Since it aired last season, I have loved watching the NBC show Parenthood. The cast is fantastic, full of faces from series of yesteryear (Sports Night, Gilmore Girls, Coach, FNL, American Dreams) and its depiction of marriage and family is so accurate, it should be considered reality television. Watching Parenthood with Mr. W is so fun; something will happen between one of the couples, and we'll just look at each other and start laughing hysertically because so often a similar scene has played out between us.
This week's episode where Kristina begins teaching her daughter how to drive is straight out of 1993 for me - the year my mom tried to give me some lessons behind the wheel. And when I say tried, I mean that with every ounce of weight behind the word...
As family stories go, the accounts of PR (my mom) teaching me to drive are some of our favorites to tell....now that some 17 years have passed and emotions have calmed.
Imagine me as a teen: high-waist jeans, a ribbon or big bow to match every outfit, a braided belt, and the crown jewel in my reign as fashion queen....KEDS. Cool can drive itself, no? HAAAAA.
What with worrying about which sunglasses to wear, what radio station to tune and the odds of anyone catching a glimpse of me in control of a moving Camry, I really could not be bothered with PR's Rules of the Road, which included all the basics one might find in a Drivers Ed manual, but also helpful tidbits like: no driving in high-heels, no driving while chewing gum, and do not sing along to songs - concentrate!
Like the mother and daugther in Parenthood, our first attempt as a driving duo ended without the car ever making it on to the road. With every move I'd make (to find a cassette tape for playing) my mother would come undone. Spouting curse words I'd never even heard her say, she'd slip farther and farther down into her seat, pounding her imaginary brake even though we weren't even moving. A good half-hour passed as tempers flaired and tears fell before she surrendered, admitting, "I JUST CANNOT DO THIS!"
We went back in the house where my stepdad was anxious to hear stories from the road. I can still remember the perplexed and humored look on his face when he learned we'd never even left the driveway.
My parents soon enrolled me in professional Drivers Ed (at the time, my high school didn't offer it as a course). I was cruising along with my instructor when a white Camry gassed it, darting out in front of a car so clearly detailed with STUDENT DRIVER stickers, with just enough time to turn across traffic before a traffic light turned from yellow to red.
"You see that," my instructor said. "That's a classic example of what not to do..."
"I know her," I told him.
"That is my mother."
Parenthood airs on Tuesday nights, but I didn't get to watch this week's episode until last night. All week Mom kept asking me, "Have you watched Parenthood yet???"
When I finally did, through laughter and tears, I knew exactly why she couldn't wait for me to see it.