My sister and I were talking about our kids the other day
and I told her that some days, I just want to curl up in a cave and hide for
Because recently my daughters told me that living with me is
like living in the military.
I admit that I want the house somewhat picked up: While I’m not into decorating the house with
fancy-schmancy things, book bags and shoes and textbooks strewn all over the
house aren’t quite the look I’m going for.
And, yes, perhaps I do get a bit cranky when I wait ten minutes for them
in the school parking lot.
yeah, I do get grumpy when I’m asked to drive too much.
I mean, isn’t that what stay-at-home moms are supposed to do? Stay at home?
Whenever they tell me I’m too bossy or too demanding or too
whatever it is I’m too much of that day, I launch into my “you guys have it
much easier than I did” speech and their eyes gloss over.
So now, I’m teaching my girls to drive. One hundred and thirty hours of parental
This was supposed to be my husband’s job, but on the rare
occasion he allowed the girls out of the local park, he would keep a firm grip
on the steering wheel.
Alas, my car, my cute little car, is no longer my own. Every time I get into my car, I nearly scrape
off my ass. Because V is five feet tall
and one hundred pounds. I am 5’6” and…well,
I’m not one hundred pounds. Every time I
get into my car, I find my mirrors tilted at jaunty angles. I find my windows down, and I suspect Outside Cat sleeps on the driver’s seat at night.
In my car now, I find fast food wrappers and apple cores and pens and
I grump and grouse and clear my throat and begin my lecture
about “the old days.”
And then I remember:
My mom had this blue station wagon. And I frequently drove it to school or band
practice or piano lessons. One day, as I
was driving one of my best friends home, one of us (I’m not sure whose idea it
was, but since my kids sometimes read this, I’ll blame it all on my friend) had
the crazy idea to light a smoke bomb and toss it upon the lush green lawn of
some boy we either liked or despised, I can’t remember. I’m not quite certain of the goal of this
project. Perhaps it was just a spot of
fun to break up the monotony of the day.
Now, by today’s standards, this bit of high jinx seems innocuous, but in
rural Ohio, it was big doings.
At least we thought it was.
We approached the boy’s house. I slowed the car. We cranked the windows down halfway. My friend lit a match then held it to the
fuse of the smoke bomb. “Throw it,” I urged,
watching the smoke start to pour forth from the bowels of the bomb. “Throw
She threw it.
It hit the window.
The smoke bomb flew into the backseat, whirling around like
The car started to fill with smoke. My lungs began to hurt. My eyes…my eyes began to stream a river of
“Go,” my friend
We drove down the street, smoke billowing from the windows
of the car.
Somehow, we were able to lasso in the smoke bomb and toss it
out the window and onto someone else’s lawn.
But the car stank.
There were burn holes in the upholstery.
I dropped my friend off at her house; the jovial mood was gone.
That evening, I became quite industrious. I washed my mother’s car; told her she couldn’t
go drive it until I was done. I washed
the outside, even the windows. Probably
even waxed it. I vacuumed the interior,
carefully studying the holes in the upholstery.
I got the kitchen scissors and cut a few pieces of the blue carpet and
glued them to the seat. Finally, hours
later, I gave my mom the royal tour.
At the end, I confessed.
I pointed out the holes. “What,
are you smoking?” She asked.
“Well, no. We threw a
smoke bomb onto someone’s lawn and missed.”
And just like that, my mom let it drop.
In the old days, my life wasn’t all rules and regulations
and chores and to-do lists.
My life was fun and forgiveness and love.
I remember that now.
And someday, I hope, my kids will too.
But for now, I think I’ll head out for a drive. It’s too pretty to stay at home today.
Someone’s borrowed my car again.
Labels: Creative non-fiction, Daughters, Growing up