I’m the kind of person who hesitates outside a kindergarten gate. I look at the kiddy lock and jiggle at a couple of the metal bits and hope it opens. It doesn’t tend to and so I jangle more until something eventually comes loose.
I get this from my mother. We giggle hysterically about these interactions with real life 3D puzzles – no one understands quite like she does how perplexing they are. The rest of my family sure don’t. Dad’s a farmer. He just knows how things work.
The hosing down of the yard and milking shed was a conundrum I never mastered. A certain amount of water was available – when the large concrete trough ran out, that was it. I never got the whole thing clean with the water available, there was always some cowpat area going dry after I was done.
So when it came to getting my driver’s licence I could have guessed it might not be simple. Dad’s approach, from how I remember it, was to just sit in the passenger seat, point to a couple of things like the gear stick and the clutch, and wait for it all to come together.
In retrospect it probably wasn’t a great idea for me to ride the motorbike with my piano playing friend on the back. We toppled over and she broke her wrist. Haymaking was also a jolty situation when I was driving the tractor.
So, back to the driving lessons. Mum took on the job next. I think that was better, but I still failed my first and second driving tests. I vividly recall trying to do a hill start with my thigh jumping around so much with nerves – and no way I could stop it – that a pass was never going to happen. Turning left when asked to go right didn’t help.
I was about ready to give up by then. But Mum and Dad engaged a driving instructor as a last resort, and every Monday night there’d be lights in the driveway and I’d have to go out and drive around Waihi's windy back roads and very first roundabout in the dark.
When I passed, the tester said he’d never known anyone to be so scrupulous at looking behind, not just in the rear vision mirror. And to this day, I am a slow, careful, methodical driver. Somehow the lessons went in, so that I know them now. Must have been all that practice!