Life in the pedestrian lane: You can’t Google it!

  • By Virginia Walters
  • Saturday, January 10, 2015 4:57pm
  • LifeCommunity

Granddaughter No. 7 is getting her driver’s license next month. She took a driver’s class and passed with flying colors so she’s on the way!

Today’s kids don’t want to drive like we did. She is a few months past the minimum age for the license and she didn’t even get her permit until a year past the time she was eligible. When I was a kid, and my own kids, too (her father especially) a driver’s license was the first big milestone to be conquered. Of course, we had grown up driving: sitting on dad’s lap to drive on the dirt road to Grandma’s, jumping in the pickup to take it to the house from the barn yard, herding the wheel tractor around the hay field to pick up bales; from the time we could reach the pedals, we had motorized wheels of some kind. Different time, different place. The culture has changed and now, for whatever reason, driving isn’t as important as it was as a signal that one is responsible enough to be trusted with wheels.

Her taking lessons to drive got me thinking about how we learn things. She took lessons because, frankly, she’s stubborn, and no one in the family wanted to undertake teaching her to drive from a cold beginning. The only motorized thing she had ever herded across the yard was a four-wheeler … and while not a catastrophe, it came close. The driving instructor knew just how to make her comfortable, and she reacted like she was in school learning to add and subtract, so they got on well. And she has good driver instincts. Experience will only add to her skill.

Some things are learned by osmosis, like our generation learned to drive. We grew up with a steering wheel and gear shift right there at all times. No TV, no iPod, no cell phone to distract us from a serious intent to know how to drive. And cooking. We women of a certain age, and our children, were inundated with “cooking” every day. Mom was home and the troops needed to be fed. If one were lucky enough to be the offspring of a really good cook, it came effortlessly: “Hey, Sis, put a pot of water on for noodles”; “Please measure me out a cup of milk”; before long, after a painless apprenticeship cooking was so instilled in our psyches it became second nature: 11 a.m.? Time to start lunch; Thanksgiving? Dinner here!

But some things we need to really work to learn. Try as I might, I couldn’t pick up how to knit just by watching. And my mother-in-law, who knitted beautifully, tried to teach me with little success. I finally bought a book and sat down by myself, and with what she had shown me, taught myself to knit (digression … as I was typing I mistyped “knit” as “knot.” Call it a Freudian slip, because that was how my first attempts at wielding those needles seemed to progress). I am not a talented knitter. I can follow directions and turn out slippers and mittens and doll clothes, but I’ll never do it effortlessly while watching TV like some of my friends do.

The difference between skill and talent also determines how we learn something. A skill can be learned, and one may develop it to expert level (or not), but a talent is there from the beginning, and only needs to be nurtured to become instinctual. Music is an example. I’m sure we all had at least one friend who sat down at the piano and banged out a perfect Boogie Woogie while we struggled to find middle C. (Need I mention I don’t play the piano either.) Or the other friend who took piano lessons faithfully, practicing for that hour a day, and can play “Yellow Bird” skillfully, but not with feeling. Skill is to be admired, but talent, if nurtured, should be cherished.

I spent twenty-plus years acutely aware of learning styles and sometimes the lack of such. Some kids came ready to sit with a book and absorb all they read, others were all over the place needing to act out each lesson in some way (did YOU count on your fingers?). Some needed to talk it through (heaven help us all) but they all eventually got the picture and could then act on the knowledge in their own individual way.

Granddaughter No. 7 learned to drive with ease, so I’d venture to say she’s probably got her dad’s natural bent to have wheels. I think of how much easier it would have been for her and the family if the time and place were such that classes had not been necessary. However, in the same breath, and harking back to the classrooms I’ve known, I’m glad it did not fall to me to teach her to drive.

Virginia Walters lives in Kenai. Email her at vewalters@gci.net.

More in Life

Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in 20th Century Studios’ “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)
On the Screen: New ‘Planet of the Apes’ expands, brings new ideas to franchise universe

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” tells a story that feels more rooted in fantasy than the post-apocalypse vibe of its predecessors

A mural depicting imagery and iconography of Kenai brightens the entryway of the Walmart in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Visible art raises people’s spirits’

Local artist’s mural introduced as part of Walmart renovations

Former North Kenai resident George Coe Dudley, seen here during the winter of 1950-51, was a hard-drinking man. His messy funeral in 1967 in Kenai echoed his lifestyle. (Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger)
This parting was not sweet sorrow — Part 1

“Dudley was an easy-going, laid-back sort of guy, always laughing and joking, as well as hard drinking.”

The Ladies of the Pacific lead a hula demonstration as part of Aloha Vibes at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex on Saturday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Diamond Dance’s ‘Aloha Vibes’ brings together music, movement and celebration

The project’s all-company showcase was only one of several attractions filling the space as part of the group’s annual event

English muffins are surprisingly easy to make and so much better fresh. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Special breakfast for a special day

Eggs Benedict are made even more delicious with homemade English muffins

Happy Valley homesteader Wayne Jones looks through the telescope built by Rex Hanks, circa 1950. (Photo from “The Pioneers of Happy Valley, 1944-1964,” by Ella Mae McGann)
A Kind and Sensitive Man: The Rex Hanks Story — Part 4

Rex Hanks had a reputation as a forthright, hard-working, inventive and sensitive man

Will Morrow (courtesy)
It’s not always better to give

I was trying to come up with my own words of wisdom to share with my son

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A copy of “Drawn from Deep Waters: True Stories from the Kenai Peninsula,” is held on Thursday in Kenai.
Off the Shelf: Congregation calling

The collection is written by patrons of Kalifonsky Christian Center

Trees burned in the 2019 Swan Lake Fire are pictured on the Sterling Highway, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Showing compassion beyond crisis mode

Crisis mode, while terrifying, brings out a collective care for one another that is beautiful to witness in the moment

Most Read