Our little corner of the world is currently experiencing snow. Although this happens most years it always seems to catch us unprepared leading to impassable roads, school closures and panic buying of essential food supplies. At my children’s school a recently arrived pupil from Russia would not believe that the school could not open because of what looked to her to be a mere sprinkling of the white stuff. She asked that a member of staff telephone her parents if she was really expected to stay at home.
Whilst I like to look out on the pretty scene that is created by a few inches of snow I am not a fan of going out to play in it. Rather than face the cold I prefer to enjoy a self imposed retreat at home by a warm fire. If I have to go out I will be well wrapped up with hat, gloves, scarf and sturdy footwear. I will travel on foot as I flatly refuse to drive on roads covered with snow and ice. We live in a rural village so the local roads remain untreated whatever the weather. I will not take the risk (as I see it) of losing control of my car whilst driving. A car is a lethal weapon in careless or incompetent hands.
It is alleged that over 90% of all car drivers consider themselves to have above average abilities behind the wheel. If that is the case then I am one of the 10%. I refuse to drive in snowy conditions but I also try to avoid using my car generally. I can cite many reasons for this – to save money on fuel, to exercise in the fresh air, to make my little contribution to keeping the local air cleaner and to ensure that my children grow up understanding that it is possible to get from A to B under their own steam. I dislike driving on busy roads, along unknown routes or through narrow lanes. Most of the driving that I am required to do demands that I deal with at least one of these situations. And then there is the parking. I will walk a long way rather than try to manoeuvre my car into what looks to me to be a tiny space – particularly if there is a potential audience in the vicinity. Why I think that they would be interested I do not know.
My dislike of driving stems from a lack of confidence. I avoid driving when at all possible and can go for many days, sometimes weeks, without getting my car out of the garage. Thus I do not practice and my confidence is never built. Many years ago I regularly worked away from home and would spend many hours driving on motorways and through unknown cities without a thought. It is only since I have become a mother that driving has become an issue. I agreed to give up my car when I left full time, paid employment and, although this situation only lasted until the birth of my second child, I have never really returned to regular, frequent driving.
I am, of course, required to provide the child taxi service that is demanded of most modern parents. At times it feels as though my husband and children are the harshest critics of my abilities behind the wheel but, over the years, I have given them plenty of reasons to develop this attitude. I have the ability to take a wrong turn between home and a destination that I have been to many times before. I can get lost on a journey home despite having just driven that exact route to get to wherever I was going. When I do have to make a significant journey I prepare as though for a military campaign – maps are Googled, streets viewed, route lists printed out and key phone numbers noted – I am less likely to get lost driving half way across the country than to the other side of town but I still manage it.
In a years time my eldest child will be old enough to start learning to drive. I wonder if I will worry even more about letting her drive, and the potential dangers that I will envisage her encountering, than I do about driving myself.