I’ve got a theory. If you’ve had a vehicle and a child for any length of time, your family has at least three types of auto adventure stories:
That time something really frightening happened (or almost happened),
That time somebody said/did something really funny, and
That time Mom or Dad did something they regret.
I’ve had encounters with all three types of situations this week. Here are my tales.
My kids and I came upon a major traffic jam. I was supposed to pick up my friend’s kids from VBS and now I was going to be late. I had visions of the kids worrying about their ride; of the volunteer VBS workers calling the mom and demanding an explanation for my tardiness.
Up ahead, I could see a fire truck blocking several lanes of traffic. I quickly asked my son (nickname: The Human GPS), “Is there another street I can turn on before we get to that intersection?”
“Yes,” he replied hastily. “Turn left on Industrial. Here!”
The car in front of me had the same idea, and we both ducked off the main road. Once we were on the side street, the driver ahead of us pulled all the way over to the right (almost up on the curb) and slowed down. I thought she was stopping, so I stayed to her left and started to pass her. However, she wasn’t planning to stop; she was planning to do a U-turn. Just as I came alongside her, she shot out and nearly plowed into the front passenger side of my minivan. I honked the horn and she stopped abruptly, our vehicles coming within mere inches of each other.
I saw the other driver clap her hand over her mouth, shocked as she realized how close we had come to a collision. Relieved, I took a deep breath and started driving again. My son – 8 years old – exclaimed “Thank You, God!” as we pulled away, unscathed.
That night, my two kids and I met up with my husband on his way home from work. At the end of the evening, we had both of our vehicles to drive home. My 5-year-old daughter decided she would ride with me; my son rode with his dad. The guys pulled out before we did, but after a couple minutes on the road, we ladies passed them. Without thinking, I waved to them and playfully called, “See ya later, suckas!”
My daughter – bewildered but always looking for fun – caught my playful tone and said, “‘SUCKAS?’ What’s a sucka?”
I was not prepared for this. “Uh. I don’t know. Just something silly to say, I guess.”
I spent the next few minutes trying not to laugh as she tested ways to use her new favorite word. Which leads to the last category…
A smiling, pleasant woman greeted me as she walked up to my garage sale. We spoke briefly about her grandchildren as she perused the tables. A few minutes later, she brought her choice items to the front. One of her purchases was the New Testament on cassette tapes. My mom, the previous audio Bible owner, said, “Oh, I’m so glad somebody is buying those!”
The sweet buyer lady replied, “Well, I do a lot of driving. I thought I might as well listen to the Lord while I drive. That way, I won’t be giving anybody the finger.”
I’d like to say that my demeanor behind the wheel evokes lots of “Thank You, God” responses from my children, and fewer examinations of crude words. But I’m not sure that’s true. I don’t know that I’ve ever given another driver the finger, but I’ve certainly said things while driving that I wouldn’t normally say otherwise. My kids have witnessed a few of these incidents.
For some reason, driving can elicit strong emotion in many of us.
Maybe negative, unexpected encounters with other drivers serve to remind us that we’re participating in a very risky escapade. We feel vulnerable, sitting at the wheel of an expensive machine, often carrying our dearest ones as cargo while we navigate through a series of perilous maneuvers.
When we’re in a bad mood, is it possible we welcome the opportunity to heap abuse on someone we’ll (hopefully) never see again?
Perhaps we look forward to being in a confined area with our favorite people, spending time together and looking for adventure.
What about you? What strong emotions pop up when you drive? What are your most memorable driving stories? How do you guard against The Regrettable when driving with your kids?