So, the anxious wait is over. Your 17 year old son saunters down the garden path, cheeks rosy with excitement, a self-satisfied grin on his face. Yes, he has just passed his driving test. No more grey hairs for you, no more white knuckle rides with your foot crushing the imaginary brake pedal. Or so you thought.
“I’ll take you for a drive in my car now Mum!” he declares. He’s referring to the little kit car that he has lovingly spent the last 6 months renovating and titivating. “It’s OK,” he adds, “I’ve put 5 litres of fuel in it.” Ah. Welcome back to the world of student poverty. And even more grey hairs.
There’s less room to squirm about in the compact car. There’s also no “Jesus handle” to grab in moments of sheer terror, as your loving son has thoughtfully taken the roof off for your first ride. Perhaps he is expecting a lot of fright-induced flatulence.
When you sit down in the little convertible, your knee hits your chin as you wrestle your legs into a comfortable position. Resisting the temptation to hug your knees to your chest while rocking back and forth like a total loon, you settle down and fasten the seatbelt securely. Without thinking you pull the belt tighter, then have to loosen it slightly to enable yourself to breathe: it’s not advisable to pass out through lack of oxygen before you’ve even set off. Son no 1 looks across at you, his eyes bright. He hasn’t stopped smiling all day.
Then he turns the key in the ignition. The engine starts to splutter and cough. Just as you think it’s refusing to join the party, the motor roars into life with a giant belch. Son no 1 glances across at you again. You share a wide-eyed look of excitement and apprehension as a blizzard of butterflies swirl in your stomach. You try to loosen your grip on the seatbelt, but your fingers are glued tightly in place.
Then you’re off. Not so much a white knuckle ride as a heart-stomping assault on your senses: the smell of burning oil, the boisterous burble of the engine as you thunder down the road with the wind slapping you rudely across the back of your head. You can feel the ears on your bear hat being buffeted about in the breeze. What a total blast.
You feel 20 years younger as you remember the last time you rode in an open-top car: memories of your brand new Handsome Hubby staggering to plonk you on the car seat as the netting on your wedding dress threatened to engulf him. Ah, those were the days. When he could lift you in the air without giving himself a hernia.
Talking of Handsome Hubby, it was his turn next for a ride in the kit car. On their return, son no 1 filled me in on his latest journey. “That was great!” he said cheerfully, before mumbling something that sounded like “We went 83”
“You went 83 miles per hour??” I asked, shocked.
“No Mum,” he replied. “We went on the A3..” As I breathed a sigh of relief, he added quietly, “We actually went 85” before plodding off into his bedroom.
I can feel more grey hairs sprouting by the second.