Janet Christie's Mum's the Word - I’m still in the driving seat, even if it's in the back

Every day’s a learning day with young drivers in the car

Mum's the Word. Pic: Gillian Vann/Stocksy - stock.adobe.com
Mum's the Word. Pic: Gillian Vann/Stocksy - stock.adobe.com

Youngest Child has passed the theory part of her driving test and has a date for the practical. As it approaches there’s an increase in input from the passenger seat. No longer just choons and “OMG!s” as she scrolls her feed but “did you check the mirror?” and “come out of gear and put the handbrake on” when I’m sitting in traffic, engine straining for a quick getaway. In a city of seven hills when the lights are only green for a nanosecond, I don’t think so.

“Well, you’d fail your test,” she says.

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“Yes. I would. And would you like to walk?”

I can see her following in the treadmarks of Middle Child who doesn’t hold back on driving tips either, and last time he was in the car left it with the handbrake on so tight I couldn’t release it. On the plus side, he’s a very safe driver, although ditto Eldest Child who doesn’t feel the need to give me tips.

So I’m surprised to find myself in my car (the surprise isn’t my occupation of the back seat with Middle at the Wheel and Youngest the passenger - I know my place, reinforced by the fact that this week I walked past a primary school in the rain and the lollipop lady told me to put my hood up so I did). The surprise is that Mr Health and Safety is fixated on another vehicle’s progress.

“There they are!” he says, changing lanes to edge ahead.

“Yaaaassss!” says Youngest Child, egging him on.

“What’s wrong with you two, hounding other road users. Stop it now. This car isn’t up to it, plus it’s stupid behaviour.”

“It’s Other Parent, and we’re going to the same place. At 20 miles an hour.”

In that case…

It’ll be brilliant when you pass your test,” I say to Youngest.


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“We could go on a road trip. Route 66, or a Thelma and Louise homage.”


“You know, famous roads across America.”

“I’m not into America. And why recreate a route in which two women are hounded to suicide?”

“OK, the North Coast 500, round the top of Scotland?”

“Actually mother, the reason I want to drive is to get to work and uni.”

“And give me lifts?”

“Yes, as long as you don’t comment on my driving. Cos I hate that.”

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