Driving with Children

Jul 17, 2009

The common belief in America is that it is most dangerous to drive while drinking, while eating or while talking on your cell phone. I, however , would like to add another option to that list which I think is at least as much, if not more, dangerous than all of the above.

Driving with children.

Honestly, I’m not even joking. I am truly shocked that more mothers (and by “more” I mean, ALL mothers) do not have more car accidents (and by “more” I mean, every single time they get in their cars and drive with their kids).

There is nothing more distracting to driving than having a child in the car and, with each additional child you pile in, the commotion quadruples.

If you have children, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, or it’s been so long since your kids were small that you’ve forgotten, let me give you a glimpse into my car and you’ll see what I mean.

The average person gets in their car, focuses on the road, maybe listens to the radio and drives. That is not exactly what happens in my car. Oh, I drive, all right, but while trying to focus on the road I am also yelling at my two-year-old to put his seat belt back on, handing the baby bottles and toys from the floor and listening to my daughter sing (very loudly and generally, very off key).

As I merge into traffic, my daughter begins to yell, “Can I have number 7?” (She means track 7 on the CD we’re listening to – and, by the way, it is never a CD of my choice. If I try to put in my music, my two-year-old screams so loudly that the car next to us can hear. So, it’s generally something like Hannah Montana or Sesame Street or Bible School Music.)

“Got it,” I say, as I hit the button to get to number 7 and look in my rearview mirror.

“Mommy! The baby is pulling Bennett’s hair!”

I glance back. “Bennett! Put your seatbelt back on and sit up! He can’t reach your hair if you sit up!”

Both the baby and Bennett start to cry.

“Can I have number 10?”

“Ten. Got it.” Click, click, click.

More off-key singing. Now Bennett has joined in. I smile at him and start to sing along myself.

“No, Mommy! You no sing! No singing!" He starts to cry, throwing his body back and forth in his carseat as if he's having a seizure.

“Geez," I think. "Some people actually like my singing."

Oh, well. Back to focusing on the road.

“I want juice!”

“Where’s your sippy cup?” I ask.

“Down there!” Bennett points to a spot I just can’t reach.

“Wait until we get to a stop light. I’ll get it then!”

“I’m thirsty!”

“You have to wait!”

“I want my sippy!”

“PLEASE may I have my sippy,” I remind him to be polite.

“Pweese may I have sippy,” he says.

“When we stop at a light,” I say again.

He starts to cry. I try to reach over as I drive. I can just about get it . . . if I bend over a little more . . . there . . . got it.

“Here,” I say, handing it to him.

“Can I have number three?” Jordan yells. “No, wait. Can I have the Camp Rock CD instead?”

I glance down, sort through the pile of CDs next to me with one hand, as I steer with the other, and locate the desired disc.

(When my best friend, Shanika, came to visit about a year ago, she said to me, “My gosh. You’re like a DJ when you drive you the car.” And it’s true. I am.)

“Can I have number three on this CD?”

I click to number three.

“Fire engine! Fire engine!”

I turn left at the light.

“Fire engine. Fire engine.”

I start to zone out.

“Mommy! Fire engine!”

“Oh, yes.” I say, coming back into reality. “Fire engine.” Because, let me tell you, if I don’t acknowledge that Bennett has seen a fire engine, or a truck, or an ambulance or a fire hydrant or a tractor or a school bus . . . you get the idea . . . he will keep saying the word again and again and again until I repeat it.

“Mommy! I’m hot! Can you turn up the air?”

Sure.

“Mommy! It’s too cold back here, can you turn it down again?”

Sure.

“Mommy. Can we play, “I spy?”

Sure.

“I spy something orange.”

“Outside the car?” I ask.

“No, in the car,” Jordan says.

I name every orange thing I see. None of them are right.

“Where is this thing?” I ask her.

“In the back seat,” she tells me.

“I can’t SEE the backseat,” I remind her.

I try to focus on the rush hour traffic.

“Look, Mommy,” she says.

“I can’t look,” I tell her.

“Just look.”

“I can’t,” I say, getting more and more frustrated.

“Look at me!” Bennett yells. “Look at me!”

“I can’t look right now. You have to wait until I stop the car.”

“Please! Just look quickly.”

I try to glance in the rearview mirror and pray I don’t hit the car in front of me.

“Nice orange crayon, Jordan,” I tell her. “Nice banging your head into the back of the carseat, Bennett. Baby – please stop screaming.” I try to hand the baby, who is behind me, a graham cracker.

“I want one! I want one!”

“Can I have number 9?”

“Mommy, turn down the music. How old will I be when Bennett is 5?”

“Mommy! I spilled my juice!”

“Mommy! Can you hand me that book?”

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”

And then, out of sheer frustration, I drive my car off the side of a cliff, just to stop the noise.

Okay, I’m just kidding. I’ve never done that, nor would I ever (I don’t think). But, sometimes, I just want silence. I just want to focus on my driving. I just want to listen to an actual radio station and not a CD of the Wiggles. I just want quiet.

“Mommy, Bennett’s throwing his cars at the baby’s head!”

“Mommy, the baby’s eating Bennett’s shoe.”

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!”

Finally, I pull into my driveway and rest my head on the steering wheel.

Another excursion accomplished safely, though I don’t always know how. I just thank God, because he must have had some Guardian angels around us to get us home in one piece throughout all the chaos. I know that I could never have done it alone – especially not day after day, trip after trip.

I wonder if there’s any chance a chauffeur is in our household budget?

4 comments:

Michan said...

Precisely why we don't have the radio on while driving.

I too have felt like driving off a cliff, but then I come to my senses and just tune them out as best as I can.

Molly Boyd said...

You seriously need to consider getting a DVD installed, I was very opposed to it in the begining but now anytime we are on a long drive, stuck in traffic or just need a break I plug on in hand their headphones and drive along. I promise it is so worth it, if for nothing else but your blood pressure!

Kelly Seiler said...

Molly - you're right! We have the portable DVDs but those are only for long car trips. The everyday trips are just MISERY!

Michan said...

We do have a portable DVD player, but one kid always hogs the thing or the other will bump it and then it is kaputt until it is charged again. I should probably just get one installed in the ceiling of the car.

Oh, well.

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