Saturday morning, after Collin finished his breakfast, Mr. Ken asked Collin what he had planned for the day. Not getting a definitive answer from the teenager, he asked the lad to get his coat and follow him.
The two of them got their coats on and headed out to the garage where Mr. Ken had stored some large orange traffic cones and an equal number of six foot poles with orange flags on them.
"Bro, what are these for?" asked the teen.
"Well now, young man, for someone who wants to learn to drive, he needs a method by which to learn and these will help give him that opportunity," Ken explained as he laughed at the still perplexed lad.
"Collin, anyone can make a car go forward but being able to back it up takes skill and lots of practice and that … is what I have planned for your first driving lesson."
Collin helped his guardian and mentor, Mr. Ken, take everything outside where Mr. Ken set up the traffic cones with a pole and flag standing up through the middle so Collin could see the courses being laid out. Collin helped set up a parking corral using five cones and poles that he would use to practice backing into and turning around in. Then the two set up a parallel parking space using five more cones and flags so Collin could practice doing that. Lastly, Mr. Ken set up the remaining ten into a slalom course; so Collin could practice making small turns going forward and backwards through the gates.
When they were finished, Collin stood back and looked over what they had set up for him to practice on. He thought it looked very daunting. Mr. Ken then brought out a mid-sized vehicle and told the teenager to hop into the passenger side and then he proceeded to show Collin how easy it was to do. When his big 'Bro' handed him the keys, and told him to get behind the wheel and try it, Collin wasn't so sure he was all that ready to drive.
Collin was very much afraid of the vehicle, at first. Sure, he'd driven the speedway cars at the amusement parks and other places but this was entirely new for him. He immediately recognized the responsibility he now held in his hands and it scared him. Seeing the lad's reluctance, Mr. Ken had Collin just drive around the large parking area, out in front of the house, and up and through the half-circle driveway that passed in front of the house. After about 30 minutes of doing that, Collin became more comfortable behind the wheel and from there Mr. Ken had the lad practice going forward through the slalom poles.
When he felt the time was right, Mr. Ken began to explain how he wanted Collin to back into the parking space they built and then had the teenager perform the maneuver. It took Collin three tries to back the car straight into the wide space but he was pleased when he was done. Then, Mr. Ken had him drive it out and slightly to one side and had him do it again. They did that about six more times from different angles and each time Collin got better and better at doing that. Then, they went over to the practice parallel parking area and again Mr. Ken showed Collin how to do it and then had the teen try it. It took the teenager six or seven tries, to get the hang of it, but there was a great big smile on Collin's face when he felt confident that he could do it.
The last practice area setup was the slalom. Just seeing the cones and poles standing there in a straight line intimidated the lad. Ken, sensing that, only had Collin drive forward through them again and then back around to the starting point. On the fourth time around, Mr. Ken had Collin stop and asked him to try just backing up and around the first makeshift pylon. Collin was nervous but slowly backed the vehicle up. He saw he was getting too close to the pole and he slammed on the brakes. Then he moved the car forward some and put it back into reverse and tried it again. After several attempts, Collin had gotten the vehicle all the way back towards the second flag.
They had been out there well over two hours. Ken could sense the teenager needed to take a break, and relax some, and maybe talk over what he had accomplished so far. The two of them went inside, and got some hot chocolate and cookies, and sat in the kitchen nook and talked. Sitting at the table, they both used their hands as their cars as they talked about what Collin was attempting to do. After about 45 minutes of relaxing and talking and discussing the ins and outs of driving, Mr. Ken threw the car keys to Collin and told him to go out there and have some fun. When he had the keys thrown to him, Collin was surprised but when he heard his mentor tell him to go out there by himself and practice by himself he became overwhelmed.
"Bro, are … are you sure you want me to do this with … without you? I … I 'm not too sure you should," the apprehensive teen stammered out.
"Collin, I think that is exactly what you need to do," replied Mr. Ken. "With me there you are afraid you'll mess up and be embarrassed. Look, the front drive is huge and it is private and there is no one out there to distract you. If anyone does come to visit, you can just pull the car over and turn it off. In the meantime, you've been through the three courses we set up and all you need to do now is practice until you feel comfortable behind the wheel. Remember, anyone can make the thing go forward. What I want you to practice is backing up and parking. This is only your first day so there is no need to learn it all today. Once you tell me you're ready to move on we'll try some new stuff."
Collin sat there taking it all in, but he was still a bit reluctant to go out there by himself. Still sensing the boy's unwillingness to go out there alone behind the wheel, Ken said he'd go out there and watch from the lawn. He explained that way he could see what might be the problem overall that Collin might be having. The boy agreed to those terms and the two of them went back out to the front drive. Collin started up the car and began his practice driving. Every once in a while the teen would look over to see if Mr. Ken was still there and then he continued to practice everything all over again.
After a time, Collin got so preoccupied with what he was doing; he didn't notice his teacher was no longer there. At first, he thought he'd better stop, but then he figured he had driven the vehicle without anyone next to him for almost two hours and he hadn't messed up at all. So, with new found confidence, Collin kept on driving and practicing his parking. He even began practicing backing up through the slalom course further and further and before he knew it he was able to do all ten poles. He was truly proud of his accomplishments and sat there just basking in what he was able to do by himself.
Then a car came through the main Cove gate and he saw it was 'mom' Mary's and Ryan was with her. When Ryan saw all the traffic cones and flag poles and then noticed who was behind the wheel of the other car, he had his mom drive over to his best friend. As soon as she stopped, Ryan got out and ran to Collin and showed him his new driver's permit. The two teens hugged one another as 'mom' came over to them to talk to Collin about his driving lesson. Mr. Ken had been in his Study and could watch Collin from there and when he saw Mary drive up he headed out to talk to her and Ryan.
"So, Collin, you've been practicing?" asked Ryan.
"Yep, after breakfast, Bro and I set these courses up for me to practice on. He said anyone can make the car go forward but backing up took skill and practice. So, that's what I've been doing all day. So, what about you? You got your permit today, huh," said Collin.
"Yeah, mom asked me this morning at breakfast if I felt I was ready to take the test and get my permit so that's what we did. Dang, I think every kid in our class was there today that's why I'm just getting here; it took us that long."
Mary and Ken had been listening to the boys talk and smiled to themselves as the two boys talked about their day. Then, Ryan looked over at his mom and asked if he could try practicing what Collin had been doing. Mary didn't know what to say. Sure she knew Mr. Ken and he even treated her son like he was his 'little brother' but still they were at someone else’s home and the practice area was set up for Collin.
"I'm not too sure, Ryan. The course is set up for Collin and …"
"Come on, Mom. Collin was out here all by himself as we drove up. If he can do it, I know I can. Bro, what do you say?" asked the anxious teenager.
"Well, Ryan, I was in the car with Collin for two hours this morning as he drove the car and practiced parking and going forward and backward through the slalom. Have you ever been behind the wheel? If you haven't, then I'm sorry. I'll have to say no," answered Mr. Ken and it was apparent that was not what Ryan wanted to hear.
"But Big Bro, you can …"
But before he got much further in his argument his mom spoke up and said,
"Ryan, you are not going to bother this man into teaching you to drive; at least not at first. He's already spent a lot of time out here today, teaching Collin and it would not be fair to him to take him away from all the things he needs to do. You'll just have to wait! Do you hear me, Young Man?"
Ryan heard the tone in her voice and knew he'd better not argue with her about that. So he went over to his mom and hugged her and said, "Yes, Mom, I hear you. Ah, maybe then you can bring me over here tomorrow and help me practice. What do you say to that, Mom?"
Mary looked up at Ken and he then looked over at Ryan and then Collin spoke up and said, "I'll show him." As soon as the adults heard that, they both said in unison, "NO!"
The four of them all laughed at that and then Ken pulled Ryan to him and tussled his hair some and said his mom was welcomed to use the course now or tomorrow to show him how she, and he emphasized the word 'she', wanted him to learn how to drive. Hearing that satisfied her in that Ryan could use the courses, as well as Collin had been doing, until he was ready to take the final driving test.
It was now about three in the afternoon so Mary reluctantly told her son she would give him his first driving lesson using the three courses Ken and Collin had set up. When Ryan heard that, you would have thought he had won the lottery or something he was so happy. S o, for the next hour or so, Ryan and his mom drove all around the front drive and the traffic cones and flags.
Then, Mary tried to teach Ryan how to back into a parking space. No matter what she told him, he just couldn't get the hang of looking over his shoulder and turning the wheel in the right direction to get the car into the parking spot. After a half hour of that, Mary was about to pull her hair out when Ken came over to the car and asked if he could try. She readily agreed only so she could get out of the car.
For the next fifteen minutes, Mr. Ken had Ryan just backing up looking over his shoulder and turning the wheel and recognizing what the rear end was doing. Then, Ken took Ryan to the parallel parking slot and on the second try Ryan was able to get the car between the flag poles. Ryan, then tried backing into the parking box from different angles and he was able to get it in in no time.
When they finished that task, they both got out of the car and Mary came over to them and gave Mr. Ken a big hug for doing what she thought was the impossible. After a short discussion of the how's and why's of Ryan's driving, the four of them then decided to go out for dinner. Collin volunteered to drive and got the biggest sarcastic look from his guardian he had ever seen. Collin then, reluctantly, gave the car keys to his Big Bro.
Comments appreciated at Chowhnd@gmail.com