The day my first born turned 16, his father took him to the Department of Transport…. and he returned home with a Learner’s Permit.

I’m not sure if anything could have prepared me for that day, or what was to follow, as in that split second parental-worry instantly grew to become parental-worry-on-steroids.

Never kid yourself that having a learner-driver beside you, at the wheel of your car, is anything less than stressful. It’s all that and then some more.

I’ll sheepishly admit this, the year of learner-driving, has unearthed vocabulary I was unaware I even knew and… if it’s possible to develop learner-driver-induced-Tourette’s… fine, let’s just name it that.

Here… why don’t you come along for the drive and share some of the joys I’ve had as mum to an L-Plater…

  • Learner driver + anxious mum + blaring radio do not make for a relaxing trip to any destination. Especially when said radio is tuned to teen’s preferred station and not mine. Attempts to decrease volume is best done ninja-like, to avoid teen response of turning it up.
  • “Hands on wheel” where hands is plural. Both hands belong on the steering wheel, even if it looks cooler to drive with only one. Maybe your teen will need constant reminding of this too. I’ve taken to lightly slapping offending limp hand until it’s returned to position on the wheel. Current high score is 7 hand slaps from shops to home, but who’s counting?
  • There should be a CD recording of the following phrases, just to save you from going hoarse: “slow down”, “slower”, “that was a give way sign”, “did you see that car indicating?” and ultimately “just pull over”.
  • He’s learnt the hard way; backing out of a driveway is a task requiring concentration and skill. The need to check mirrors while reversing should never be over-rated and car bumpers and street signs never mix well. With friends standing in their drive watching and waving good bye as he reversed straight back into the street sign opposite, it’s likely he’ll be super cautious next time. He has no idea I returned the following day and snapped a pic of the damaged pole…. some may call this bribery, I consider it collateral. The car still needs repair.

Of course, now it’s entirely clear why my own parents chose to outsource to a driving school. Back in the day though things were simpler and there were no logbooks to fudge or mandated hours to be suffered.

The end of our L-Plate year is nearing as he’s now just clicked over to age 17. Thankfully, we’re both still standing. But at a cost. Not only has my vocabulary sunk to an all-time low, my nerves are frazzled and my hair most certainly greyer! And I’m yet to find a parent of an L-Plate driver who describes it differently.

From here, once the final few hours of supervised driving make the magic tally of 100, he’s good to go for his provisional open license and will fly drive free.

Will I then worry less? Undoubtedly, no, I’m sure I’ll worry even more and the greying of hair will accelerate. However, what an important rite of passage this process is and how fabulous to witness his wings spreading. Now if only there was a roll of bubble wrap big enough….

How do you think you’ll cope with the learning to drive stage… or have you survived it already?



Shari Brewer is a mum of three – two teens and a preschooler – living in Queensland. She’s a practicing high school teacher and lifecoach passionate about helping parents of teens. You can find her on the internet ... blogging and supporting parents at Teenage Survival Coach and hanging out on Facebook.

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