“I’m not sure how to help you,” I croak from beneath a blanket of heavy cold.
Next to me in the car, my daughter’s face cracks and she begins to cry.
I pull out another tissue and try to excavate the accumulation in my nostrils without much success.
“I just don’t get it. I know what’s going wrong but I can’t seem to find the way to fix it,” she says, red-faced and tearful.
“Would it help you if I showed you how I do it?” I say.
“I guess,” she says, without conviction.
We change places.
“The thing about reverse bay parking is that you find your own system,” I tell her, peering over my shoulder rather than using the mirrors.
I put the car into reverse and pull smoothly back so the car sits across two different parking bays.
At least this makes her smile.
I pull forward and reverse back in between the lines talking her through my process which is only occurring to me as I do it.
“It’s pretty unconscious,” I tell her.
“That’s pretty unhelpful,” she replies.
“OK so just try one where you don’t think about what you’re doing and see what happens,” I suggest.
She does and parks perfectly between the lines.
“Let go a bit. Trust yourself.”
Driving home with her we chat about how easy it is to get in your own way when you try to take control of things that are better left to themselves.
She pulls up in a perfect parallel park outside the house.
The anxiety she’s feeling about her forthcoming test is stopping her sleeping.
“It’s not that I need to pass, I just don’t want to have to think about it anymore,” she says, pushing food around her plate.
Later, I’m thinking about how best to help her relinquish unnecessary control while I’m walking the dogs in the fields.
It’s been raining and the puppy keeps running enthusiastically to huge cow pats and eating them with gusto.
“Stop it, leave that alone,” I shout while ushering her away.
She darts between my legs, through the hollowed oak tree straight to another pile, and takes a huge mouthful while I run towards her waving my arms like a lunatic.
A few days before her test is due my daughter gets a throat infection and is confined to her bed.
Never mind passing, attending is now decidedly touch and go.
“I’ve been trying to reschedule and there’s nothing available until next year,” she tells me.
“Well, try not to worry too much. There’s nothing you can do about it,” I say, irritating myself with my hopeless platitudes.
On the morning of her test, she is lying in bed with a headache so bad it requires a bag of frozen peas to soothe it.
“If I feel better later I’m going to go, just to get some experience. It might make me less anxious next time,” she says
Her eyes are obscured by a “Birds Eye” logo.
“If you feel up to it.”
To my surprise, she gets up and she goes, looking white as a sheet.
I take the dogs for a walk to save me sitting at home worrying about something over which I have no control.
In the field, my mind otherwise engaged, I let the puppy run towards as many cow pats as she wants to and find that she is wholly uninterested in them and instead trots along happily with the older dog who has grown out of eating other animals waste and now confines herself to rolling in it.
Pulling up at home afterwards my daughter comes down the path to meet us with a big smile, holding out her pass certificate.
We have a big hug while the puppy picks up a rotten apple from the gutter.