Heather Sanders

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April 2013



How to take your Driver’s Road Test twice.

Written by , Posted in Curriculum, Homeschooling, Reality, Uncategorized

If at first you don't succeed...

Emelie passed her driver’s test yesterday. Of course, that isn’t the whole story, but it was the celebrated result, and I wanted to get that little “Hooray” out there as the lead-in.

The fact is that, after 32 hours of bookwork, 7 hours of in-car observation, 27 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel driving, 10 of which were at night, and enough anxiety to sink the Queen Mary, Emelie failed her first driver’s test taken two weeks ago. And she didn’t just fail it, but rather, she truly bombed it within 45 seconds of the instructor climbing in the car with her.

It went something like this: After completing all the requirements for our state’s Parent Taught Driver’s Education course, Jeff and Emelie went to the DPS and scheduled her driver’s test. On the day of the test, after waiting in line for nearly an hour, Emelie was instructed to go outside and pull the truck up for the initial inspection of the front and back blinkers and tail lights. After the inspection, a rather dour woman plopped down in the passenger’s seat next to Emelie and asked if she had any questions before they began.

Emelie, trying to be polite, apologized for not initially asking the instructor’s name. The instructor, probably thinking Emelie was being a suck-up, quickly cut her off, saying, “It doesn’t matter what my name is, I’m your driving instructor.”

As you can imagine, that did nothing to assuage Emelie’s nerves. Not wanting to make things worse for herself, Emelie waited quietly until the instructor asked her to parallel park.

This is where I stop and explain that, in the DPS parking lot, there are two parallel parking areas. Emelie drove up to the one she and Jeff used during practice, and was informed that was a motorcycle parking area, not the parallel parking spot. Now, intimidated by the instructor, and understanding she had practiced in the wrong area, she was beyond apprehensive and totally hopped-up on nervous adrenaline.

And that is when she backed ever-so-carefully, but completely and totally, into the pole marking the back of the parallel parking area, immediately failing her first driver’s test.

Emelie stopped and turned to look at the instructor just as she circled a whopping “F” on the evaluation sheet. After telling Emelie she failed, the instructor told her to park and come back inside the DPS to reschedule her driver’s test.

Jeff did not text me the news, and when he and Emelie arrived home she tearfully walked to her room, secluding herself the rest of the evening. As the embarrassment wore off, I reminded her that poles were for dancing, not hitting. She agreed.

Fast forward two weeks later and she and Jeff were back at the DPS office. Emelie had more hours under her belt, with much of that spent practicing parallel parking IN THE RIGHT AREA.

Emelie was assigned to a different instructor. The instructor was friendly, but to the point, and reminded Emelie of her best friend’s mother, immediately setting her at ease. Plus, the woman recognized Emelie, and talked to her about her hair, and how it changes every time she sees her.

I was at home with Meredith and Kenny working on school, waiting for Jeff’s promised text updates.

Jeff's texts from the DPS office.

I spared you the nervous parental chatter between the two of us, but my favorite text from Jeff was: “I don’t know where they went from the parallel parking, but she’s gone longer than 45 seconds! Yea!”


We’re a homeschooling family, which means taking responsibility for our children’s education is a foregone conclusion. That said, we really had no idea how terrifying it would be to place ourselves in the passenger seat of a vehicle with our 16 year old in full control.

Unlike cars specifically outfitted for driver’s education, we did not have the advantage of passenger-side pedals or any other dual controls. We were at Emelie’s mercy, which meant we had to trust her fully to apply what she learned from the course textbook and discussions with her daddy and me, listen attentively to the experienced driver in the passenger seat, and respond swiftly when needed.

And she did.

And now she’s gallivanting around town with her sister.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Heather Sanders


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