“Get out! I HATE YOU! I will never hate anyone more than I hate you right now!”
Maybe giving Jessica a driving lesson hadn’t been such a good idea…
“Dad, what are your reference points?” my daughter asked as I reversed into the drive.
“What are you talking about? I just reverse in.”
“But what do you look at?”
“I don’t know. I do it without thinking. Do you want to try it?” My daughter beamed at me. Blimey, she almost hugged me. Almost…
“Just let me have a cup of tea. We’ll do some reversing and then I’ll give you a driving lesson.”
“Are you mad?” my wife said, thirty seconds later.
“I took Tom. There’s no reason why I can’t take Jessica.”
“Apart from the fact that you’ll kill each other within the first hundred yards.”
“Your problem, Jane, is that you’ve got no faith – in either your husband or your daughter.”
And so saying the magnetic L-plates (isn’t that the most obvious invention in the history of the world?) were whacked on the back of the car and off we went.
“There’s no need to put the handbrake on coming out of the drive, darling.”
“I always put the handbrake on if I stop.” Keep quiet is my motto for today. So I do.
We make our way through town. The handbrake comes on at every opportunity. We still haven’t made it out of third gear – but Jessica hasn’t driven this car very often. She’s doing fine. And I’m doing fine as well. That is, I’m keeping quiet.
Up a hill towards some traffic lights. They’re red. Handbrake on. Hill start. Off we go…
“Damn it.” We’ve stalled.
“No problem. Everyone does it. Have another go.”
Stalled again. Someone behind hoots impatiently.
From this point on, gentle and easily-shocked reader, the word ‘bubbles’ has been used to replace certain other words in our conversation.
“Try again, sweetheart, but we’re blocking the road.”
“Well it’s not my fault the bubbles stupid car keeps stalling.” Ah… I spot the problem.
“You’re trying to start in third gear.” I put the car into first gear. A mistake.
“Stop touching the bubbles gear stick. Don’t do that!”
The lights turn green again. Lewis Hamilton lets in the clutch and hurtles up the road.
Then disaster strikes. A right turn is required. A slightly uphill right turn. “You’re doing it again. You’re trying to set off in third gear.”
“Well it’s not my bubbles fault.”
“Well – ” Stall. “Whose – ” Stall. “Fault is it?”
“It’s your bubbles fault. You’ve shattered my confidence. I simply can’t drive with you bubbles yelling at me.”
We finally negotiate the right turn. Then my daughter turns left and goes over a grass verge. “Oh for Heaven’s sake, Jessica.”
“I told you! I told you! You’re bubbles well yelling at me again!”
And then the inevitable happens. My daughter stamps on the brake pedal. Gets out of the car. Slams the door. And storms off.
Hell’s teeth, we are three miles from home. It’s freezing. Starting to snow. Jessica is wearing a jumper. Flat shoes. I do a swift three point turn. Narrowly avoid a bus. Slow down dangerously. Shout across the road. “Jessica. This is madness. Get back in the car.”
“No. I HATE YOU! Just go away.” Fortunately the rest of the ‘conversation’ is drowned out by the traffic.
My wife comes to Jessica’s rescue. Back at home blame is allocated. It’s Dad’s fault – one hundred per cent. The only way to restore the relationship is to apologise profusely and offer large slabs of chocolate.
And so I knock tentatively on my daughter’s bedroom door…
This post was published on February 10th. My beloved daughter took her test on February 18th. Drum roll… she passed. Not sure whether to be delighted or terrified…
I’m delighted to say that ‘Best Dad’ has been shortlisted in three categories for the BritMums ‘Brilliance in Blogging’ Awards – Fresh Voice, Funny and (gulp) Outstanding. Thank you very much to everyone who nominated me – and if you’d like to vote for ‘Best Dad’ to get through to the final six, here’s the link. And thanks again.