Thursday, May 02, 2013

I just can't even...

March to May?!  ::hanging head in shame::  In my defense, I...oh, nevermind.

Well crap, guys. You know how marketers love to make commercials that use kids saying embarrassing things they've overheard their parents saying, and saying them at the most inopportune times, for maximum humiliation and mortification of the parents?  And you know how we laugh and laugh at those commercials and do our best Homer Simpson impression (he really is our Everyman, isn't he?) by looking at each other and saying, "its funny because its true!"

Yeah.  Its funny.  On TV.  In real life? Not so much.

It would seem that teaching my child the fine and subtle art of sarcasm at the age of five might have been just a smidgen ill-advised and premature.  An error in good judgment, if you will.  Also?  Allowing my child to see the inner beast of my true nature while I'm behind the wheel of a car?  Not smart. Also?  Driving with my windows down during stop and go traffic? Bad idea.

See, when I was a little girl, I was always very squirmy about driving in a car with my dad. My dad is a wonderful person in a million different ways--he's funny and kind and generous and loyal and a great dancer, and I adore him to the moon and back.  But.  Let's just say he doesn't suffer fools when he's driving.  And he's got a pretty loose definition of "fools" when he's behind the wheel.  Like, "anyone who's not him" loose.  An otherwise soft-spoken and non-confrontational man, he never passes up an opportunity to point out to the driver of the car in front of him the myriad of ways that person is an imbecile, dim-wit, and/or idiot who can't drive the speed limit, doesn't know how to pass appropriately or is otherwise decimating everyone else's otherwise lovely and pleasant driving experience.  In his defense, my dad is a fantastic driver, always has been.  I know of not one moving vehicle violation or accident, minor or major, that he's ever been involved in (knock wood).  But as a child, and a child who was (is) at heart a warm & fuzzy let's-all-just-get-along type, it always gave me serious agita to sit in the backseat and listen to my father snarl and curse under his breath.  This was the 70's and 80's--before the term road rage was invented.  But even then I told myself that I wouldn't get all ragey behind the wheel.

And yet.

I will say, I really do try to remember that everyone's got their own thing going on, and that me getting to where I'm going isn't everyone else's main priority.  The guy who blows past me when our lanes are merging might be on his way to the hospital for some emergency.  The person driving 10 miles below the speed limit might be driving their car for the first time after being involved in a car accident of some kind.  The person who's left-turn signal has been on for the past 10 miles might be in a rental and doens't realize that the car hasn't automatically turned it off.  There are million reasons that people might be momentarily lousy drivers.  And I try to keep that in mind and be gentle with them.  But really.  Some people are just dumbass shouldn't-have-passed-drivers-ed drivers, amirite?

Ethan seems to have not gotten my "stay quiet when the grown-ups are muttering under their breath and cursing people in the car in front of them" gene.  I don't know, maybe it skips a generation.  Rather than sitting quietly and chewing his fingernails to the quick while I encounter the aforementioned shouldn't-be-driving types, Ethan slides into the role of my comrade in arms--echoing my sentiments, sarcastic comments and all.  More than once (daily) he can be heard from the back seat sharply sucking his front teeth and exclaiming "excellent driving, buddy!!" before I even say anything; its like he anticipates my frustration and vocalizes it for me.  I'm not proud.  But I kind of am a little tiny bit.  But not really. (yes, I kind of am).

When he does it (again, daily), I take deep breaths and remind myself to be kinder and gentler to other drivers on the road--he is unwittingly my conscious. His mirroring of my sarcasm, while excellently delivered and perfectly timed (thus the pride), is a reminder that he is always watching, always absorbing, always picking up my habits and making them his own.  When he makes a scathing comment about another driver, I take a deep breath and apologize to him for being such an impatient driver and ask him to try to have more patience, too.

But today.  Oy.  It was the perfect storm of circumstances that could only mean that I was bound to be humiliated and mortified, in a reaping what I've sown, getting what I deserved kind of way.

We were running late.  Something about socks and shoes (both mysteriously missing from their carelessly strewn in the entry way location from the day before--note to self: expect chaos on mornings after you've tidied up as the men in the house are unaccustomed to finding things where they actually belong), and a hot lunch versus packed lunch "discussion" that set us behind by a few minutes.  No big deal.  Plenty of time to get to school.

Or one would think.  But one would be wrong.  Because one forgot to take into account the crossing-guard.  The crossing guard who hates all people in cars and wants them to be late. Who doesn't love a crossing guard?! A human gateway to elementary school, in safety-orange.  A human lighthouse, if you will, with a stop-sign on a stick. I have distinct memories of hugging my first grade crossing guard every afternoon, mid-crossing, and feeling so glad she was there to usher me safely across the big scary road (nerd).  So I've got nothing but respect for the lady in the orange vest.

But omg, someone needs to give this lady a flow-chart or something. Anything to help her manage the constant stream of pedestrians and drivers bearing down on her at any given time.   Totally getting that her number one priority is the safety of the children making the long perilous sojourn through the cross walk, one would think that there could be some way of balancing that objective with the concept that parents driving their kids to school also want their kids to get to school before lunch time, and the drop off line takes roughly a quarter of an eon to get through as it is.

Ms Crossing Guard has a habit of running out into the road and stopping traffic at the slightest hint that a pedestrian is somewhere on the block and approaching the hallowed cross walk.  Each and every pedestrian gets his or her own safe passage, which means Ms Crossing Guard is often walking back to her station on the side walk and then abruptly turns around and blows her whistle again, stomping back into the center of the road again, leaving all the cars exactly where they were before she went out into the road the first time.  I have seen the driver of the car at the other stop sign eyeing me in what I can only assume was some attempt to message me like a coach signaling his runner to go ahead and steal 2nd at the first available opportunity.  We drivers have to stick together.

Never has a pedestrian been asked to "wait right there" for a moment while the two lanes of traffic take turns moving ahead past the cross-walk.   Never has she waited for 2-3 kids to pile up at the side walk before letting them cross as a group, thus allowing 2-3 cars to make it through to the drop off line.  Today I counted FIVE full out-and-back-and-out-and back turns through the cross walk before she let one car go through, and then went back out into the cross walk to wait for one kid who wasn't even at the cross walk yet...

I might have been drumming my fingers on the steering wheel.  Its possible I sighed heavily.  I might have said "any time!" impatiently, under my breath.

Cue humiliation and mortification in 3, 2, 1....

As Ms Crossing Guard came back to the side walk and it was my turn to inch through the cross-walk, Ethan piped up with "Oh, I guess we're not invisible after all, Mommy!" With his window open, right as we coasted by the lady.

::hanging head in shame::

I have no way of knowing if she heard. Or if she did hear, if she had any idea that Ethan was referring to our lengthy wait behind the stop sign as the first bell rang while she stood in the middle of the road waiting on kids half a block away.  But I still felt my face flush hot with embarrassment and guilt at my own inability to hold my tongue in these situation.  We spent the 4 minutes in the drop off line (wow, I guess its really not a quarter of an eon after all...deep breaths, perspective and all that jazz), talking about how the crossing guard's job is to keep the walking kids safe and a minute or two here or there in our day is no big deal, its just more time we get to be together before we say goodbye for the day, and that mommy will practice being more patient if Ethan will, too.  We talked a bit about how sarcasm can be hurtful rather than funny and that we both have to be careful with how we use it, even if it does make us giggle because getting a giggle isn't worth it if we hurt someone else's feelings.

Starting the day with a big fat momFAIL.  I win.  Tomorrow I think maybe we'll park a block away and walk to school, through the crossing guard's territory.  Maybe we'll pick some flowers for her. And get to school on time while those suckers in cars wait. and wait. and wait.


Sarah said...

At least he didn't cuss, right? You get props for that for sure.

Becca said...

Heh, oops.

But seriously that crosswalk situation sounds nightmarish. Ever just open the door and boot him out right there on the side of the road to run the rest of the way? I don't think I'd be able to maintain calm either after the 3rd *individual* kid crossed the street. Let alone the fifth. Oy.