Thursday, February 21, 2008

caution, learner drivers ahead

A superfluity of learner drivers has been creeping around our neighbourhood recently (what's the collective noun for learner drivers? annoyance? crash? amble?)

Twice a day, on our drive to and from school, they're there, bright yellow L-signs displayed fore and aft.

They creep cautiously around the corner in front of us, swing their noses with impeccable timing into the path of our car as they perform death-defying parallel parks, and work up their courage to turn across two lanes of traffic while long queues of impatient parents build up behind.

I coudn't work out the cause of this sudden invasion. The idea that it was God's personal training ground to teach me greater patience seemed more than a little egotistical.

But I was going for a walk the other morning when a car pulled up beside me, and the woman driving asked me the way to the local RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority). Of course! I'd forgotten that an RTA was due to open nearby.

The roads near our school are full of challenges which stump even experienced drivers: peculiar T-junctions where turning cars have right-of-way; a ridiculously busy intersection so dangerous that I (fleetingly) considered writing to the local council to request a set of traffic lights; and a primary school complete with lollypop ladies, 40 km limit signs, and parents competing for parking spots.

Obviously, this is a wonderful place to train drivers, despite (or because of?) the presence of hundreds of kindergarton and school children on the roads twice a day.

But it's particularly hard to be patient with learner drivers when you're running late for school.

As I shake my head and mutter under my breath (and that's in my more self-controlled moments) I keep reminding myself that the kids in the back seat are watching my every move and copying me. That they will be learning to drive one day (terrifying thought!) and I'll be grateful if other drivers are patient with them. That this is a wonderful opportunity to practise that neglected fruit of the Spirit, patience (and this mother of 4 could certainly do with more of that).

I find myself humming Herbert the Snail's song:

Be patient, be patient,
Don't be in such a hurry.
When you get impatient,
You only start to worry.
Remember, remember,
That God is patient to.
So think about the times
that others have to wait for you.

And while I'm still learning patience, perhaps I could learn another important lesson: to leave for school 5 minutes earlier. Which, of course, will require even more patience as I chivvy reluctant children out the door.

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