It's an automatic. I've never had a car that was my car that didn't have a standard transmission. My mother taught me to drive stick on our family's Honda Civic (sensing a trend yet?) station wagon, which was a tearful and sometimes frustrating process for both of us, but ultimately I mastered the ability to shift. Sure, I went to Driver's Ed as well, but I really learned to drive when I was in that car with my mom. Once you've stalled in the middle of a busy intersection and can't get going again, or in the middle of a large hill--unable to continue, but afraid to roll back--it all comes together fairly quickly. It takes longer for the remembered panic to fade, however. I never quite pushed the envelope the way that she did, whipping around corners in third gear, but I relished the control over my cars that shifting seemed to impart.
I discovered after leaving home that driving a stick was not really a . . . standard skill to have, especially as a woman. Demand for manual transmissions is down, as are the numbers of people who know how to drive them. Most new cars aren't even made with manual transmissions, and fewer than 7% of cars sold are standards. When I was making my car purchase, I actually did make a conscious choice between a manual Honda Fit and an automatic Civic. I went with the automatic for a lot of reasons that continue to make sense. But a certain portion of me--personified while I'm driving by my restless, useless left foot--regrets the choice.
Aside from the opportunity for parental instruction, I regret the fact that I am no longer a part of the club of stick shift drivers, even though my exit was voluntary. I've always loved coming to a stop on a hill and keeping perfect balance between my clutch and gas, standing still without needing a brake. I loved listening to my car and figuring out the perfect time to change gears. When I graduated from college, I got a car from my family. It was a four-speed Honda Civic (surprise!), and I adored it and promptly drove it across the country and back again. Using my car, I taught (or tried to teach) several people to drive a stick. I relish the idea that I can drive pretty much any car that's parked in front of me, once I have the keys in hand. It feels independent. I miss the feeling of control, the nuance, the fact that you are forced to pay attention to the car and not the phone or the drink.
Luckily, I have a plan. In fourteen years, I will go to Europe. I can teach my son to drive a standard and sight-see at the same time. My mother would definitely approve.
Check the Manual (Transmission): Stick Shift Cars Going Away
Death to the Stick Shift (ouch)
Parents Hope Stick Shifts Will Keep Kids Minds on Driving (ah, local news)