Today’s journey was a literal one, around a small town near Joplin, and an exciting first. Late on this beautiful spring like day, Greg and I picked up Dayan for some driving practice. This 15 year old has his driver’s permit and I had yet to let him drive my car. It was the perfect time to remedy that.
Taking advantage of the fact that school was not in session on a Saturday, we put Dayan behind the wheel in the parking lot of a local high school. I let his papa sit up front with him while I took the backseat so I could take a few pics. I was NOT a back seat driver, allowing Greg to coach his grandson in driving skills while I offered praise and encouragement.
Dayan has not had a lot of experience yet, with driving, and yet he did remarkably well. After just a few minutes of handling my car in the parking lot, testing the touchiness of the brakes and getting a handle on how far to turn the steering wheel, Dayan headed out into the streets surrounding the school.
He did great! His confidence and ability rose immediately. At this time of day, on Saturday, there were not many cars in the area. However, Dayan did well when faced with oncoming traffic and negotiating streets with cars parked along the curbs. We found the perfect route that looped from school parking lot down side streets to another school parking lot. He practiced stopping and starting smoothly, parking within the lines on the parking lot, maneuvering over speed bumps and on the city streets, using his turn signal, moving into the turn lane and stopping at stop signs. I was so proud of him and had fun riding along in the back, snapping pics.
Greg was a patient and encouraging driving instructor, offering just the right blend of instruction and letting Dayan figure things out for himself. They kept up an easy banter in the front, with Dayan asking the occasional question and Greg answering or helping Dayan to arrive at the answer on his own. I marveled as I watched this tall, handsome young man drive. Wasn’t he just a toddler a short time ago? I remembered Greg and I accompanying Dayan and his parents to the zoo when he was a little over a year old. Rather than being fascinated by the various animals, this bright and curious boy looked with wonder at the huge fans cooling the Desert Animals Section and pointed excitedly at the staff golf carts and the zoo train chugging along the track.
That day, as he toddled around, he was interested in machines and gadgets and vehicles. Today he is smoothly operating my car while chatting with his granddad, gracing me from time to time with a smile over his shoulder, when he was safely at a stop. I know it won’t be long at all before he drives off to college in his own car, entering into an adventure of his own, following his own path. I am so honored to have walked beside my grandson, learning from him as much as I have offered to him. We will always be close, Dayan and I, no matter how far away he goes to continue his education, and he has set the precedent for the relationships that I cherish with each of my other grandchildren.
The journey ahead is bright with promise for Dayan. I look forward to seeing where life takes him as he offers his gifts to the world. For this afternoon, it was enough to sit in the backseat and watch him drive, knowing he is expanding his horizons bit by bit, content in knowing he’s not yet ready to say goodbye and drive toward that horizon. With joy, I smiled back at him, each time he grinned happily at me.