part for her was getting the idea about how much space she took up in the universe.

  13. Rocky, we’re having the driving school do the initial 6 hours that they do, but he still needs to practice.

  14. “My first question is does your child want to drive? If no, the whole thing will be a struggle”

    This is my situation. I’m sure DS will learn…eventually.

  15. Houston – Once she got a little better at it and she realized there was going to be some freedom associated with it, she was more gungho. However, she calmly said last weekend she was going to visit a friend in a smallish town 3.5 hours away over Thanksgiving. When I asked how are you getting there, the answer was drive herself. With less than 6 months behind the wheel on her own, I’m not ready for that yet, especially as there are some stretches without cell service. We have agreed with another family, whose DD is the same age, but has been driving longer, that they could go together to visit their mutal friend. Date to be set….

  16. After carpooling for 5 years, we stopped this year, as the kids were just going in too many different directions. Without the carpool, I drive a minimum of 60 miles/day, some days as much as 90, just taking them to and from school, and to and from sports. When they can drive, it will be so life changing for me.

  17. Austin – I would actually worry less about the cell coverage and more about another person being in the car with her. Teens get into way more accidents if they are driving with other teens: http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

    My mom (occasional gasping and clutching the dashboard) was better than my dad (yelling at me, especially when parking) at teaching driving. Once I had learned how to drive my dad was REALLY excited to teach me how to drive stick, but I never really learned well enough to like it and have shied away from sticks since then. Not sure yet how DH and I will be – I like teaching when I am music directing but I do get frustrated when dealing with the kids’ homework, so we’ll see.

  18. I do not understand this not wanting to drive thing! We couldn’t wait to not ride the bus to school because it was so uncool. We had a teacher at school that did the driving hours with us and he was a seriously weird guy. I remember some of the girls not wanting to be alone with him.

    My neighbor is letting her 13 year old practice driving with her around the neighborhood. She said her dad that with her when she was 13 and she was such a better driver because of it.

  19. This is a great topic. Like Fred, I have launched three drivers. But one thing that helped was the probably obvious realization that driving involves two sets of skills. The first is absolute control over the car. That part can be taught anywhere there is a parking lot and by almost any competent driver. The second and far more difficult component is the ability to handle all kinds of situations with other drivers, weather, and driver distractions from cellphones and passengers. I did not let the kids try that second part until they were solid on the first.
    You can outsource part of this process but unless you have unlimited resources you will need to plan to spend a lot of time in the car with your kids. No one cares as much about their safety as you do.

  20. Skilled driving, such as parking in a small space and merging in traffic in urban areas

    WCE, by the time your kids are driving, the cars will be doing that by themselves.

  21. RMS, there will be cars that do that, but probably not MY family’s cars. Permit is less than 6 years away.

  22. When they can drive, it will be so life changing for me.

    My friend’s younger daughter just got her license. Til then, Friend had been spending so many hours driving her daughter around. The first afternoon that she didn’t have to drive, she cried, because her baby was growing up. After that she’s just been doing the happy dance, as has her daughter.

  23. My 16 year old has not expressed any interest yet. None of his friends are learning, and he is able to walk or bike to most things he wants to do. I am not pushing because I am not sure he is ready in any case – he has inattentive ADHD and has a lot of trouble focusing on the kinds of things (sirens, sudden left turners, pedestrians) that you need to focus on to drive.

    I was in my 20’s when I learned. I didn’t turn 16 until I was in my senior year in HS. I did have a learners permit and took drivers ed, but never got good enough to get a license. Then I went to a university that did not allow students to have cars on campus unless they were registered car commuters (most lived on campus or commuted by transit). I never even knew anyone with a car when I was in college. So I didn’t learn until grad school, when my then BF, now DH, taught me on a manual transmission.

  24. “Without the carpool, I drive a minimum of 60 miles/day, some days as much as 90, just taking them to and from school, and to and from sports.”

    Holy bejeebers! And I whine about our Thursday night teen class! :-)

    My mom tried to teach me how to drive. For about an hour, and I would not be surprised to learn she was literally biting her tongue the whole time. She finally just lost it when I was trying to start on an uphill from a stop at a red light — “my clutch! my poor clutch!” From that point, my stepdad took over, and he was a complete natural — calm, patient, a total teacher.

    For us, DH will be doing the lessons. Which is weird, because in our normal daily lives, I am the calm one, and he is the one who loses his shit on an infrequent-but-recurring basis. But, man, he is a natural teacher; when he sits with DD to look at homework or study for a test, she is laughing and giggling, etc., whereas when I try, we are sniping and she is stomping off within 5 minutes flat. He has already taken her out to the parking lot several times, and she *loves* it.

    I have no idea what our requirements are; DH assigned the job of figuring that out to DD. But my goal is to get her the license as soon as possible so that she can be available to pick up DS after school, she can drive herself to/from her classes, etc. Man, if she can take them both to/from the camp bus next summer, that would be freaking *awesome* (although that’s probably too optimistic; I think MD requires supervision for the first 6-9 mos after they turn 16).

  25. Now that I think about it, I think my dad taught me to drive a stick shift. We learned automatic transmission driving in school, but I had to drive around the shopping mall parking lot on Sundays in the ’63 Studebaker with the terrible 3-on-the-column manual transmission. I’m sure it was painful for him. OTOH he regularly took Valium, Librium, chloral hydrate, and beer, so that probably helped.

  26. I am the driving teacher. My son has his permit and he’s really a pretty good driver. Started out in a big empty parking lot and then have advanced to larger and larger roads. We did get the “Please be Patient. Student Driver” magnet for the back and so far people have been pretty kind. My challenge is that sometimes I feel like he’s going so slowly and then I’m like “oh he’s going the speed limit!” My bigger concern is the downtown city driving and then the beltway driving. I think we will try that at off peak times and build up.

    I don’t get the kids not wanting to drive. I’m not paying for a million ubers and I’m not driving you everywhere – get your license already.

  27. We couldn’t wait to not ride the bus to school because it was so uncool.

    I can’t seem to find any data for the US, but I get the impression that in typical suburban totebag communities, more parents drive their kids to school than in the past.

  28. I get the impression that in typical suburban totebag communities, more parents drive their kids to school than in the past.

    Where we are, it is so spread out that if you are in public school, taking the school bus is just awful. Kids are on the bus for well over an hour. Our neighborhood pick-up time is 6:25 (!!!!), for school that starts at 8:05. That school is only about 15 minutes away, so if I were a parent, no way would I put my kid on the bus at 6:25am. Drop off is the same, in reverse. School dismissed at 2:55, drop off time in our neighborhood is around 4:30.

    We don’t have a school bus option, since we’re in private.

  29. I’m not paying for a million ubers

    You’d have to run the numbers. The average surcharge for a teen driver is about $200/month. If you need another vehicle, etc. It may not be any cheaper.

  30. Oh my gosh, I wanted to be calm and patient. I realm tried not to be one of “those” that did exactly as yours did 😊 to no avail with our oldest daughter. I ended up having a friend help and we would trade off.
    Now our younger daughter it was much easier as she was a natural. I ended up starting out in parking lots or even taking a couple half days at work off to get her on the road without much traffic. Much better experience 😊

  31. “‘We couldn’t wait to not ride the bus to school because it was so uncool.’

    I can’t seem to find any data for the US, but I get the impression that in typical suburban totebag communities, more parents drive their kids to school than in the past.”

    Exactly. It’s sort of like the mom who complains about her 30-yr-old living in the basement but still does all the cooking and cleaning and doesn’t make him pay rent.

    On the flip side, are there hidden disincentives to driving? I know I said this before, but I had no interest in learning to drive, because my mom’s rule was that when I started driving, I needed to pay her for the insurance, gas, etc. But we lived in a walkable neighborhood, so I could get everywhere I needed just fine, so why get a part-time job and give up all my free time just to pay to do something I can already do for free? Once she got desperate enough to drop the “I’m going to charge you for this privilege,” I was more than happy to get my license. And then return the car empty, like all good teenagers. :-)

  32. “I’m not paying for a million ubers and I’m not driving you everywhere – get your license already.”

    I have never paid for an uber for my kid, and right now, the only thing I have to drive him too is his weekly meeting with his ADHD counselor, which I would continue even if he were drivng because I usually briefly consult with her.
    If my kid drives, I would have to pay for insurance, which would be much more expensive!

  33. “Our neighborhood pick-up time is 6:25 (!!!!), for school that starts at 8:05. That school is only about 15 minutes away, so if I were a parent, no way would I put my kid on the bus at 6:25am.”

    Which, I think, sort of proves Rhett’s point. I’d think that 1.5-hr school bus rides would provide an excellent incentive to get one’s license ASAP.

  34. My two oldest walk to school, as do most of their friends. I know some kids drive but three isn’t much parking at the school, and we live so close that he would literally be in the car for 30 seconds. When I have meetings at the school, I always walk

  35. Two down, one to go. Youngest DS has his permit and is enrolled in driver’s ed. He drives to school each day, then I take the car and drive to work. It’s not at all convenient (his school is in the opposite direction of my workplace) but necessary. The school he attends in the morning (STEM program) is located in a rough, urban neighborhood next to housing projects and driving there is completely different from driving around our suburban neighborhood. I am a yeller, but I also spend the time with DS, and DH is less will to do so. 95% of the time DS drives fine but it’s the 5% where the real learning takes place. Today a car full of young guys coming from the oppposite direction turned right in front of us as we were going through an intersection. DS leaned on the horn. This is NOT the neighborhood where you do that – the last thing you want is an altercation, which I had to explain to him. Then there are people crossing in the middle of the block, darting between parked cars, pulling young children along behind them, or just wandering into traffic because they’re impaired. I’m always saying “what do you think that person’s going to do? What do you think this car on the right is going to do?

    I was raised in the city and I didn’t get my license until I was in my early 20’s. I’m getting calmer with each successive kid. Some of my friends don’t enroll their kids in the full drivers’ ed program but I think it’s useful, and the kids take advice from the instructors more seriously than from me.

  36. On the flip side, are there hidden disincentives to driving?

    Many of them aren’t hidden. Graduated licencing means you can’t drive your friends around which decreases the value to the kid.

  37. Do any kids bike to school? Our middle school is easily bikeable. The high school is bikeable distance-wise, but we’ll have to think about how we feel about sharing the bridge with no bike lane with cars in the dark/rain.

  38. @Rhett – true, but I would view that as something that makes the license less of an incentive, vs. a real disincentive. I was thinking more of what my mom did — complaining how I didn’t seem to want to get my license (which would have made her life miserable), without having a clue that, hello, it was her own conditions that created that.

    If you really want your kids to drive, you have to make it more advantageous to them than the alternative.

  39. We won’t be there for a while… currently DS can’t drive a scooter unless it’s backwards, so there’s that.

    My favorite parts of learning with my mom were the times when she would say “OK, this is not in the book, but here’s how you do it…” I always knew I was learning the way to drive that minimized my likelihood of dying or getting into an accident. The first time she said this, I was driving home from HS, which required merging from one highway to another (Rt 17N to Rt 80W for all you in Bergen Cty). At the foot of the ramp was a yield sign. If you yielded, you never got on Rt 80. So, as we approached the ramp, she calmly said “this isn’t in the book…as you come down the ramp, identify a hole between the cars in the right lane, match your speed to theirs, and drive through the yield sign, filling the hole. If you can’t find a hole, use the shoulder. Whatever you do, DO NOT STOP.” They have since reconfigured that ramp so there’s no longer a yield.

    That and she taught me how to navigate traffic circles and roundabouts. Valuable information now, 20 years later, that my city is re-configuring downtown to have roundabouts.

    I hope to be as patient as she seemed.

  40. I drive the kids to school because the school bus is sometimes late. They take the bus home. It takes about an hour to get home (v 15 minutes if I drove), but I can’t pick them up at 3pm. This is a good compromise.

  41. L – I know about that. The no cell service, the very boring road, and that this other kid is very responsible. Many of her other friends would be an absolute no for that very reason.

    Disincentives – graduated license means a driver under 18 can only take one unrelated person under 18 in the car with them (they can transport all their siblings regardless of age/number); and many schools here only seniors or those with commuting issues that the bus won’t accomodate (work/study or out of zone transfers) are allowed to park on campus are the big ones for the kids. Here anyway, as long as your kid is on a permit and not a license, you don’t pay the extra premium for the kid on your insurance.

    The bus is sometimes more of a pain than a help. For DD#2 school gets out a 4:30 and bus leaves at 4:35, which means she must go straight from her last class at the far other side of the building/campus to the bus without stopping even to go to the bathroom or she won’t make it. It takes her 40 minutes to get to the bus stop that is still 1 mile from home. If she walks home, it is an hour commute. If we pick her up,it is about a 25 minute round trip.

  42. Ginger, are you in the northeast? I apologize, but I can’t remember if you live around here.

    I still honk in tough neighborhoods, and my husband wants me to stop, but I learned to drive with NYC taxis and livery cab drivers. They’re nuts, and I still think I’m better at drinking in the city than my husband. The problem is when I take my city driving (honking) to the burbs. I’ve had to learn to control my honks.

  43. I am better at drinking than DH, but that is supposed to be driving!!!! I’m on the subway, and I didn’t get to check my post.

  44. I went to a regional high school that was 20 minutes away and so I had friends from four different towns (and my boyfriend lived two towns away). That was the major incentive to get my license because my parents worked and under no circumstances were they going to drive me around during the week. I took the bus until my best friend got her license junior year and then never rode it again. I don’t know what the rules in Mass are but at the time you could drive other kids around and you just had to be home by 1:00 until you were a certain age (can’t remember if it was 18 or 21).

    I’ve also recently noticed a lot of reticence in other parents to let their elementary school kids take the bus around here. I’ve met two women in the last few weeks who were complaining that they didn’t realize when they bought their houses that the younger ES kids were on a different campus that’s 3 miles away because that was going to make their mornings crazy (the older kids are at the school that is right in our neighborhood). I suggested that they just let their kids take the bus and they looked a little horrified. It does come early (7:00) for school that starts at 8:00 but the alternative is to sit in your car for 30 minutes (a lot of traffic in the a.m.).

  45. Ya I’m so not one of these “my kid will never take the bus” parents. If it’s offered and isn’t ridiculous (i.e. takes 2 hours to get to school when I get get him there in 30 minutes), kiddo can take the bus.

  46. We live literally a block and a half from the MS/HS. There is always a horde of kids walking and a crossing guard at the busy street. Yet, the lady across the street insists on walking her 7th grader to the MS in the morning, and from the MS at dismissal in the afternoon. It totally baffles me.

  47. When the guys were in elementary school we were pretty fortunate with the bus transport. We’re a 10min max drive to the school which started at 9. Their pickup was between 825-840; in the afternoons it was the reverse; they were home within ~30 mins of dismissal so they took the bus. All because we were about the last house on the route in the morning and the first one the route in the afternoon.

    Once in MS/HS (private) they could still take the bus but the pickup time was/is a little before 7 for them to get to school by 8 with a transfer at one of the other schools. Since I drive right by the MS/HS anyway it was just easier for everyone for me to drive them. We got to leave ~730am so everyone got at least 30 mins more sleep every morning.

    Teens not wanting to drive: mine all wanted and got their licenses as close to 16.5 as they could, but they l say that others are in no hurry to get theirs because if a parent is driving them then they can be on their phones and in touch with friends. Not so if they are driving.

  48. I will say one of the great surprises of not carpooling is how much my kids talk to me in the car now. Not sure if having the other kids in the car made them reticent, or if it’s coincidence, but our hours in the car together are good ones. Especially right after school, they fall all over themselves telling me about their days. That never happened with other kids in the car.

    DD and others – are you just having them learn on whatever car you are currently driving (or your spouse)?

  49. Lauren, I grew up in a borough of NYC and now I live in the suburbs. WCE, My kids biked to school, to friends’ houses, to jobs. Youngest DS still does a lot of biking.

  50. Driving will come soon enough for my older kid. He wants to get his licence as soon as possible so that he won’t have to ride the bus. The bus commute is not bad at all. It is about 40 minutes door to door. When older kid is a senior, younger will be a freshman. They have already decided that younger kid will not be riding the bus but will be going to school with her brother. The high school is a reverse commute for us, so they won’t face much traffic both ways.
    Our area is suburban/urban. It is not as tough as big city driving nor is it the totally quiet suburbs. Neighbor kids don’t seem to have had a problem and they are definitely put to use doing errands (I think Risely mentioned this). Our neighborhood has a couple of kids who will start driving at the same time at both of my kids so there will be safety in numbers (or not).

  51. WCE – I’m pretty confident that my 25 yr old cousin does not know how to ride a bike. She always wasn’t “into” getting her license either. Whereas, her 37 yr old sister and I were always on our bikes (until HS, when we couldn’t bike to friends’ houses), and both got our licenses at 17 (min age in NJ at the time). Sister promptly moved to NYC and still lives there so she’s a self-admitted sucky driver. I drove all over the place, and to college, so in terms of experience, I have them both beat by miles, literally.

    25 yr old had a graduated license, which was new territory for me. I remember sitting shotgun while she drove to Walgreens once and watching her park… it was hysterical. She would shimmy the wheel little by little to get the car to turn into a parking space. My aunt couldn’t figure out how to explain hand over hand, so that was the lesson of the trip. I tried so hard to not laugh at the poor girl… it really wasn’t her fault.

    I wonder if it’s a regional thing, and a generational thing.

  52. In our neighborhood, a number of kids take the bus. We are not far from the elementary school. I am guessing there is no time advantage to parents driving their kids and then navigating carpool. If occasionally the kids are running behind they can be driven to school.

  53. I think it all depends on the kid’s goals and how much parental transportation is available. A friend of my DD is a life guard and worked two places last summer about 50 hours a week. Her parents both work, so it was drive or lose income. She’s working on college money, so there was the motivation. Another friend, her mom will modify her work schedule to always take the child wherever she wants to go, even in the summer. Zero motivation to learn to drive there.

    @Lark – DD was learning on our cars, but then my dad passed away and mom was blind so she couldn’t drive. We took over their car and it, after some work because it sat more than it was driven, became DDs car. It is now in my name, but she is the primary driver.

  54. We will likely rely heavily on the driving school. I don’t think DH or I will be good driving instructors. We got our licenses as adults and weren’t taught in our teens. We will probably be imparting wrong driving habits to our kids.

  55. DD and others – are you just having them learn on whatever car you are currently driving (or your spouse)?

    Yes. DS is going to learn on DW’s 2001 Outback, which will be his when he gets his license. We are getting a new vehicle for DW in the spring.

    We’re with those who are making him get his license because it’s going to make our lives easier. We’ve told him he stops getting rides to school when he turns 16.

  56. DS1 learned and took his road test on the car I was driving at the time, a 13yo sedan with ~175k miles on it. It became his when I bought a new (to me) car.
    DS2 learned and tested in the small 8 yo SUV that was at home when DS1 went to college. DS1 still drives that car, now 12yo with ~120k miles on it
    DS3 learned and tested on the car I was driving at the time, a 15yo sedan with ~140k miles on it. It has become his; I bought a new (i.e. never used) car for myself.

  57. I signed DS up at the local driving school yesterday. It’s four 8-hour class sessions and then he can take the written test to get his permit. You don’t need any behind the wheel lessons to get a permit here, which I find surprising. He will do 6 hours behind the wheel with the driving school.

    Do you schools no longer have driver’s ed? When I was in HS, we had it one quarter sophomore year.

  58. You don’t need any behind the wheel lessons to get a permit here, which I find surprising.

    You mean a license? How could you legally have behind the wheel lessons without a permit?

  59. I think kids don’t care about licenses so much because they can “see” their pals without driving – via cell etc. In our day, if you wanted to see ppl, you had to drive to them.

    DS talked about not bothering with a license. I said fine, but as of [a date certain that I felt was reasonable], I won’t be driving you anymore. That solved that issue immediately.

    I was okay as a teacher with him but much better with the girls. I think he lurched forward more (gunned it) and hit the brakes far later than the girls, so he made me a little nervous. I never felt or acted nervous with the girls. I wish I had done better with him. He has a stick now and OMG is riding with a new stick driver far less pleasant than I was prepared for. Gives me a lot of appreciation for my sister, who taught me to drive a stick.

    We pay all gas and insurance for the kids but expect them to use the car for our benefit fairly often – groceries and other errands, etc. I mostly want them to get to drive because they love it, and it allows me so much more spare time. That’s enough for me – beyond he odd grocery or pharmacy run, I don’t need them to cough up anything.

  60. It isn’t really so much paying for the uber as it is about be an adult – take care of yourself. YOu don’t get driven around like the Queen of England.

  61. “I’m always saying “what do you think that person’s going to do? What do you think this car on the right is going to do?”

    That was me too. A skilled driver is one who can anticipate what other (stupid) drivers or pedestrians are going to do. At least a year before they got their permits, the boys were moved from passenger mode to co-pilot mode, required to ride shotgun and tell me whose turn it was at four-way stops or whether I should be slowing down or speeding up through a yellow light.

    None of our kids wanted to learn to drive. Why would they? The passenger mode is so much nicer. You can eat, sleep, text, do homework, text, listen to music with earbuds, text, check Instagram or whatever is cool, and text some more. Drivers have to be alert and responsible and pay attention to the road, which is both boring and terrifying. If we had had smartphones and an inflexible schedule of extracurricular activities/homework preventing us from hanging out at friends’ homes or the mall after school, we would not have cared as much as we did about getting our licenses.

    In most cases, IMO, it’s best for kids without serious learning challenges to get their permits as soon as the law allows, and to spend the high school years driving places with their parents and getting in the many hours that are required to be competent drivers. Sure, they can learn later, and some of you did, but they will never again have in-house FREE driving instructors who care about them. It takes a long time to turn out a competent, responsible driver, and it’s inconvenient as hell to put aside that time when you would both rather be doing other things. And, like teaching kids any skill, it will always be easier to make the drive yourself rather than to take the extra time necessary to make that errand a teaching moment. We completely overestimated the number of hours that DS1 would have to practice driving during the school year. It was dark when they left for school and dark by the time he got home from practice. Many weekends were taken up with meets and practices, and though kids need to learn how to manage driving when they’re tired, it’s not safe to have them learning basic skills in that condition. So he was 17 when he finally got the license. But when he did, he knew how to drive on the Beltway and in downtown DC as well as the suburban streets.

  62. “You don’t need any behind the wheel lessons to get a permit here, which I find surprising.”

    Same here. Just an easy computer test making sure you know what a stop sign looks like, and a vision test. And you don’t have to let your auto insurer know either.

  63. We are in the teach to ride a bike phase of life rather than the teach to drive a car one. And learning to ride a bike is much easier than it was in my day! Why didn’t our parents do it the way that they do now?

  64. It isn’t really so much paying for the uber as it is about be an adult – take care of yourself. YOu don’t get driven around like the Queen of England.

    If it’s cheaper and easier to uber you should just uber. I don’t see why you’d put up with all that extra time, expense and hassle just because that’s they way things were 20 years ago.

  65. I suspect insurers have done the analysis and determined that the hassle/legal issues/risk around permitted drivers is such that requiring only licensed drivers to be paying customers is reasonable. One of the best things about growing up in Iowa was having a permit from 14 to 16 and so getting plenty of time to practice. I stink at all things requiring physical coordination and I remember him patiently sitting for several minutes while I tried to start a stick on a hill. He finally waved at the guy behind us, who was sitting there amused in typical rural Iowa fashion, and I learned the guy behind us was his buddy from work.

  66. And learning to ride a bike is much easier than it was in my day! Explain, please, really.

  67. “And learning to ride a bike is much easier than it was in my day! Explain, please, really.”

    Maybe it’s the balance bikes. My oldest didn’t have one and it was a long and painful process. My son had been tooling around on a hand me down balance bike since he was 3 and Dh took him out once with a real bike when he turned 5 and he just got it.

  68. Fred – we (at least I and my siblings) learned by our parents running next to us and letting go, then falling, etc. Now, you take off the pedals and turn the bike in to a balance bike. Once they get the balance, steering and braking part down, add the pedals back and voila! Off they go. My boys learned in about an hour and without really falling.

  69. oh. My kids learned the same way you describe learning yourself (and the same way I did).

  70. DH and I had a mild disagreement last night over whether DD should pay for gas. We are a two car-family. DD mainly drives the older car; we also use this older car some of the time. We cover her insurance plus maintenance/repairs on the car. DH wants DD to pay for all of the gas for the car regardless of whether she is doing all the driving or if we are also using it. He feels she doesn’t appreciate that we are covering the cost of her insurance plus maintenance costs. DD is wondering why she has to pay for gas to go to soccer practice since last year we drove her to soccer and didn’t charge her for gas.

    We’ve compromised that DD will pay for gas half the time and we’ll pay for the other half; it will be up to DD to track it.

    I don’t have DD doing much in the way of errands for us because she is so pressed for time – although she did help me out by picking up DS the other day.

  71. Interesting. We never considered making our kids pay for gas. College DS still sends me a text when he fills up the car so that I can move the $ to his account. We also paid for insurance, though if any of them had had a careless accident (so far, they haven’t), there would have been discussions regarding repair costs. When DS1 graduated, we also paid for his used car. But after that, he was on his own. He is very frugal and still driving that car. I’m not sure that paying for his gas during his student years would have had any teaching purpose. The boys often pointed out (nicely) that they were helping us out by running errands and transporting younger siblings, which was true.
    Where does your DD get the money to pay for gas? Does she have a job?

  72. My middle one is 15 and for the past year or so she has been practicing on a gravel road, with DH or I. she drives whichever car we are using at the time. For some reason, she prefers the pickup to the Camry. She wants her license. She is the youngest of her friends and the only one who doesn’t have a license. She probably won’t get it on her birthday because she has an event on the day she turns 15 1/2 and it will be really challenging to get her permit that day. Here, you have to have a permit six months before you can take the driver’s test.

    I had a niece who was so sure she knew enough to pass the permit test that she didn’t read any of the prep materials. Two test failures later, she admitted it might be prudent to study and finally passed the test.

    I still remember being irked that I couldn’t get my license on my 16th birthday because that day was a Saturday.

  73. My son took the written test and got his permit at 15. He had no interest driving for quite a while and didn’t take the driving test until he was 17. The first time we went they had added a requirement since he had taken the permit, and he had not watch the required video. We had to reschedule it for another six weeks out and come back then. He ended up being sick then, so it wasn’t until summer until he got his license. By that point he had decided he wanted it, so he wanted it immediately. So then he was put out about having to wait. You can’t see how hard my eyes are rolling. But he did get it before school started, and I do very much appreciate the added independence for him. His school is 11 miles each way so refusing to drive was not an option. I would not force a teen who did not think he was ready to drive to go ahead and drive. The consequences of inexperience and bad decisions can be fatal for someone. (A coworker, her husband, and one of their children were killed in a wreck where her teen son was the driver). I read just yesterday that traffic fatalities have climbed for the first time in more than 50 years. The author speculated that it was the availability of so many apps. The cognitive toll of splitting attention is resulting in more accidents.

    With my daughter, she wanted to drive every single day from the day she got her permit. Back then, since we did parent-taught drivers Ed, I just had to sign an affidavit that she was ready to drive and that was it. I wish it’d been that simple with my son.

  74. You must have the permit here to “prove” you know enough about the rules of the road before you can get behind the wheel. But, the permit requires you to have a licensed driver at least 21 years old in the front seat.

    We give DD a gas allowance. I figured out about how much gas she needs to drive herself to all the things I don’t have to drive her to any longer plus about 10% more. It goes in her bank account every month and she is to let me know if it is not sufficient. Same way about food for school activities. She has always need two meals a week during football season and one meal a week the rest of the school year. I put in an amount to cover that each month and she lets me know if its not enough. So far so good. I do check her banck account periodically just to make sure we don’t incur any fees.

  75. We also know a family where the parents were killed when a teen driver was driving. She made a left, not realizing how fast a car from the other direction was coming. Her parents were on the passenger side (one up front, one in back), and were killed instantly. It was so, so sad.

    I am irrationally obsessed with safe cars. What car to have DS drive will be a hot topic around here in 3 years, so I’m always interested in what you guys are doing.

  76. SSM- I never had to pay for my gas as a teen for that reason, that otherwise my parents would have driven me. In fact, I held off on getting my license for over 18 months because I liked being able to do homework in the car to save time rather than having to drive, since I spent almost 2 hours a day in the car because of far-flung sports practice locations. So I agree with Scarlett.

    BUT on the other hand, I do think it’s important for teens to do some actual work contributing to the family- chores, watching younger siblings, meal prep or whatever- especially if mom and dad are still bankrolling everything. Yes, school and sports are a full-time job, but adults work long hours and still have to make dinner, keep up the house, etc. So many families (including the one I grew up in) want their kids so focused on academics and extracurriculars that they don’t prioritize anything that won’t show up on a college resume. Huge mistake, IMO, as the adult world comes as a rude shock.

  77. Two things I hated about child rearing: potty training and driver training, In NJ a child had to take three driving lessons with a “professional” in order to get a discount when the child went on your insurance when he got his permanent license.

    My husband did very little with the kids except practice parallel parking in an empty parking lot. Anytime the student driver went with me anywhere they hopped in the driver seat, I found it hard not to yell and keep calm. By the end of the third my hair was white (not kidding),

    One of the worst fights of our marriage occurred when I came home from Florida after taking care of my FIL for 10 weeks and found out my husband did not take my son out once. He said it made him nervous. I said boo f— woo and it went downhill from there, It’s going on 12 years since then and it still rankles.

  78. You mean a license? How could you legally have behind the wheel lessons without a permit?

    I mean a permit. When I was learning to drive in NJ, you didn’t get your learner’s permit until you did 6 hours behind the wheel with a certified instructor. This was after completing the class and passing the written test. Then you got the learner’s permit that allowed you to drive with a licensed driver (over 18) in the car.

    Here, you don’t have to do any behind the wheel instruction. Once a kid completes the class and passes the test, they have a full learner’s permit.

  79. When I was learning to drive in NJ, you didn’t get your learner’s permit until you did 6 hours behind the wheel with a certified instructor.

    Interesting, I’ve never heard of such a thing. Although, it must work. Having worked all over the US I’d say NJ has the best drivers hands down.

  80. If it’s cheaper and easier to uber you should just uber. I don’t see why you’d put up with all that extra time, expense and hassle just because that’s they way things were 20 years ago.

    It’s not just a pure cost calculation. There is also this:

    The boys often pointed out (nicely) that they were helping us out by running errands and transporting younger siblings, which was true.

    This is the biggest reason for DS to get his license: it will make our lives easier. If he was ubering everywhere, he wouldn’t be able to stop at the store on his way home or do things like that.

    I don’t understand asking them to pay for gas when they are still in HS and living at home. Per above, he will be making things easier for us so why penalize him for it? I don’t understand paying for gas when they are in college, though. If they want to take road trips or whatever, they can pay for the gas.

  81. “Having worked all over the US I’d say NJ has the best drivers hands down.”

    Haha! Are you kidding? According to most New Yorkers, NJ drivers are the worst. :)

    “All of them hugged the right side/line a lot at the beginning;”

    I always thought for sure we were going to side swipe all the cars parked on the right side of the street when my oldest was learning and I was sitting in the front passenger seat. My gasps and grim face made both of us nervous. I’m not a good driver and not a good teacher!

  82. “When I was learning to drive in NJ, you didn’t get your learner’s permit until you did 6 hours behind the wheel with a certified instructor.”

    DD is correct – at least until recently. I’m not sure how the shift to the graduated license changed all that – if it did.

    I have a family member who’s a certified instructor – so I spent a few hours with her one week and banged it out. I waited until 16.5 to get my actual permit though, and really only had 6 months of practice before the test on the course. My family member came back in ~3 days before my full exam to teach parallel parking. I nailed it, aced the test, and moved on. I can say though that the last 3 weeks before my test were the ones where I drove the most – my mom broke her ankle and could not drive. Enter student driver.

    Rhett – I think that’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said about a Jersey driver. We are usually insulted for being aggressive or fast. My theory is that we are all driving defensively, but because of the number of cars, when we go to less populated areas we look like aggressive a-holes.

  83. “Do any kids bike to school? Our middle school is easily bikeable. The high school is bikeable distance-wise, but we’ll have to think about how we feel about sharing the bridge with no bike lane with cars in the dark/rain.”

    DS sometimes bikes to school along with a parent (his school is on the way to work, and he is a bit too young to bike/walk himself). When he’s in middle school, I would let him bike/walk alone I think.

    The large public test-in HS we pass has a full bike rack & an active bike share station, but most kids seem to commute via public transit. There is not much parking around the school so I never see kids driving themselves. No public school busing beyond ES here. Free/reduced public transit instead. 9th graders are expected to be able to navigate the CTA on their own. (DH took public transit to HS as well back in the day.)

  84. “If it’s cheaper and easier to uber you should just uber. I don’t see why you’d put up with all that extra time, expense and hassle just because that’s they way things were 20 years ago.”

    It is about being an adult and taking care of yourself. Are you gonna wait until you absolutely HAVE to drive to learn how to? These are all parts of taking care of yourself? What happens when there’s not an uber?

  85. “I don’t understand asking them to pay for gas when they are still in HS and living at home. Per above, he will be making things easier for us so why penalize him for it? I don’t understand paying for gas when they are in college, though. If they want to take road trips or whatever, they can pay for the gas”

    100% agree.

    I think learning to drive is like learning to swim. It’s a life skill, regardless of whether you use it or not.

  86. “I think kids don’t care about licenses so much because they can “see” their pals without driving – via cell etc. In our day, if you wanted to see ppl, you had to drive to them.”

    I think this is very true. DS now sometimes does NOT want to go play with a friend, because if they are each at their own homes, they can play together online on their PS4s, whereas if they are at one another’s house, only one person can play at a time.

    Then again, DS and her friends congregate at the pizza place/our house more days than not after HS. So it’s not that the desire to get together goes away entirely; I think it’s just that phones/texts/etc. provide a reasonable substitute between visits.

  87. Moxie,

    I can see having it in case of an emergency or other need. But you seemed to be saying they’d have to drive even if it was cheaper and easier to uber.

  88. My friend got a call from his college freshmen son’s Uber driver letting him know the kid left his phone in the car.

  89. Rhett, I am because you need to know how to drive. That takes time and experience. Its not just like deciding to bike.

  90. Moxie,

    All the evidence on brain development says you’re far safer learning to drive at 22 vs 16.

  91. Rhett – well assuming there is always a bus, subway or uber where you are then go ahead. Hope you aren’t looking for a job somewhere without any of the above mentioned amenities.

  92. I think the NJ thing of practice driving with a professional before getting a permit must have been a thing for a long time…back to when my MIL was learning to drive in the 50s because she ask all of my kids, before they had their permits, if they had been out practicing so they could get their permits. Made no sense at all to me…how could you legally drive on the roads without at least a permit. Thanks, DD, for clarifying.

  93. “All the evidence on brain development says you’re far safer learning to drive at 22 vs 16.”

    True. But my kids will be under my roof from 16-18, so they can learn at their own pace, and I can adjust their level of freedom based on my observations of how well they are handling it.

    At 22, they will be out of my house and on their own. Their learning curve may be shorter, but it will be steep. I am not convinced that the risk of “learn at 22 totally on your own” is lower than “learn over a couple of years while younger but under supervision.”

  94. DS2 lives in a big city where a car is way more trouble than it’s worth. He takes public transport for work and some fun stuff and uber when the subway is not convenient. BUT he is a good, capable driver, and if he decides to move to a different area or take a job that requires travel by car, he will be able to do so.

    Being able to drive keeps more options open, both professionally and personally. Even if you live and work in a dense area well-served by public transit and Uber, you may have to travel for work to areas that are neither, and you don’t want to have to tell your supervisor that you can’t take that plum assignment because you don’t know how to drive. Not to mention that many of our country’s finest vacation areas are accessible only by car.

  95. Moxie & LfB,

    Option 1: Get their license at 16 but you find it’s easier and cheaper to just have them uber everywhere. Then winter and spring break of senior year in college some intense practice so they are ready to commute to their first job.

    Option 2: Get their license at 16 and then either get them their own car of have a parent rearrange their schedule so the kid has a car available to drive where they need to go.

    It’s easy to see that option 2 could be both more expensive and more dangerous.

  96. With self driving Ubers already on the streets of Pittsburgh, I’m fairly certain that the need to get a license at all ever will be something that comes up when the median totebag grandchild is 16.

  97. Option 1: Get their license at 16 but you find it’s easier and cheaper to just have them uber everywhere. Then winter and spring break of senior year in college some intense practice so they are ready to commute to their first job.

    This also assumes that they will go to college where it is feasible/sensible/not entirely weird not to have a car.

    WCE, I saw the link.

  98. This also assumes that they will go to college where it is feasible/sensible/not entirely weird not to have a car.

    In that case you can teach them over the summer before they start college. Cognitively, the longer you wait the lower the risk.

  99. I’m sure you also lower the risk of all kinds of things if you have them go to Community College and live at home and boy is that cheaper.

  100. “Cognitively, the longer you wait the lower the risk.”

    Theoretically, yes, but I am wondering how that correlates to accident data. My suspicion is that the most accidents occur in maybe the first 6 months to a year. So is a 16-yr-old who is driving to/from school on local roads (ours are 25-35 mph), who legally cannot drive at night or alone with friends until XX [months experience/age], more likely to get into a bad accident (major injuries/fatalities) than a 22-yr-old who is off at college or at a job somwehre and can basically operate unsupervised?

  101. Both of mine were happy to learn to drive–DD was terrible (hugged the curb and jerked the car while changing lanes) and DS was really pretty good. He claims his years of Mario Cart paid off.
    We paid for gas because we would have been driving them anyway, and them driving actually cut the mileage in half.
    And both of them had wrecks early on ( hitting a stopped car from behind) and nothing since.

  102. who is driving to/from school on local roads (ours are 25-35 mph)

    It goes without saying that no teen is ever going to go off script to get laid, get drunk or score some weed.

  103. “People who are high drive exceedingly slowly – don’t ask how I know that.”

    Well, if it was MJ, that was very well known when I was in HS. You see the hot, lifted car with the loud exhaust driving 20mph on a main road at 2am on a Saturday, and it’s pretty clear what’s going on.

    One reason MJ is safer than alcohol.

  104. “We live too close for biking, but my oldest always biked to cross country practice”

    Because running to XC practice would be redundant?

  105. “She would shimmy the wheel little by little to get the car to turn into a parking space. My aunt couldn’t figure out how to explain hand over hand, so that was the lesson of the trip.”

    DS said his driving teacher taught that turning method, and that the one-handed, wax-on/wax-off method was strongly recommended against.

  106. My son got his permit in June and still hasn’t done his driving instruction (at least 6 hours with instructor is required) because he wants to practice with us first and we just haven’t gotten it done. This is a reminder that I need to do that — stop dreaming about finding a big empty parking lot during broad daylight, and finding a wide-open day, and just get it started. And I’ve already paid for the instructor lessons, but still need to set it up with the instructor!

    My daughter probably will not let me put it off this long once she gets her permit; she is anxious to be driving.

  107. “I am irrationally obsessed with safe cars.”

    My guess is that it’s not irrational at all.

  108. “And learning to ride a bike is much easier than it was in my day! Why didn’t our parents do it the way that they do now?”

    Until a few minutes ago, I did not know what a balance bike was. My guess is that your parents similarly did not know of balance bikes back when they taught you; perhaps they did not exist.

    This sort of makes me think about DS’ small kid driving experience. We had one of those Flintstone cars when he was in preschool, and he was great at driving that. He’d fit through narrow spaces without bumping anything, could park it very well, and was so self-assured and confident doing so. But now, he’s nowhere near as good at parking a real car.

  109. Both my kids learned to ride a bike w/out training wheels at 4. The oldest never had a balance bike, but the key was an appropriate sized bike. DH took her to the park, had her ride down a hill, and she never fell off and kept on peddling across the field. Younger DD had a balance bike and then did the hill ride on the super small bike (but fit her). I often see kids and parents in the neighborhood struggling with learning ride and almost always the kids are on a huge bike.

    Based on DH’s skills for teaching the kids to bike I’ve bestowed on him the driving duty. I know I’ll be the door clutching, slamming foot on fake brake, raging lunatic mom.

  110. I’m also kind of a car safety nut, as well as very strict on car seat safety. I figure it’s the statistically largest modifiable risk we face of death or life-altering injury. So I bought a new car rather than used, and paid up for an admittedly ridiculous car seat that will let my kid remain rear-facing until 50 pounds.

  111. Cordelia, do you have venison steaks, ground venison, or what?

    Steaks seem to work best seared, not overdone. Stewing type cuts can be easy to get tough. When we had all that moose in the freezer a few years ago I did a lot of moose and mushroom pie, where I sliced it across the grain into fairly small pieces and cooked it in a stout gravy with herbs and mushrooms and onions and thickener (potato flour, corn starch, flour, whatever you use), and then baked that in a Pillsbury crust — they work well for savory pies imho. Ground you can sub for ground beef, but use it in things where there are other strong flavors to balance it. Like with a middle eastern spice blend, or Mexican / Southwest flavoring, or with red wine or stout in it.

    And there’s this one: http://www.food.com/recipe/apache-stew-293046

  112. About life experience…since she drives to school, I no longer nag about getting out of the house. I am not having to get her to hurry so after dropping her off, I can get where I need to go. She hasn’t been late yet or run out of gas due to poor planning.

    Our kids – do own laundry, alternate months of dish duty, and keep up their rooms. If major house or yard work is needed, everyone is required to pitch in.

  113. “Yes, school and sports are a full-time job, but adults work long hours and still have to make dinner, keep up the house, etc. So many families (including the one I grew up in) want their kids so focused on academics and extracurriculars that they don’t prioritize anything that won’t show up on a college resume. Huge mistake, IMO, as the adult world comes as a rude shock.”

    So true!! I really wish I had read this when my kids were little. They got too many passes for homework and swim practice demands, and it took me way too long to realize that I wasn’t doing them any favors by pretending that someone else would always take care of the laundry and meal prep when they were busy.

  114. In CT, parents must take a mandatory two hour class with their child if the kid wants to drive before the age of 18. There are also a couple of mandatory safe driving classes that all drivers under 18 drivers must take. The earliest a teen can apply for a permit is 16. The earliest they can take the road test is 120 days after the permit test, providing they have completed a full drivers ed program. If they took the minimal drivers ed program, teens must wait 180 days after the permit test to take the road test. After they get their license, they can only drive themselves or parents for 6 months. After 6 months, they’re permitted to drive siblings. After a year, they can drive anyone. Until they are 18, an 11 PM – 5 AM curfew applies.

    My first job out of college was with a public accounting firm in NYC. There were so many first year “juniors” without drivers’ licenses that the firm paid for our driving lessons because they needed us to drive to clients.

  115. Lemon is right about the small bike. The most successful bike learners in our neighborhood started very young on small bikes without training wheels.

    I started actively driving as an adult. Although I could get to work using public transport and took cabs now and again, it was very inconvenient. DH would have to give me a ride frequently to locations inaccessible by public transport. I hated not driving but I didn’t make a determined effort until DS was born. I had to be able to at least get him to a doctor if DH was not available. This more than anything else motivated me to get behind the wheel. I was terrified , going very slowly and cautiously, fearful of hurting someone. Similar to any other skill, I think it is better to learn to drive earlier rather than later.

  116. Cordelia, HM’s meat pie sounds good. I have a similar recipe for pot pie. I also have a sweet/sour recipe with pineapple, soy sauce, etc. that was originally for wild goose.

    I often cook venison/elk using the crock pot controller for sous vide that Mr WCE and the boys made me.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Sous-vide-cooker-for-less-than-40/

    I cook at 136 F for ~48 hr, make gravy with ~1/2-1 c water, 2 T corn starch and ~1/2 salt and the meat juice and serve over noodles. Best for a roast not thicker than ~2″.

    How old is the deer? Mr WCE’s last animals have been young and so haven’t been gamy. If the meat is gamy, tacos and chili work well. Deer is usually only 30-40 lb of meat so shouldn’t be hard to use.

  117. Cordelia, do you have a sous vide? There are lots of game recipes for the sous vide.

  118. I don’t have a sous vide. I may need one because I have a lot of deer. It was a four point. I have a lot of recipes for lamb. Would substituting deer for lamb work?

  119. My Western, rural state may have had the most lax driving laws. If you took drivers ed (6hours behind the wheel, 12 hours observing, 30 hours of class), you could get your license with a written test. I had a daylight only license at 15. My older brother had an unrestricted license at 14, but the law changed between us. The written test was painfully simple, and I have never taken a driving test. Though I’m sure I’m awesome.

    I vividly remember arguing with my mom about 14 year olds driving. She said, “someday you will be old enough to think that they are just too young to be alone behind the wheel.” I thought it was impossible, 13 year old me thought that 14 year olds were like th most mature thing ever.

  120. A high school friend se, but did not drive ever – lack of car to share, big argument with parents. She went to college in Boston, then moved to NYC. 20 years out of hs, and she has never owned a car. She can drive (and rents a car for the wedding in the mountains), but she will never be a comfortable, intuitive driver.

    Also, in the land of good judgment, my father encouraged me to get a motorcycle endorsement on my license in HS. The state was just beginning to place restrictions, and it could be had for an additional few test questions, if I remember. In the future, there was going to be a skills test. Every state has grandfathered that onto my license, so I am ready in case a motorcycle happens to come my way.

  121. Cordelia, do you have a meat slicer?

    My sister cuts thin slices and marinates them in teriyaki sauce, then cooks them on a grill or a skillet. Very good with rice and macaroni potato salad, or rice and kimchi, i.e., local style plate lunch.

  122. pretending that someone else would always take care of the laundry and meal prep when they were busy.

    Isn’t that the point of all the calculus? I’m serious.

  123. DS still hasn’t passed his test yet, so we still haven’t bought a new car with the suite of safety features.

    The trend appears to be toward more models having those features, and not just the highest, most expensive models, so when/if he ever passes, we’ll have more choices. E.g., the 2017 Corolla now comes standard with a package of such features.

  124. Cordelia, there’s also this: http://www.food.com/recipe/venison-sauerbraten-73114

    I think it works better to think of it as beef with a stronger flavor, rather than as lamb (though if you ever have goat thinking of it as lamb works). Hence the advice to use it where there are other strong flavors, especially if your household is lukewarm on the venison concept. And the other thing to be aware of is that it’s just a much leaner meat. That’s why game recipes traditionally call for lardons, the little pieces of bacon or pork fat (maybe salt pork?) that you stuff into slits in a roast.

    Finn, would this be axis deer your sister is cooking?

  125. Cordelia, when we get elk or venison ground and wrapped, we have 5% beef tallow added so it cooks like 93% lean ground beef.

  126. I worked with someone that didn’t have a license until she was 35. She was raised in Hawaii (!!), but she left at 17 to attend college in Boston. She worked in NYC, and she commuted by train to NJ. She took cabs or public transit every where, but then she had a baby and she realized that she wanted to be able to drive if her husband or babysitter wasn’t around.’t baby needed to go to classes, and doctors etc. It’s been six years, and she is always talking to me about cars. She loves to drive, and she is obsessed with her car.

    My mother insisted that I learn to drive as soon as I was eligible because my grandmother never learned to drive. A lot of women of the same age in NYC never learned to drive because it just wasn’t necessary. My stepmother doesn’t have a license, and she has some other female friends that never learned to drive. It is possible to get away with this as long as you live in a city, but Uber and cabs are not always available once you start to stray from some of the larger metro areas.

  127. HM, yes it would.

    Would axis deer be much different than deer Cordelia is likely to have in her freezer?

  128. “She was raised in Hawaii (!!), but she left at 17 to attend college in Boston.”

    As I’ve been made quite aware in the last couple of years, that’s very common among private school kids here.

  129. HM – if you’re looking for a big empty parking lot, fairly early Sunday mornings at a high school or mall parking lot are pretty empty. Until they figure out how hard to push on the brake/gas, a parking lot is much better for everyone.

    I do not make them pay for gas, because it makes my life so much easier. I agree with the being responsible for tasks of daily living.

  130. Ah, MBT, I think I’d have to go a ways to find a high school parking lot that both looks like a regular parking lot, and isn’t chained off when the school is closed! And likewise, the malls in town all have parking structures. I could drive him over to Windward mall early one morning (other side of the mountains) but perhaps I’ll do better to find something acceptable that’s closer to home. Possibly some of the nearby park parking is fairly open on a Sunday morning. Or go with the other thing I was considering, Lagoon Drive, which goes out around the runways at the airport and is the access for a lot of light industrial stuff that’s closed on Sundays.

    Finn, I was curious whether she or her husband was hunting locally. Molokai? AFAIK it doesn’t make a real difference to flavor.

  131. I don’t have kids but I do remember one thing about learning to drive: I didn’t necessarily learn how to drive from my instructor. I learned by watching my parents before I was even old enough for a permit. It was helpful for me if my dad didn’t make me panic by shouting “Watch out!”, but alert me to things before they even happen. One tip my instructor did tell me was to find an “escape route” and not let myself get boxed in on the road. If someone stopped short, I was in a position to switch lanes safely. Best of luck!

  132. Talking of driving….an acquaintance of mine told me that her DD took her husband’s car without his permission and drove around the neighborhood.
    The kid is yet to get her learner’s permit.
    The parents are divorced and the girl wanted to stay with her father. The girl’S Granddad was coming to pick her up when he saw her pull in the driveway. He did talk to her but didn’t tell the parents. A neighbor saw her driving and stalling in the middle of the neighborhood and told her Dad. All hell broke loose and she was grounded. Now she wants to come back to live with her mother.
    This family is not Totebaggy and some kids really want to drive.

  133. Rhett, when DS lived with two other guys right out of college, he wanted to hire a cleaning person but they didn’t want to spend the money. He was glad that he knew the basics and it was hilarious when he told me about the “rules” he tried to establish for household routines. DS2 has the money to spend on cleaning help but also a long list of items he “needs” to buy so he is doing it himself. When they were living at home I explained that outsourcing chores was one way to manage but that first you need to know how to do it yourself and then you can make an informed decision about the highest and best use of your time. If you are a good and efficient cleaner you can often opt to do it yourself especially if your quarters are small.

  134. Honolulu – you can also seek out an office park of some kind. I’m sure land there is at a premium so big flat parking lots may be hard to find.

    Louise when we were 14/15 my friends and I would sneak their car out in the middle of the night all the time. Roll it backwards out of the driveway and drive around and coast it back into the spot. All fun and games until a boy died in 9th grade. No booze just an unlicensed driver taking a curve too quickly. Do kids still do this or no? We set the alarm to keep the kids in.

  135. “The trend appears to be toward more models having those features, and not just the highest, most expensive models, so when/if he ever passes, we’ll have more choices.”

    Finn, I have been very happy to see this. When you mentioned this to me last year, my research said $25-27K for a Crosstrek. Now I am seeing many more entry-level models with it (plus some of the earlier/more expensive models may be coming available on the used market as well). I am still torn by the safety-vs-sacrificing-brand-new-car-to-new-driver debate. I am currently leaning toward just giving her the use of my car for the first six months or so when she is only allowed to drive with supervision. But by the time she is allowed to drive alone on the highway and at night, I definitely want all those crash-avoidance features. And a gazillion air bags.

  136. HM, I hadn’t given thought to the geographical differences between an island and the vast, flat, open sprawl of a suburban area on a prehistoric beach. I’m sure it is difficult to find someplace.

    I took my parents car weeks before I had my license. My dad and just had the oil changed, so the mileage was written down. There is no denying it. So, once I got my license I started out grounded from the car for a while.

    Kids do you still sneak their parents cars out, because my son has told me stories about some of his school friends who liked to race at 2 am. I’m very thankful we live 10 miles from school in the opposite direction of these kids. Like Moxie, we set the alarm at night. One of the boys rolled his dad’s car. None of them were hurt, but I think it made them more aware that what they were doing was dangerous.

  137. “I explained that outsourcing chores was one way to manage but that first you need to know how to do it yourself and then you can make an informed decision about the highest and best use of your time.”

    What Scarlett said. You need to be able to adjust your spend based on your salary and the value of your own time. If your kid graduates HBS and goes to Bain, ok, she can hire a cleaner from day 1. OTOH, if your kid graduates with $60K in student loans and is an assistant professor somewhere, he’d better know how to scrub a toilet. My plan is to prep my kids to take care of themselves in the worst-case scenario, and then hope they do well enough that they can afford to not have to.

    Personally, I didn’t hire a cleaner until: (i) my student loans were paid off, (ii) I had emergency savings built up, and (iii) I had enough room in my budget to cover both an IRA and post-tax savings. Since that point, the only toilet I have scrubbed was when I showed my kids how to do so.

  138. LfB I was always of the school of thought the new 16-year-old needs a brand-new car, spoiled, entitled, blah blah blah. After a few people I knew were killed in car accidents, or whose children were killed in car accidents, on one spring break week, I bought a new airbag-rich car for my first new driver the next week. She had been driving my 7 year old Miata. With the second driver, I just leased a Subaru Impreza with all the safety features I could get on it. I worry slightly less, do it’s worth it to me. Apparently many teens still don’t wear their seatbelts, so you can spend all you want on airbags but if they won’t do the basics to protect themselves it is a waste

  139. If your kid graduates HBS and goes to Bain, ok, she can hire a cleaner from day 1.

    Precisely. But why is that so rarely mentioned here as a reason for all the academic focus? It almost seems like it’s not enough to want to do well academically, you have to want to want to do well academically.

  140. Yeah, MBT, that is where I was as well, and the discussions here changed my mind. Even if I am bummed because *I* was supposed to be the one with the new car, dammit. :-)

  141. “But why is that so rarely mentioned here as a reason for all the academic focus?”

    Honestly, IDK. I will say I was raised with a strong ethic that you do for yourself. We weren’t the “type” to have other people do for us the things that we were unwilling to do for ourselves. We cleaned our own house, we painted our own house, we did our own yardwork, we took care of our own cars (at least until it got too complex to do so), we cooked our own meals, etc. Part of it was financially drive, but there was definitely a moral/ethical component to it as well that made me feel “wrong”/entitled/etc. to hire someone to do for me. It took me having an asthma attack at @27 (allergic to dust) for my mom to persuade me to hire a cleaner.

    Now, of course, I am convinced that hiring out that kind of chore is both economically efficient (hourly rate arbitrage) and morally good (I am providing someone else a job). But the reality is that I am just rationalizing my own preferences, in exactly the same way my mother rationalized hers.

  142. Off topic, but related to what athletics mean to a college: Directional school is 10-0 with ESPN CollegeGame Day on campus. http://www.freep.com/story/sports/college/2016/11/17/western-michigan-football-pj-fleck/94052958/

    “Now, because of the buzz the game and Fleck have created, everyone wants in. Terrentine has seen donations rise. Community philanthropy rise. Phone calls from alums who want to come back to campus and get involved rise…..School administrative officials won’t know until next year what this means for admissions. But applications will surely jump.”

  143. Finn – most kids practice before the lessons. Otherwise, you’re behind the wheel for the first time with a teacher you don’t know and a few kids in the back, watching you and ready to tweet about every little mistake you make. Much less stressful if you’ve already been practicing in a parking lot with a parent who can answer all your silly questions, and who won’t make fun of you for braking too hard and other first-time mistakes.

  144. @Lemon – that doesn’t surprise me at all.

    This is an interesting discussion. I do not want to send DS away to college not knowing how to drive, but I don’t know how much interest or need he is going to have before then. It depends where he goes to school as well. I went to school in a small town, but it was not common for underclassmen to have cars – in fact it was highly discouraged.

    On the cleaning service. For me, I had it in my mind from childhood that this was something that only rich people do, and that it was not of my world and way out of my budget. The only person I ever knew that had a house cleaner before I was 30 was a roommate from college who comes from significant wealth. But 10 years ago, in talking to friends/neighbors, I found out cleaning services here are many multiples less expensive than I had guessed. I got a recommendation and hired someone soon after, upping the frequency after a promotion. I don’t know how much of it is that the cost actually is lower than it was back in the day or if I am just in a different bubble or both.

  145. In terms of usefulness of a license during college, as Lemon is aware, a certain kid I know, desperate to find a way to get across country to see his school in the football championship, quickly figured out that although you must be 21 to rent a car, you need only be 18 to rent a U-Haul. And with the latter, your hotel needs evaporate. So…

  146. I grew up with someone to cook and clean. My parents could afford to hire help. But I was also taught to cook and clean. I had absolutely no trouble doing any household chores when I was on my own. Same with my sibling. If you can afford it and want to you can outsource. Even if you can afford to and rather do things yourself that’s fine. I don’t feel guilty if I outsource something.
    With my kids, once they are on their own they can figure out how to make it work for themselves. All of us who moved to a different country did, so I don’t worry about my kids doing the same.

  147. Finn – most kids practice before the lessons.

    Good tip ! I hadn’t thought of that.
    We have quite a few school
    and church parking lots near us. Our neighborhood is also place to practice with a few stop signs. It is tricky making a left out of our neighborhood. Maybe new drivers will have to drive down the road a bit and make a U turn.

  148. @ LfB – I hear where you’re coming from on the car. I got a new one this past summer, and part of my deliberation was do I want to get one that could be handed down to a new driver in 3-4 years, or do I want to just get whatever works best for me right now, with the knowledge that it would probably mean buying a new car for DS in 3-4 years. I really wanted a much bigger car than would be practical for a new driver, so I went ahead and got that. So we’ve just decided we will each keep our own cars, and buy a new one that will be for DS to drive, and me to drive as well if there are times I don’t want to drive my big one (any day that requires parking garage parking!).

  149. And adding to the joy, now DH’s car is starting to act up repeatedly (climate first, now “check engine” lights), and my TL is having weird recurring electrical issues (e.g., window goes down and not up; side mirrors make bad noises when rotating for backing up) and needs new tires/brakes. So now we have the possibility of three new/replacement vehicles in the next couple of years. . . .

  150. Finn – most kids practice before the lessons. Otherwise, you’re behind the wheel for the first time with a teacher you don’t know and a few kids in the back, watching you and ready to tweet about every little mistake you make.

    The lessons here are private so that’s a non-issue. I would much rather their first time behind the wheel be with someone who is used to dealing with that rather than someone who has never taught anyone to drive.

    Plus I’ve found that in general, they take instruction much better from people other than their parents. That’s why I never tried to teach them how to ski and just put them in ski school.

  151. To get a license before age 18, the kids have to have lessons with a professional instructor. I didn’t/don’t want my kids to waste that time with the basics of how to make the car go, stop and turn. Admittedly, I have significantly larger and easier areas to practice than the others on the board, but I have always felt that there is enough mechanics of driving the car that I wanted to be automatic before they started trying to avoid other vehicles that I figured it was best that they start early.

    I am amazed at how many parents let their kids drive without a license. The liability of that decision is astounding.

  152. DD, the short answer is that he wants to practice a bit first. We have to log 50 or 60 hours of driving time, and of that 6 is required to be with a certified instructor (we’ve actually purchased 10) and the rest with a licensed driver over 18, which is mostly going to mean a parent. So if he wants some of the parent driving time up front, why not?

  153. HM, if you or your DH has base access, there are a bunch of parking lots that are quite empty on weekends. If you go early enough on Sunday mornings, Magic Island is pretty empty.

    Or you could go to Costco before they open, practice a while, and then you’re there when they open.

  154. “now “check engine” lights”

    Some of those are pretty minor. Some cars are programmed for it to light based on time or mileage, and another common cause is spillage while gassing up.

    “weird recurring electrical issues (e.g., window goes down and not up; side mirrors make bad noises when rotating for backing up)”

    Some of those may be mechanical, not electrical.

  155. @Finn — alas, his “check engine” light was something like “timing belt” and “gears” (he had them pull the code) — not the “oops you didn’t tighten the gas tank lid enough” variety. :-( But, you know, it’s a 2011 model, and it has 60-70,000 miles on it, so stuff like that is going to start (I think he’s just annoyed because he’s had it in about 3 times for heating/AC issues in the past 6 mos, so this on top is extra buggy).

    And mine’s just getting old enough (’08) that those little things are starting to go wrong — stuff you don’t really care about enough to get fixed, but every time the trunk lid falls down and cracks me in the back of the head because I didn’t lift it to the “safe” point and the spring is shot, it irks me. But I still don’t feel like spending $2K on a collection of stupid little annoyances when the car works just fine.

  156. Timing belt replacement is something akin to tire or brake pad replacement– you should plan on doing it, or having it done, as a matter of routine, and should be factored into the cost of ownership.

    Not sure about your DH’s car, but DW’s old car had a timing belt, and the replacement interval was ~60k miles, so perhaps his check engine light was, in this case, just reminding him. I would expect that the new timing belt should be fine for the next ~60k miles.

  157. HM, I’ve always thought of the professional instruction as “teach the basics” then practice with the parents. Of course, my perception is colored by my previous experience that I mentioned where we had to do the driving with a pro before we were allowed to drive with a parent. So practicing first wasn’t legal.

  158. LfB, does your DH not have an automotive diagnostic scan tool? If so, from previous posts, he sounds like exactly the sort of guy who needs one.

  159. @WCE — ok, I am laughing, because it’s the perfect WCE comment, and it is also perfectly dead-on. Don’t suppose you can fit one of those in a Christmas stocking? :-)

    Also, turns out he was upset not because it needed a timing belt, but because apparently the Buick was designed so that you basically have to take out the whole engine to do it — dealer wants $4K, even the local guy wants $3K.

  160. “dealer wants $4K, even the local guy wants $3K”

    If the belt change interval is 60k miles, that’s a reason to not buy that car, or to get rid of it.

    DW’s old Honda had a 60k mile timing belt change interval, but IIRC it was ~a few hundred, not thousand, bucks to change it.

Comments are closed.