When he turned 17 at the end of June, my son told me he was going to pass his driving test first time – and he was going to do it within three months of his birthday. You’ve got to love the eternal optimism of the young.
I’m not an optimist. On a good day I’m a realist, at times I’m a pessimist.
I told him he should aim to pass his test by Christmas and that it didn’t matter if he passed first time. Most people don’t pass first time, after all.
In recent weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time practising with him. At times, it felt like a hassle, but I told myself it was going to help him to pass his driving test and I shouldn’t be too busy or too tired for it. And my son is a very good driver. He is so much better than I was when I took my test (to be honest, I was pretty bad).
My son was going to pass first time. I just knew it.
For once, I was the only optimist. Nobody else dared say it out loud.
At the end of his final lesson before his test, his instructor said he could be ‘cautiously optimistic’, which is apparently as certain as a driving instructor will dare to be.
My son seemed very calm when he left the house for his test. But, according to his instructor, he’d never seen anyone so nervous before his test.
Kids spend a lot of time analysing driving tests. Apparently failure rates at our test centre are pretty high and there is a 66% first time failure rate. They also know which are the ‘hard’ test routes and the ‘strict’ examiners.
He had the hardest test route and a very nice examiner. But when he told his friends who the examiner was, they were all shocked, because he was one of the strict ones! It was school run time and he had to deal with a lot of traffic and a lot of parked cars. He did the parallel park, which is the hardest of the manoeuvres.
He felt sure that he’d failed.
(We’d told him he mustn’t be thinking about whether he’d passed or failed during his test, as that would be likely to affect his driving.)
His instructor tells us his face was a picture when he heard the words ‘You’ve passed’. He just couldn’t believe it. He passed with 10 minor faults. You can get 15 minor faults and still pass. The examiner even said it was one of the hardest tests he’d done for a while – with the particular route, the school run traffic and the reverse parking.
But I wasn’t at all surprised when my son rang me to tell me he’d passed. I just knew he was a good driver and he would do it.
He’s one of the youngest in his friendship group, but the first to pass his driving test. He only knows two other people who have passed first time. And he almost managed to achieve his aim of passing in just three months.
Having successfully run his first half marathon three days before, it had been a very good week for my son.
The good week was rounded off at his new job, when he ran into the woman who interviewed him. She took time to tell how well he’d come across at interview and how, as soon as he’d left the room, she’d said to the other person that that they definitely had to have him. Very few young people had made it through the interview that day.
What an amazing week for an amazing boy.