Bought, built and rebuilt again, these boards remained in a constant state of maintenance or repair. Not all at once, granted, but never was the fleet at perfect capacity. Maybe that’s why so many were needed.
Now I’m teaching him how to drive. That’s not accurate. Jake already knows how to drive. He has been driving since he was 12 years old. Dirt roads. Side streets. Parking lots. Leaving the firing range, it’s far easier to have me hop out, unlock the gate, have him drive through, then latch it all back together behind him. “Do not wreck this car.” Easy enough instructions that he would follow past the gate and with me as a passenger down the road until we reached pavement.
It’s another thing I’ve seen along the way. No one trusts children. And they know it. When you trust them with something significant, they know it, too. That’s a pretty easy win if you’re trying, but it’s also pretty easy to miss if you’re not careful.
I’ve always watched for opportunities to show this kid I trusted him. Driving home in my old blue pickup one evening I say to this boy of about eight, “Go ahead—you take the wheel and steer.” After a moment’s hesitation he reaches over and does just that—giddy with delight that he’s actually controlling this vehicle as it rolls down the street. We repeated this a couple times more, negotiating more dramatic curves each time, until we neared our street. In our driveway, as I shift into first gear and apply the parking break, he looks me dead in the eyes and states, “I’m telling Mom.” Be careful whom you trust.
It became evident in those early moments that Jake would be someone that loved to drive. And if you love to drive you want more than to just log hours in a car. You want to be actively driving that car. Which is why, when his mother and I promised to buy him a car, he had only one request: “Can it please be a manual?” While I tried to sort out how I became the type of father that would buy his son a car for his birthday, he and his mom went into full-on car shopping mode, eventually finding a used Scion tC with a manual transmission that we brought home the day before he turned sixteen.
Teaching a young man how to drive a stick is even better than teaching him how to ride a dirt bike. The stress of the “what if I stall” moment looming over his head with growing apprehension. We did what we always do—found a parking lot, switched seats and went through the steps.
No stalling. No lurching. There would be plenty of that later, but for this first time, it all goes smoothly. And, once again, he’s learned that he can do it.
And for the last time, we illegally drive the back streets home. Tomorrow he’ll have his learner’s permit. One more piece of our story that can never happen again.
Attentions turn to modifications. Rims, shifter knobs, headlamp bulbs—perfectly good working pieces replaced with new, slightly different, perfectly good working pieces. Naturally, the sound system is unacceptable and the trunk needs to be retrofitted with 15” subwoofers. And because I’ve somehow managed the small miracle of having a teenaged son that still likes me, I get to help him build the speaker cabinet.
He’ll design it. He’ll primarily build it, with some direction and an extra set of hands when needed from me. And in the end he’ll know he can do that, too. Me? I’ll get to watch him work. And I’ll get to watch him continue to become this amazing man. But, I think I’ll also keep an eye on his brakes.