This week was filled with a couple of firsts for us. The first first was that my friend Dove bought herself a new car and we took her old one off her hands. This is our first car as a family and it’s a pretty big deal for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it means Rasa gets to drive again.
Now, Rasa loves cars. She can look at a hubcap and tell you what car it’s from. I’m pretty sure that Mona Lisa Vito (played in an Academy Award-winning turn by Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny) is her spirit guide (see below for what I mean).
The problem has been that without a car of our own, she’s been afraid to get behind the wheel. Sure, when we need a car to go some place it’s easy enough to take a CityBee, but I end up doing the driving. Rasa gets nervous since it’s been so long since she’s been behind the wheel and driving someone else’s car that she’s not familiar with is just a double helping of “nope.”
But we picked up the car this week and yesterday, Rasa decided she was ready to try it out. But she didn’t want to go alone. And she certainly didn’t feel ready to drive herself out to a place where she could practice so it was also decided we would go together. Which left us with another problem: Namely, what to do with Monki.
Rasa was in no way confident enough in her driving abilities to practice with a baby in the car, but we couldn’t leave her home alone (here’s where the “pet as child” analogy falls apart – people get so upset when you put a child in a cage and leave them alone for a few hours). So the next big first of the weekend was leaving Monki with a sitter for a couple of hours.
That was interesting. This is the first time we’ve spent any time alone since she was born (and the timing is nice as we have a date planned for next weekend) and the first time she’s been away from both of us at the same time. At first, she didn’t want to let us both go. Mommy put on her outside clothes but when I did it, Monki looked at me and said “no scarf, daddy!” and took my hand to lead me back to the living room. Eventually, we got her to understand we were both going and she was going to stay with “Teta” (aunty) Laima, who is one of Rasa’s best friends.
So with Monki squared away, Rasa and I climbed into the car and headed out. Our first stop was an empty parking lot where Rasa climbed behind the wheel for the time in over two years, and in a manual to boot. She did great, getting the feel of the car and driving around in circles, but the problem with a small parking lot is there’s not a lot of room on the straightaway. She was doing fine, but, like the Nash Rambler, was never able to get it out of second gear. We figured we needed a bit more space. Of course, neither of know a nice quiet neighborhood to drive around so we headed out (with me back behind the wheel) towards the airport until we found a side street which lead off into the woods. We turned in and traded places.
Now, Rasa was off and driving! She was able to get it up to 4th gear and deal with curves and other cars. Along our path was a huge cemetery, which led to the line that tops this post (she had panicked a little when a car was heading the other direction and the road was quite narrow). After a few runs back and forth on this stretch of asphalt, we again traded places and headed back home.
Once there, Monki was just fine. She’d had a great time playing with Teta Laima so that was all good. But even better was the look on Rasa’s face. She was so excited to be behind the wheel she couldn’t contain her outright joy! And honestly, for me, that was the most exciting part of the whole endeavor! The thrill of seeing someone you love really and truly happy is a tonic for just about any type of ill.
She felt so good that when we woke up this morning she suggested going shopping, all of us, and she would drive. So we did. Even though it’s been fewer than 24 hours, her confidence and ability are increasing.
Pretty soon, I won’t have to drive at all.