It violates our deed restrictions, but we really did have good reason to place two trash barrels down by the curb on a recent Sunday afternoon.
After months of procrastination, it was time to teach the 17-year old how to parallel park. The barrels, placed about a car length apart, served as stand-ins for those bright orange safety cones they have at the DMV. Or as dad suggested, as he directed our daughter in and out of the imaginary parking space, a couple of high-end Mercedes Benzes.
You might think that the art of parallel parking would be on the Florida driving test.
Even so, the good dad, who just weeks ago proved his prowess in landing a coveted meter spot outside Fenway Park in Boston, has determined that parallel parking is something his kids should learn.
His trade is the auto body business, so he knows well how much a fender bender can cost.
I've watched the trash barrel scenario once before, from a safe spot on the driveway. That was when I videotaped the learning process with our oldest, about 8 years ago. Nothing like adding a little pressure.
But actually teaching the kids how to park is one of those duties that comes under the "dad" column, along with getting out splinters and teaching them how to ride a two-wheeler and how to in-line skate.
He's good at all those things.
I can't skate on wheels, and I have no desire to run alongside my helmeted, knee padded kid, holding onto a fender while assuring them they really will be okay on their own.
Truth be told, I'm not so great at the letting go part.
And I have very limited skill when it comes to parallel parking. Suffice it to say, I'd have opted to pay the extra bucks to park in a lot near Fenway or drove around till I found two empty spaces together so I could just pull right in.
Even so, some years ago I did receive a standing ovation from a handful of elderly gents in a barbershop, who unbeknownst to me, had been getting quite the kick out of watching me try to park my old 1968 mint-green Cadillac convertible.
I think it took me about 100 attempts and what seemed like 20 minutes, but I finally got her in safe and sound.
And the crowd roared.
As for the 17-year-old's parking lesson?
I'm proud to say when all was said and done, she earned some well-deserved kudos. But not before causing about $2,000 in damage to an imaginary Mercedes Benz.
Michele Miller can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or at (727) 869-6251.