Parallel Universe

Anne Kimball

Life on the Funny Farm

Of my six kids, one has his learner's permit, one is preparing to take the permit test in the next week or so, and another will be ready in about a year.

God, in His infinite wisdom, has decided I can handle this.

Or He is just one very funny guy, I'll let you decide.

Anyway, I wrote this on my other blog, but thought I would repost it here. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get fitted for a helmet.



I have been dragged, against my will and better judgement, into the world of teaching a teenager to parallel park. This is not something I would recommend to anyone with less time and patience than say, Mahatma Gandhi.

Besides time and patience, I would also recommend a healthy dose of common sense. A sprinkle more than what the good people behind the desks at the DMV have given me credit for.

For in the very first paragraph in the manual on the subject of parallel parking, they suggest to me that I should:

Start this session off on a quiet street with cars parked along the side until your student is capable of practicing this with cars passing by.

Lest you think your eyes deceived you, as I did mine, you read right. They suggest your student driver starts practicing parallel parking with real cars on a real road.

But because I have the sense that God gave me as well as a healthy love of my life and a working knowledge of the deductible on our insurance policy, I rebelled against the written word. I would recommend to anyone else foolish enough to attempt teaching P.P to their youngster that they follow the following progression:

1) Study the diagrams that can be found in your state's driver's manual, or the many sources on-line, such as this beauty: (

Or this one: (

2)Next move on to practicing with matchbox cars or a few heavily sedated hamsters.

3)From there, cautiously graduate to operating a real-live car, IN YOUR DRIVEWAY parking between real-live sim-cars, aka cones with long things sticking up out of them.

Long things OK to use: Gardening stakes. Brooms.

Long things not OK to use: Floor lamps. Your other children.

4)When your teenager has smashed the bejesus out of the cones you stole from the construction site under cover of night and has wrecked your car beyond recognition, you are ready to schedule the driver's exam.

Because other driving skills matter not in the eyes of the people at DMV. Forget knowledge of street signs or the willingness and abilty to obey the posted speed limit. Don't worry about whether or not the young driver-to-be recognizes that the pedestrian always has right of way. If he can't parallel park, game over.

So get the parallel parking thing down to the point where he can zip into a spot, which, like the Grinch's heart, is two sizes too small. When he can do it blinfolded with his other senses guiding him into place like a Jedi master, he is ready for The Exam.

Let it be noted, however, that under no circumstances, even if your child passes the exam and receives his driver's license tucked inside the Holy Grail, is he to ever attempt to parallel park on real roads with real cars. If God meant for people to parallel park, he wouldn't have invented the pull-in-frontways parking spot. Or those new hands-free parallel parking cars. Or blocks to drive around till you find other options.

Parallel parking. God and all the saints help me. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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