With time and practice - and lots of love - there is no road or driver's test unpassable

TIDINGS FILE PHOTO  - Kaleigh Henderson Ever since I was a kid, I couldn't wait to drive.

The plan was that on the morning of my 15th birthday, I would wake my dad up at 6 a.m. and make him drive me to the DMV so I could get my learner's permit.

I was so excited to drive. I would be able to take myself places, not have to take the stupid, loud bus to school every day, and go out with my friends without having my daddy drive me back and forth everywhere like a baby.

My 15th birthday came and went — no permit. By the time I felt I was ready for the permit test, it was winter. My dad told me to wait until the snow melted. By the time the snow melted, school had started again. I started to feel like the driving gods had a serious problem with me being behind the wheel.

Long story short, I didn't even get my permit until that summer, seven months after I turned 15. During that time, all of my friends were turning 16 and getting licenses and I hadn't even been behind the wheel once.

My 16th birthday came and went. I had gone "driving" for two hours total. And by "driving," I mean that my dad drove me to the parking lot of our local park, where I drove around and around in circles for two hours.

Let's just say that I had left turns down, and I had absolutely no idea how to do anything else.

Dad decided to sign me up for Driver's Ed. This meant more practice because there was a requirement of 10 hours of driving experience before the first lesson. I had barely done two and the class started in three weeks.

Every single day I had off of school, my dad took me down to the Clackamas Community College campus in his Nissan Altima.

Now, this car is dad's prized possession. This hunk of metal with wheels — in my father's eyes — is his beautiful, shiny, hybrid baby. And he hands his inexperienced teenage daughter the keys without complaint.

He does not scream when his teenage daughter drives his hybrid baby over a curb; he doesn't flinch when his daughter drives over speed bumps at 20 mph. He merely places his hand on hers and guides it until she learns to do it on her own, giving pointers on how to see what she had missed before.

Slowly but surely, she learns. She learns to make sharp right turns without going over the curb; she learns to park in a narrow space and drive in a narrow lane; she learns to do things she was petrified of doing not five minutes before.

There are fights and there are tears, and there are words that were spoken before thinking. But he forgives and she learns.

By the time Driver's Ed starts, dad and I had gone through 10 hours of driving as well as 10 hours of father-daughter bonding.

He and I connected over something more than being related to one another; something as tangible as the steering wheel and as exhilarating as going 30 mph in a parking lot.

This was a lesson we both needed to learn — teacher and student alike — and it was that together that we could accomplish anything. With time and practice — and lots of love — there is no road or driver's test unpassable.

I love you, Dad.

So … Dad … when can we get on the freeway?

Kaleigh Henderson is a sophomore at West Linn High School.

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