When someone asks how I like our new home, I’m happy to discuss the larger kitchen, cozy family room and inviting deck. I’m always careful never to mention my new arch enemy – the driveway.
It’s a long driveway (at least to this city boy), so long that my son sometimes packs a snack when I order him down to the bottom to fetch the morning paper. And it wouldn’t be a problem except for one thing: my ability to drive a car in reverse is, shall we say, not world class.
There’s a carport at the top of the driveway. When we moved in, I calculated the reverse driving distance from it to the street and quickly began inventing reasons not to use it. Indeed, so many large, empty boxes inadvertently began piling up under the carport that it started to resemble a recycling station. At that point, my wife stepped in with an announcement. We would clean out the carport and we would then use the carport to port our cars like every other respectable family in the neighborhood.
I mounted a defense more feeble than Lance Armstrong’s – something about preferring to park just halfway up the driveway so I could use the stately front door. My wife noted that using the carport prevents the cars from frosting over and also eliminates the possibility of one of us accidentally backing into another car parked in the middle of a single driveway. She graciously did not point out that I have, in fact, done that before.
And so for the past month I’ve been attempting to drive my car backward down the driveway , and it’s been every bit the disaster I’d anticipated. I’ve swiped my neighbor’s bushes, run over a portion of our front lawn and scraped something I’m hoping was not my neighbor’s mailbox.
And the best part is these moments of drama occur first thing in the morning with my kids in the backseat on the way to school. I’m attempting to embrace this flaw in my manliness by looking for the positives in these misadventures, and I’ve come up with three:
- It’s good to start the day with humility: When I walk out the back door with the kids, I’m looking professional in my black coat, dress clothes and work bag and feeling in command. By the time we’ve careened to the bottom of the driveway, I can see myself for what I really am – a man in command of very little. And you really can’t be reminded of that too often in life.
- I’m making life easier for my kids: Some kids grow up in awe of their parents, convinced that they’ll never live up to their amazing example. My kids turn completely around as soon as I hit the gas, take a deep breath and begin coaching me down the driveway. My son advises on how to avoid the basketball pole, while my daughter keeps me from running into the brick walkway. I’m positive this is good for their self-esteem.
- I’m enjoying simple pleasures: Every ninth day or so, I’ll back the car up (almost) flawlessly and the kids will say, “That was really good, Daddy! One of your best ever!” And there is a kind of sheer satisfaction to it, like getting the beef grilled exactly right or writing a sentence that really works. And that, too, is a good way to start the day.
Tags: Lance Armstrong