This summer my boy got his driving learning permit, and driving practice on our steep, narrow, winding roads began.
I'd long been dreading this moment, and when it finally happened, the dread didn't fade: I found being a passenger with a learner at the wheel pretty hard to endure. And yet, someone had to, and clearly, that someone was me (whenever available, Tom did his fair share, taking on highway driving practice). I cannot pretend that I was a good teacher. My teaching consisted mainly of gasping, yelping and clutching the passenger door handle so tightly that it nearly came off in my hand, as the learner took his first steep curves beside high, unprotected cliffs infested (sorry, but that's the right word) with mountain bikers. Fortunately, though, it really is possible to climb the learning curve, and abilities do improve with practice - despite the teacher's occasional heart attacks.
With time, in fact, I found that spending time with my boy one-on-one, teaching him - something I'd virtually not done since he was a toddler, before his brother was born - was something I was looking forward to. I also realized that I'd probably wouldn't do much more of this again. Normally, I'm not inclined to such rhetorical questions as "Where did the time go?!", but this summer, driving in the passenger seat as my big boy learned to drive a car, maybe I clutched the door a few times and sighed thinking just that. And as he grew more and more confident with his road, my mind turned again and again to a poem by Kahlil Gibran posted in the maternity ward where I gave birth to him eighteen years ago, entitled "Bows and Arrows"
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.