Gordie took my car today so I had the station wagon for the day. The moon is full, which inevitably always causes my children to act horrendously difficult. Additionally, the monsoon-like weather we’ve been having is grating on everyone’s nerves. It just wasn’t the day to be without the lounge-on-wheels. Today required cooperation and flexibility where there was little to be found. Backpacks had to be flung into the way back, snack trash littered the floor, and my three children had to buckle up side-by-side like sardines. Within minutes of the first ride to school, one child had left the door open long enough to allow a bunch water onto the seat, causing another child to complain of a wet bum. Five minutes later, we were on the side of the road with the flashers on as I asked child #1 to move herself to the front seat after the fighting had become unbearable. I know the front seat is off-limits for a child her age, but the ride was even shorter than my temper. The verbal assaults continued from all corners of the car, and I practiced yoga breathing all the while thinking, “What would Kofi Annan do in my shoes?”.
The school pick-up was even worse. Children # 2 and #3 were tired, hungry, and in no mood to drive their older sister to her violin lesson. The windows were all fogged up, the wipers were going full steam, and everyone in the car seemed to require a different temperature to feel comfortable. I felt so claustrophobic that I rolled down my window and let the sideways rain drops blast me in the face like someone who had passed out and was being frantically revived. I imagined what it might be like to be photographed at that very moment, and I figured we must look like something like this:
(Clown car, spotted on Route 114 in Danvers earlier today. Driver appeared to be an emotionally fragile 40-something mother headed for Kappy’s).
The irony here is that I remember coming back from France twenty years ago and thinking it was so great that the Europeans make do with such small cars. Of course that is largely due to the fact that their roads are so narrow, as well as the fact that gas prices are obscene there. When I first had kids, I was certain I would never drive anything bigger than my Volvo X-Country wagon. I felt inspired by the European minimalism I had seen, and stuck my nose up at the gas-guzzling Suburbans. I realize now how important my personal space is to me, and I’ve even day-dreamed about installing a plexi-glass panel between my children and the front seat. I could even post a “rules and regulations” sign like you see in the city cabs. Mine would read something like this:
-No touching fellow passengers.
-Remove all empty juice boxes and snack wrappers when exiting vehicle.
-Driver is unpaid for services. Compliments and expressions of gratitude are appreciated.
-Remember your manners. It’s a long walk home.
Rest assured, I won’t be the girl snapping up the tax incentive to drive a Prius anytime soon, unless it’s a ZipCar with a one-way ride to McLean Hospital to treat my diagnosis of pain and suffering. My big sweet girl is back in the garage and ready to roll tomorrow. I’ll most certainly dream of her sliding doors and captain’s chairs all night long.