Teaching a practical skill.

In the not-too-distant future my 16-year-old daughter, Anna, will begin taking a second semester of classes at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
College courses at 16?
While smart, my daughter is not one of those prodigy kids that you periodically hear of who earn a doctorate before they can legally drive. Anna is participating in a program that allows high school-aged youngsters to take classes whose credits can be applied to both their secondary and collegiate transcripts.
The program wouldn’t mean anything if Anna couldn’t handle the academics. Fortunately, during Anna’s first semester she did well in the classroom (ask her for grade details) despite taking some challenging courses.
And while my wife, Nancy, and I are thankful our daughter is taking advantage of this educational opportunity, Anna’s learning does not end on the HLGU campus.
Nancy has made it a point to teach Anna a number of skills - cooking, sewing and how to do a load of laundry, etc. - that will prove beneficial when she eventually ventures out into the real world.
Is it the most practical bit of information to know? Those who say “no” either still live at home where mama performs these services, have a spouse willing to provide home-cooked meals and clean clothes to wear, or eats out regularly and visits the cleaners weekly.
While most of these skills have been taught to Anna by her farsighted mother, on occasion I play the role of instructor. Such was the case following the Dec. 20 winter storm that left a coat of ice on streets and highways of Northeast Missouri.
Obviously the most important lesson someone can be taught on how best to handle a situation like that is: Stay indoors until the streets are cleared. Of course, that’s not an option for everyone. Consequently, people need to learn how to drive on surfaces best suited for ice skating or hockey.
Last year after Anna gained her driving permit, hardly a flake of snow fell, meaning there was a gap in her behind-the-wheel training. And while my daughter has driven in rain, the difference between a wet street and one covered in ice is enormous.
The day after the recent storm, Anna and I ventured out. Because of the Street Department’s efforts, plus the sun’s reappearance, most primary and secondary streets were already snow/ice free. But I wasn’t about to start Anna out on a public street.
Anna and I would up on the open, yet still ice-covered parking lot next to Clemens Field. I started off by making some loops on the frozen surface, showing my daughter what to do and what not to do when a vehicle starts scooting. We then switched seats.
Anna did really well, hardly spinning a wheel. In fact, about the only time the car slid with Anna driving was when I had her do something like apply the brakes full force, to give her experience at handling a skid.
As Anna made loop after loop I noticed a vehicle departing from the Cavemen offices. It was John Civitate, the team’s general manager. I climbed out of the car to explain why we were puttering around the parking lot.
John didn’t mind us using the lot for training. In fact, he thought getting my young driver some ice time was a good idea. John shared that he had just gotten a text from his daughter, a recent MU grad who is now living in Kansas City.
According to John, his daughter was thanking him for having taught her how to drive on ice since it was obvious to her that a number of city folks hadn’t learned that important and practical skill.
Maybe some day I’ll receive such a call from Anna.