Kids Behind the Wheel

The other day, I was walking with my dog on the gravel/dirt road I live on. It’s a back road that might see a dozen cars in a day. As one such car passed us, I noticed that a kid was at the wheel in dad’s lap. Proud dad, happy kid.

What is it with that? Why, of all the adult things, do parents push their kids into that one? Mis-asked the question. It’s not the parents, it’s the dads. And usually, it’s their sons, not their daughters.

Given that men are worse drivers than women (ask the insurance companies – why do you think young males pay such a high premium?), perhaps it makes sense: boys need all the practice they can get. But surely it would be better to take them to a go-cart track.

Proud dad, happy kid. I get the impression it’s not practice. Is it a rite of passage to manhood? But women can, do, and should drive as well. There’s nothing gender-specific about driving a car. So why would it be a rite of passage to manhood?

Maybe it’s the vroom vroom that confuses men. It’s a surrogate roar. They think they’re intimidating when they make a lot of noise. (Actually they’re just annoying. as hell.) And they want to be intimidating because – ?

Or, also, attendant with a roar, maybe their primitive brain triggers the production of adrenaline, and the adrenaline makes them feel good. Perhaps that explains the appeal of the Indy. And the adolescent males who take the mufflers off their trail bikes.

Or maybe it’s the speed that confuses them, makes them feel like they’re chasing prey (or fleeing predators) and again, their primitive brain produces feel-good adrenaline.

So why doesn’t their modern brain recognize this and veto the primitive response? Noise and speed matter little to homo sapiens living in the 21st century.

Proud dad. Happy kid. Oh aren’t you the grown-up. No, you’re not. You shouldn’t be behind the wheel until you’re sixteen and then you should approach the task with fear and trembling. Driving is not fun. A car is not a toy. One wrong move and you could kill someone.

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