No More 'L Plates'
"Dad can you take me for my driving test?"
"Can we drive around for a couple of hours so that I can practice?"
My 17 year old son was getting ready to take his driving test for the 3rd time just 3 days before his 18th birthday. He wanted to pass, he wanted his freedom and I wanted to stop having to pay for his lessons!
His mother and I had separated, nicely may I add but, I had moved 100 miles away to beautiful Warwickshire and therefore couldn't take him out to practice his driving whenever he wanted too. But, I had been out with him a few times and he had seemed absolutely fine as a driver, I couldn't understand why he had failed on his previous two attempts.
"What time is your test at ?"
"Ten to Three Dad"
"Cool, I'll pick you up at twelve and we'll drive for an hour or so, have some lunch and then do some more before you go and pass your test"
"Yeah ok, but, I don't think I'm going to pass"
"Yes you will !"
I couldn't understand why he would have the 'I'm going to fail' mentality .He's an A* pupil, he's off to read Physics at Nottingham this year. Now and as a child he's always been confident, amicable and been able to apply himself to any challenge put in front of him. Why is he struggling with this? If I find out why I'll only have a short time to try and turn it around but hey, I'll give it ago.
THE BIG DAY
I arrived early, had a cup of coffee and was then told that we had to go and get some things for the car: a secondary mirror and some L plates.
"Right mate, grab the keys and lets go"
It was interesting watching him drive, it was perfect. I've been in the passenger seat with many much more experienced drivers who have made me feel more like a plane crash survivor rather than getting a lift to the station. Almost immediately I felt at ease with him behind the wheel...... Why didn't he think he was going to pass?....... I'll find out over lunch.
"Mate, your driving is perfect, you'll pass this easily if you drive like that"
"I'm really nervous Dad, what if I fail again?"
There it was the two things 'Nerves' about the test and 'Nerves' about what happens 'IF' he fails again. Right I thought, I've got just over an hour to address both these things.
"OK, I'll help you with both those things in a minute, would you like me to give you some feedback on your driving first? because that's easy."
" It's excellent, brilliant...... I just spotted a few minor things if you want to hear them"
"Go on then"
" Always indicate going in and out of a roundabout, whenever you change lane or move across always indicate, just think that you are always letting the people behind know exactly what you're doing. Lastly if you're stopped on a slope use the handbrake"
" Is that all?"
" Yes and you only forgot a few times in the last hour of driving, so don't sweat it, your driving is brilliant"
So he had the technical side of driving completely in hand, now to deal with them mental side of taking a test.
The first bit was to lose the pressure of failure or looking at the worst outcome. I like to call it losing the 'What Ifs'
"Dad, what if I fail again?"
"I don't know, I only think that you're going to pass"
"But,what if I fail?"
"What if you pass?"
"If I don't?"
"Exactly ! what if ? What do you think happens?"
"I don't know"
"Nothing , exactly nothing. You go home and rebook your next test, that is all that happens. But, you are going to PASS"
"Hmmmmmmmm, if you say so"
Now please keep in mind that I don't have a lot of time here, we've still got to practice a bit more and my lunch time panini is getting cold.
"Why are you nervous?"
"I just am"
"Cheers mate, that cleared that up for me."
"It's just because its a test"
"Right well, why don't you look at it as a chance to show how good you are rather than a test to find out what you don't know?"
"What do you mean?"
"Instead of being nervous about what you'll be tested on, be excited to show what you know enjoy showing the examiner"
"Excited...... enjoy ?"
"Yes , be excited and enjoy it"
"And gorgeous, don't forget gorgeous!"
"Can we go now? I want to do some more driving before my exciting test!"
I watched him drive off with the examiner and stood around twiddling my thumbs for an hour... ok I scrolled through Facebook.... waiting anxiously for his return. When he got back they spent an eternity talking, I just wanted to know what had happened.
The smile on my son's face told me all that I needed to know even before he showed me his pass certificate.
"How did it go?"
"Brilliant , I really enjoyed it"
"You enjoyed it?"
"Shut up Dad"
"Had you thought about what would happen IF you passed?"
"Please shut up.........errrr can you pay for my insurance on mum's car?"