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Baby You Can Drive My . . . Lawnmower

I don’t think it’s ever come up on the blog but Hannah, at age 18 (okay, almost 19 now) does not have her driver’s license. She got her permit when she turned 16 and she drove a little bit but that was as far as she went with the process. Dale and I both rode with her back then and neither of us felt she was particularly ready for driving just yet. She was quite nervous and very tentative. She seldom asked us to take her driving and we decided not to encourage it for fear of pushing her into something she wasn’t yet ready to do. Also, we didn’t mind not spending all that money on driver’s ed.

Fast forward 2 years. Her permit is about to expire and she has been asking and pushing us to take her driving. She seems determined to have her license before she goes back to college and I think that’s a smart thing. She still won’t have a car of her own to take to school but at least she’ll have some options and she’ll definitely have more freedom to go places when she’s home without relying on rides from friends and family members.

Dale took her out driving last weekend and he said, while she’s still a bit tentative, that she is vastly improved. She’s not as nervous and the maturity she has gained these past 2 years is showing when she’s behind the wheel. The biggest problem right now is that our schedules don’t coincide very much. Hannah is working full time at a school for kids with special needs.Ā  Dale and I both work full time, as well, and our weekends are busy. Dale has the band and Hannah has her friends and coordinating time for driving is proving to be a challenge. Turns out, though, Dale had a solution.

He put her on his lawn mower.

He claims it’s good practice and is just like driving a car.

I’m sure the fact that he’s getting her to do his work at the same time has absolutely nothing to do with it.

This Post Has 27 Comments

  1. That just rocks! My kids could drive tractors long before car age and Dale is right – saves him some time in the yard and gives her great practice. Tell her congratulations on another rite of passage.

  2. Very clear of Dale! Actually I also agree. My youngest daughter worked at the horse farm across the street from us and learned how to drive a small tractor. She took to driving very easily and actually learned to drive a standard shift as well. I was 18 when I got my license back in the day as well. Never missed it much in high school.

  3. Dan finally took (and passed) his driver’s test Saturday at 20. It took him awhile partly because he was lazy, partly because he couldn’t drive for 6 months after the seizure and partly because he’s been hesitant. I think those who come to it late take it a bit more seriously and I didn’t mind a few years of not having to pay that extra insurance. šŸ˜‰ Once he set his mind to it, he gained confidence very quickly. If you’re schedules don’t meet, we found the local driving school will do classes even for kids out of high school- we did that for parallel parking since it’s not a skill one learns growing up in Louisiana and though I can do it in a pinch, I certainly can’t teach it! Good luck Hannah!

  4. Dale is right! I was driving a big tractor on our farm (manual transmission) long before I drove a car – driving a car was easy after that! However, my dad had the work idea first and foremost not the driving practice. šŸ™‚

  5. All things in their own time! It will be so much easier for Hannah — now that she’s ready for the driving thing. Best of luck to all of you with what can be a very nerve-wracking process!

  6. Push her to get it done. I didn’t learn as a teenager and now I’m 41 and too scared to learn. And it definitely limits my freedom. I am always encouraging hesitant parents to let their kids do it. I wish I had a tractor to drive now.

  7. Yay Hannah! Smart man, that Dale. Get the lawn mowed *and* help Hannah w/ her driving skills šŸ™‚ And can I tell you that she’s probably the cutest little landscaper I’ve ever seen???

  8. Very smart of Dale! And good luck to Hannah!

    It really is hard with schedules, isn’t it? Emma has a car that someone gave her but the AC doesn’t work right now and we can’t stand to be in it. So we have to wait until Steve is home because my car is a manual shift and she can’t drive it yet. That does limit things…

  9. I’m not sure I agree that it’s anything like driving a car, BUT I definitely agree it’s a confidence-builder in the area of controlling a Big Thing With A Motor On Wheels, and for increasing a certain kind of strength, and that’s a good thing. Plus, the lawn gets mowed. And that’s a very very good thing. šŸ˜€

  10. Actually, I think that is a fantastic idea. While I am not a tentative driver, my father (who drove school buses and construction trucks for extra money and college work) reminded us that being too slow to make a decision can be just as dangerous as not assessing it before diving in. Good luck to you all, sounds like she’s at a good point for this next step.

  11. Dan learned to drive at age 30, after much frustration on my end. He is still not a great driver (easily distracted), so I still do most of it, but I don’t resent him for it like I used to. (he says now, he should have learned a LONG time ago)

    We drove motorcross, ATVs and snowmobiles before we ever drove cars and by the time we were 16, we had been moving cars in the driveway and my dad’s work trucks, so we were ready!

    Good Luck, Hannah… there is nothing like a little independence!

  12. Dale is a very clever bear. Eldest is about to get his license, but I suspect Her Ladyship will be on Hannah’s timetable.

  13. I’ve got a reluctant student driver right now, and I think waiting was a good idea. I’ll be it will all be smooth as silk now.

  14. That is a nifty solution! I too have one in college without a license for the exact same reasons that you stated. I think that she might push her grandparents for one while she’s visiting them, which is fine for the exact same reasons you mentioned… I just wish that I had a big enough yard and a riding mower for her to practice on!

  15. We needed our then nearly 17 year old to drive. My guy drove with her often, usually at his insistence (he had the time as well!). She got her license, probably sooner than her skill suggested, and we prayed a lot when she’d head out to school. We still drive her on snowy/icy days, but MAN, we’ve loved her autonomy. AND she’s able to do the grocery shopping. YOU go Hannah! You look smashing in the “driving” hat!! šŸ™‚

  16. As it turns out, I also didn’t have a license until after my 18th birthday. I didn’t own a car (or have one at my disposal very often), until I was 22. She’ll appreciate having freedom to drive because she’s more mature. Driving is a privilege not a right. By the time she goes back to school she’ll have more confidence. Go Hannah!!

  17. The worry that you feel when your new driver is out with the family car is sort of counterbalanced by the relief that you don’t have to drive them everywhere any more.

  18. Great idea.

    But my real question is why that lawnmower isn’t all tricked out.

    I loved my aunt’s lawnmower – they put big “teeth” on the front of it to make it look like a monster.

    Flames would also be great.


  19. That’s so funny. If we had a riding mower then I’m sure Bruce would this on Lindsey. As it is, the AC in the car she’ll learn on needs service so until we get that taken care of I’m off the hook with driving practice. I think that’s a good thing.

  20. Dale is brilliant! My boy hasn’t really expressed a huge interest in driving yet. He takes driver’s ed next year and that may change, but for now, I’m happy he doesn’t want to drive! More maturity, the better.

  21. My eldest waited too until the very last minute on her permit. She was less of a wreck by the time she did her road test.

  22. My DD got her driver’s license at 16. She was tired of me driving her around and being ‘too much’ a part of her teen life, I think. A couple summers before that she was driving our riding lawn mower around in hopes that it would help her make car-driving easier. She did tell me that it helped some.
    My 22 year old son is a different story. He’s back retaking his behind the wheel lessons (we’ve renewed his permit at least twice) and I’ve set a goal to drive with him at least 30 minutes-every-day. You won’t (or maybe you will ) believe how hard that is. It’s not the most relaxing driving, is it?

  23. I love it! šŸ˜€

    I agree with Dale. I think that’s a great way for her to get used to gauging distance, planning turns and such ahead of time and working on doing one thing at a time since so many of us have trouble with that these days.

  24. There are a few hidden gems here that make this post extra special for the person reading this blog who has likely known you the longest…

    #1 Hannah is wearing a big hat to keep the sun off her face. As you know, that is very significant to me. Smart girl.

    #2 Dale scored!

    #3. Mom was how old when she got her own license?

  25. How cute is that!! I, like Hannah, didn’t get the driving thing either. I didn’t get my license till I was 18 and even at that, my mom wouldn’t let me go drive by myself for a couple of months. I knew enough to pass the test, but a good driver that did not make.

    I didn’t pass those genes onto my daughter however. She has been driving with her grandpa for the last year (she’s not 16 yet) and she just “gets” it. She’s chomping at the bitt for September when she can get her permit.

    And by the way – Happy Anniversary! May you and Dale have many more happy years together!

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