Learning to Driveby Gabriella Herkert

by Gabriella Herkert

‘We’re gonna take the car to the store.’

Allie’s not askin’. She never asks. She just tells. It’s okay ‘cuz she has good ideas, but then we get in trouble. I don’t like being in trouble. She says I’m a scaredy cat baby but I’m not. I just don’t like it when Mommy gets mad ‘cuz we’re in trouble.

Maybe we should ask Mommy.’

I use my quiet voice but I think this is a good idea. If we ask, Mommy won’t be mad. Allie is mad. I can tell. She’s standing on the kitchen counter and her face looks funny. Red like an apple with little potato eyes. She’s got Mommy’s keys off the hook and is putting them in the pocket of her overalls. When I get big, I’m gonna wear overalls and red shirts with the turtle’s neck like Allie so I can carry stuff, too.

‘We don’t hafta ask Mommy. I said it’s okay.’

If I say we hafta ask Mommy, she’ll get madder. Allie’s smarter than me and she gets mad when I say stuff back. I know she’s smarter than me ‘cuz all the grown-ups are always saying Allie is a smart ass. I told Mommy Mrs. Staunton said Allie was a smart ass but Mommy said I’m not s’posed to say bad words. I wanna be smart even if it’s a bad word. ‘Cuz if I was smart, I could go to kinnergarten.

Allie wore her overalls to kinnergarten but I couldn’t go. Kinnergarten doesn’t take dummies. Allie said so. I’m a dummy cuz I can’t read. Allie can. She can read real good and sometimes she even shows me the pictures. I’m gonna learn to read so Mommy will know I’m smart and its not a bad word and I can go to kinnergarten and wear overalls.

‘Hold it.’

Allie’s climbing down from the counter onto the chair and I’m holding it real tight. She jingles. I’m afraid Mommy will wake up. I don’t know why Allie jingles. Sometimes she got pennies in her pocket but they don’t make jingles. She says it’s ‘cuz they get stuck and that makes them quiet. She saves Spaghetti-Os. She keeps them for nap time but sometimes she’s too hungry and can’t. I never save any, mostly ‘cuz I don’t have a good pocket for saving. When I get overalls, I’m gonna save Spaghetti-Os too.

Allie jumps down and throws her arms up.

‘Ta-da.’ She can jump just like on tv.

‘C’mon.’ Allie pulls me out of the kitchen. She pets the dog. We hafta pet Orphie before we go or she’ll be sad.

‘Be a good girl, Orphie. We’re goin’ to the store for food.’

Allie is pulling again. At the screen door, she stands on her tiptoes and pushes the switchy thing. Allie can open locked doors. Mommy doesn’t know yet. Allie’s gonna show her soon. The car is where Mommy left it when she came home. Allie lets go of my hand and runs across the grass. She goes around the back and I can’t see her until she stands on the seat in the car. She seems even bigger than Mommy.

‘Get in, dummy.’

I’m gonna ride in front. I don’t getta ‘cuz Allie calls dibs and she is more fingers old. But if Mommy’s not going, I can ride in front. I climb in. Allie’s standing on the seat so I stand, too. I can see real good.

‘How do you drive?’ I ask.

‘I know.’

‘Mommy always sits down when she drives.’

‘I’m driving my way.’ She looks at me and her face is mad and red again.


Allie puts the key in the key place and pushes down the stick thing with both hands. We are not driving.

‘Just a minute.’

Mommy says this a lot so I know I have to wait. Allie’s right. Mommy works when we sleep so she’s tired when we’re up. Mommy will like it if we cook dinner so she can sleep for a long time.

‘When are we going?’

‘Shut up, dummy.’

Standing is better than sitting down. I can see lots. Mommy doesn’t let me stand. When Mommy drives, the car goes places. We are not going places.

‘Get out and see if the wheels are goin’.’

”kay.’ I get onto my knees and push the door open. I climb to the ground and get down like when I crab walk. I look under the car. The wheels are not going.


‘I forgot the feet things. You’ve got to come in and drive the feet things.’

I climb back into the car and crawl to where the feet things are. I can’t see anything from here. Standing was better. I look at them. Mommy calls them pedals but they don’t look like flowers.

‘How do I drive them?’


I push the first one but it won’t go and we still aren’t driving.

‘Push the go one.’

I reach across and push the other one but nothing happens and we still aren’t going.

‘Push.’ She yells. She reaches down and punches my arm before falling against the big stick on the wheel. Suddenly, we are driving. I can’t see where, but I feel us driving.

I crawl onto the seat and stand up so I can see all the places we’re going. We’re drivin’ real slow. Now we’re drivin’ into Mr. Watson’s garbage cans. They make lots of noise. We stop right next to the big tree with the swing that Mommy says we hafta have a grown-up to swing on.

And that’s when I learned to drive.

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