Summer came with a driver’s license the year I turned sixteen. Thrilling, full of freedom. I hit the road. Unfortunately, I’d never paid attention to directions.

We didn’t have Google. or GPS, I had my dad. He charted paths to the moon for NASA. The guy was a human map. It wasn’t without a price, though. Our conversation went:

“Dad, quick directions to Putt-Putt mini-golf?”

“Yes. Well.” (clears throat)

“It’s a right off Brook Forest Drive, I think?”

“First, you’ll want to get in the car.”


“Adjust your mirrors and seat position. Then engage the engine.”

He kept motoring as my thoughts traveled from Duran Duran to Twizzlers to the stain on my choir uniform and finally looping back into his orbit. He hadn’t gone far:

“… back up SLOWLY down the driveway, now moving towards the street, check your sightlines always scanning for pedestrians.”

Instead, I scanned for a noose. I checked my Timex watch. Tapped my K-Swiss sneakers. Yanked my side ponytail waiting for the Brook Forest Drive part.

Meanwhile, I turned Dad’s volume up and down in my brain, courtesy of The GoGo’s.

“As you head into the street [We got the…] always monitoring the [beat, we got the…] and don’t forget a quick head check [beat, we got the beat…] blind spot. [Yeah! We got the beat.]

Of course, there’s only so much a young girl can take.

“At this point, switch the gear safely into drive letting the brake pedal assist you with—

“DAD. I know how to drive.”

“Yes. Well. (clears throat) It’s just that I’d like you—

“Home by 10:30?”


Here’s to all the dads out there fighting for our lives through boring us into submission. Thanks, Dad. Oh, and you’ll be glad to know wearing a safety belt is the law now.

You’re welcome.


Cate Berry is a children’s book author and mother of two based in Austin, TX.

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