He's totally freaking me out.
The first time I let Ben drive, we went out to a fairly unpopulated place (hard to find on Oahu, let me tell you). There's a long hill that I had him drive up and down, up and down for an hour so that he could get the hang of how firmly to push the pedals and how to turn around. Fortunately for him, I just learned to drive a stick shift and now I remember how hard it can be to take on this new skill, and just how much practice is required before he can be released onto roads where other people may actually be in our field of vision.
About fifteen minutes after we arrived, a white truck passed by us, then stopped at the bottom of the hill and stayed there. After thirty-minutes of watching us, the driver drove up toward us and headed toward us as if he was going to T-bone us. I calmly told Ben to just stop and the other driver swerved and came up beside us.
"Are you learning how to drive?" the man asked us.
"Yes," I replied politely. "This is his first day ever."
"Oh, I was watching, and I wasn't sure if you were some sort of environmentalist or something," he said and left us there.
We would be pretty crappy environmentalists if we were driving up and down spewing exhaust and wasting gas for an hour, but whatever.
Now, Ben has graduated to driving around our neighborhood in circles. There are lots of stop signs, and the speed limit varies between 10 mph and 25 mph so it's a fairly safe journey. The finer points of not pulling out across two lanes and not driving up over the curb are being slowly mastered.
Ben feels that he is a good driver because he spent lots of time playing "Mario Kart" on the Wii when we first got it. He learned to drive up and down the escalator in a mall and jump the decorative fountain all while throwing bombs at the other cars in the race. He feels supremely confident.
I'm not so sure.
Ben was yammering at me about how wonderful his life is when we turned onto a very narrow street with cars parked down both sides.
"Ben, I think you should stop and let me get us through here," I told him.
"Relax mom, I can do this. It's like a giant video game. If I crash I've still got two lives left, right?"
I don't know how many times I sharply said, "BEN!" as we eased between the cars with less than a foot of space between us and the cars on either side. That is one narrow street.
As we cleared the last car Ben said, "See? We made it! Not as fast as I wanted to, but still. What was I saying before you interrupted me?"
When we got home, I immediately fixed myself some food to make my knees stop shaking.
Ben bounded into the kitchen, "Driving makes me hungry too!"
Then he updated his status on his Facebook - "More driving today. My mom's white knuckles, heavy breathing, and random screams were beginning to unnerve me, but then I remembered....I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING! We are alive and no cars were harmed. I wish I could say the same about that stupid biker who swerved in front of me. Imagud driver!!!