Thursday, 16 February 2012

And this is why I'm learning to drive:

Until about 6 weeks ago I had never driven a car.  I was too busy to learn when I was 17 while all my friends started their driving lessons. (Not too busy with A-levels you understand. No, I was far too busy combining kissing unsuitable men in rock bars, working in the local pub, not eating enough and all the associated counsellors and psychologists that I had to see as a result and sitting in my room listening to John Peel, feeling misunderstood. That I passed my A-levels at all is a complete miracle).  After that, I didn't have enough money to take driving lessons.  Then I lived in town so I didn't need to.  Anyway - I didn't really mind not driving.  I like walking and it keeps me on the right side of curvy, and I am really good at public transport - catching connecting buses and hurling myself through the closing doors of a train that's about to pull out like Indiana Jones.

2.5 years ago, something happened to change my feelings towards learning to drive though.  Allow me to explain.

Person With Car Goes On Journey To Unspecified Location With Toddler:

1. Place toddler in car seat.

2. Get in car.

3. Drive to destination.

4. Be at destination.

5. Come home.

Person Without Car (Me) Goes On Journey To Unspecified Location With Toddler:

1. Two hours before needing to leave the house, start planning route with military precision.

2. Think I've got it sorted, then realise I have no change for the bus so I'm going to have to walk the 20 minutes into town to change some money before I can go anywhere else.  Swear a bit.

3. Re-plan route to take account of walking into town.

4. Get dressed.  Have crisis.  Last remaining pair of jeans have developed an indecent hole overnight, so can't wear jeans and trainers.

5. Have NO other clothes that are compatible with trainers.  Will have to wear a dress.

6. And tights because it's cold.  Last remaining pair of tights have a hole in the toe.  Ignore, ignore, put them on anyway.

7. Oh crap, have just remembered that the only pair of boots I own have high heels.  No flat shoes remain apart from trainers due to poverty.  So much walking to do today.  Feet are going to be in agony after 15 minutes.  Never mind.

8. Explain to Rory what the plan is for the day. Rory wants to leave immediately. He does not understand the concept of "in half an hour". What's more, he wants to wear only one sock and a Spiderman t-shirt and take his scooter.

9. Ponder the wisdom of taking the scooter.

10. Come to the conclusion that this would be foolhardy.

11. Oh.  He's going to want to walk isn't he? Do I let him walk and add an extra half an hour to the plan and spend all day trying to keep him out of path of steamrollers and the like or take the pushchair and risk decapitating self when trying to load it onto the bus. (flashback to horrific memory of pensioner maiming last time I attempted this).

12. Ah, feck it, we'll take the pushchair.

13. Attempt to get Rory dressed and ready. By now he's decided that he doesn't want to leave the house at all and instead will run laps of the ground floor of the house whilst sticking pieces of toast and jam to the walls.

14. Capture and dress him.

15. Haul pushchair out of the cupboard under the stairs whilst trying to avoid injury.  Kick it a bit and call it a bastard.

16. Meanwhile, Rory is gleefully unpacking the neatly packed bag in the corner.

17. Re-pack bag, strap Rory in pushchair.

18. Rory decides he needs a "just in case wee".  Unstrap him from pushchair and sit him on the potty.

19. Strap him back into the pushchair.  He wants to take a toy car with him.  Fine.  "Which toy car would you like to take, Rory?"

20. Oh, the one that you just threw into the urine filled potty. Of course.

21. Rinse off toy car and ineffectively dab with a disinfectant wipe.

22. Leave the house, frantically re-calculating route in my head as we are now too late to catch the first bus.

23. Five minutes down the road it starts to rain.  Jesus.  Put rain cover on pushchair which makes Rory shout at me as if he is being abused.  Have no hood on the coat I'm wearing so put umbrella up.  Lurch down the road like slightly lame hunchback due to having to steer pushchair with one hand and one elbow while the other holds the umbrella.  Rory kicks a hole in the rain cover then complains that he is getting wet.

24. Change money and arrive at bus stop just in time for bus.  Only the driver won't let me on because there's someone else with a pushchair already on it so no room for ours.

25. Smile politely at driver and say "not to worry" safe in the knowledge that I will track that stupid bastard cockwomble down and defecate on his doorstep. Or BURN him.  Can't decide which.

26. Re-calculate route in head again.

27. 20 minute wait for the next bus in the sort of rain that prompted Noah to build an ark.

28. Next bus arrives.  There is space for us, so I un-strap Rory and threaten him with a fate worse than death if he dares to run off while I fold up the pushchair, trapping my finger and knocking over a bin in the process.

29. Struggle onto bus with demon pushchair and similarly afflicted child.  Sit down.

30. Spend entire journey a) trying to stop Rory from repeatedly pushing the 'stop' button and b) shooting apologetic glances to every passenger that he insults. ("Oh look mummy, that man is extremely fat.", "Oh, two men getting on bus. one's a lady.  That lady looks like a man.").  Bus gets stuck in traffic several times.

31. Get off bus taking spring loaded weapon of mass destruction (the pushchair) with me.  Rory refuses to get back into it but we have another 20 minute walk until we get to where we're going.  End up pushing empty pushchair and trying to control spring loaded weapon of mass destruction (Rory) at the same time.

32. Big toe being forced through hole in tights with every painful step. Agony.

33. Feet really really hurting now. Stupid heels.  Maybe could have worn flip-flops.  Stupid tights.

34. Still raining.  Wind picking up now.

35. Abandon umbrella, which keeps blowing inside out and resign self to getting soaked.

36. Arrive at destination looking like a bedraggled tramp. Rory very wet also and whinging.  I can see passers by looking at me like I'm an unfit mother.  Pushchair sodden.  Left the house over two hours ago. Entire journey would have taken 15 minutes door to door in a car.

37. At destination, steaming gently as we warm up.

38. Leave destination.

39. Repeat the entire process again in reverse.

40. Gin.

And that is why I am learning to drive.


  1. Good on yer, Lise. It is the most liberating moment in your life, when you pass your test.
    Until the sprogs leave for Uni. Can't trump that one.XXX Ma Harris.

  2. I feel exactly the same! I HATE it when the bus driver won't let you on too, as if standing in the cold waiting for it to inevitably be late isn't hard enough with a toddler in tow anyway - but to then have to wait for the next one! When I go out I must admit to staying much longer than I need to in the hope that my OH can pick us up on the way back from work!

  3. I drive a car but it doesn't make the procedure of getting my 5-year-old ready any easier. My younger son (2) is ready in seconds and he even puts on his shoes himself and waits patiently by the door while I, soaked in my own sweat, perform a sort of mad chase combined with wrestling or try to bring some life to a pertified body of his older brother. But yes, once they're strapped to their seats I feel relief!

  4. When you drive I predict with Rory there will still be a few extra steps added. you will be checking you have change for the car park whilst he destroys the place.

    I think I shall invent a special buggy brolly that means you can use your brolly hands free.

  5. Tadaaaaaa! ok so someone got there before me.

  6. I've heard not such good things about those brollys.. the answer is one of those plastic see through hoods that grannys wear.. I mean, we're mums now, what do we care if we look stupid as long as we're dry?

    I've been through all of that Lise, and I do have a car.. Don't have access to it every day though. And often I just prefer to walk, despite the hassle.. I'm not the keenest driver!

    The problem I have these days is Ethan's bike. He wants to ride it, which is great, but if we're going into town, I can't always assume he will have enough energy to ride it there and back, which means taking the buggy.. and then trying to push the buggy whilst carrying a bike if he decides he's had enough... fun times! x

  7. I used to say "it's ok mummy, I walk." and then get tired and demand to be carried all the way home, whilst trying to bite the mole off my mum's neck because I was convinced it was chocolate.

    25 years later, I am still paying back my non-driving mum in lifts for all the knackering walks that I made harder as a child.

  8. Yay pleased for you! It really will completely chang your life. As sad as this may sound, my life got so, SO much better when I could drive!


  9. Ha, yes. If it all helps, you are teaching him a valuable life skill about public transport. I was catching the bus after work t'other week, and there were incedibly-middle-class-not-used-a-bus-in-fifteen-years family ahead of me having an absolute nervous breakdown about the whole process and wiping everything with a disinfectant wipe. Cath x

  10. Hi, I recognise this well. I am a non driving (yet) mummy of 2 working full time and living in a village with a poor bus service. I am really hoping that at some point we can afford lessons. I feel your pain! good luck with your lessons and happy driving.

  11. Yip, the car helps, unless of course you have to get on slip roads, or motorways, or gargantuan Circles of Hell roundabouts, and then there's parking. Good luck!

    Can I please please please steal the word cockwomble and use it all the time in my blog and in real life. Please? x

  12. This is eactly why I am earning to frive and eactly why it has been the best thing ever . The idea of a bus with my two monsters bring me out in a cold sweat !

  13. My friends used to go away at the weekend, the 2 of them could fit into a Peugeot 309 quite easily with camping gear too. Once their son came along they also felt the needs to take an entire estate car too!