Good Dad

I’m a good dad. I know this because I’m not only willing to let my kids do things that might kill them, but I’m letting them do things that might kill me. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of the story here.

Over the winter my dad bought a geezer 4-wheeler to use at the cottage. It’s kind of like a golf cart on Viagra or maybe what a pick-up truck would look like if made by Toro. A functional little ride which allows him to fetch water, the mail, and most importantly, keep up with all the rest of the retired squadron on the road who seem to devote most of their energy thinking up reasons to hop in their little rural roadsters and go somewhere to move something to someplace. He stored it in my garage during the inclement months where he visited it frequently to add little accessories and touches so it was ready for the spring season. We called it “Grandpa’s Toy” for months, and he seemed to take the ribbing in stride. Little did I know he was planning his revenge even then.

You see, my boys asked a few times about how old they had to be to drive it. I simply said they had to be old enough to get Grandpa’s permission. That seemed safe. He’d certainly not risk his baby to an unsafe driver, and it would be a good bonding experience for him to teach his grandsons to drive. But my dad’s a crafty bastard. I have much to learn yet.

We get to the cottage this weekend, and he’s encouraging everyone to take a turn driving. Where’s Grandpa? Safely tucked into the barn having inexplicably super-glued himself to the bench. So guess who gets to take the maiden driving voyage with my boys? Yup… revenge is sweet.

So Son #1 has a go. He’s driven a few other things so I’m not too worried. He does try to start it while it’s running and I cringe as the starter drive grinds on the flywheel. But Grandpa doesn’t flinch. Now convinced that the rumbling he hears is the running engine and not my intestines, Son #1 places both hands firmly on the wheel, stares straight ahead, and punches the accelerator flat to the floor. But I’m calm. I know something he doesn’t. Namely, that we are still in neutral. Besides, it stalls flat. So we discuss “feathering” the pedal.

Second try. He starts it again, hanging onto the starter just a tad too long. I begin to wonder if he is associating the pained look on my face as an indication the motor is running and he can now let go of the key. Okay, both hands firmly on the wheel, staring straight ahead. Blissfully unaware we are in neutral. As the engine revs, he slowly looks at me with incredulity. Over the roar of the engine at full throttle I point at the gear shift. The light dawns, and he reaches down to engage the tranny. Mind you, his foot is still firmly on the floor and the engine wound up tight. My hand quickly grabs his as images flash in my mind of me spending the rest of the weekend trying to put Grandpa’s transmission back together like some sort of psychotic Lego project. So we have another short lesson.

Third try. He’s away. He drives us to the pump for water and back again. Honestly, his driving wasn’t too bad once he got out of the blocks. Better yet, his little brother didn’t say anything about “his turn”. Besides, it was lunchtime.

So during lunch, doesn’t Grandpa ask when Son #2’s turn is? Man, he’s good. I want to be just like him some day when my kids are old enough to torture like this. So, despite my best effort to eat for 3 hours straight, the meal ended.

Son #2 takes a seat at the wheel. Now, remembering my learnings from #1, I pre-started the vehicle and even pointed it down the driveway. He grips the wheel, deftly drops it into gear, and proceeds to demonstrate that he has absolutely no grasp of the relationship between the position of the steering wheel and the direction of the small vehicle. He’s overcorrecting more than Newsweek. But not to fear, the further he goes off the road, the harder he pushes on the gas. This is a future Audi driver if ever there was one. After several frantic grabs by me at the wheel and a few near tip overs, we get back to the barn. He’s grinning. I’m kissing the ground.

I’m a good dad. I can’t wait to grow up and be an evil Grandpa.

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