I spend a good deal of my life in the car carting my sons about town for various activities and social engagements. They will be 15 this year...I don't know who is looking forward to their driver's licenses more, them or me. Not that I don't enjoy what I do, it is just that with the active lifestyle we seem to be maintaining, there are days that not turning the key in the ignition sounds like a vacation for which I am long overdue...particularly in respect to those 5:00 a.m. swim practices...followed closely by the 5:00 p.m. swim practices. Around here we call it car-to-the-pool-ing and it happens six days a week. After 8 years, I am thinking most anyone would be looking forward to the release date.
As I am driving about, I often wonder what is going on in other people's cars. Surely others are also experiencing the rampant chaos that often accompanies our trips in the car. I see all the cars going to and fro, wondering if they are all indeed just coming and going with no little mini-dramas happening within the interiors. Meals on wheels are not uncommon in ours...we sometimes go from event to event with nary a dining table in sight...a quick drive through usually fills the need for nourishment on the run. I have found with boys, especially teenage boys, eating is just a means to an end...there is not a lot of slow savoring of the meal or lingering at the table over meaningful conversations. We often change clothes in the car...a swim team locker room is not any more (and often times a whole lot less) conducive to donning suit, tie, etc. for Cotillion...it is a bit like Superman, only instead of a telephone booth, the boys enter the car in one outfit (swim gear usually) and exit in something completely different, the aforesaid suit and tie for instance. We listen to music, watch movies, study, chat, plan, dream, share meaningful bits...all in the car. The car has become more than just a means of transport to and fro...it is our life in miniature.
So, what goes on in all those other cars I encounter each and every day? I always wonder. Especially when the boys were small, I would look over and wonder if we were the only loony transport on the streets that day. Everyone else seemed so normal as I glanced at them at the stoplights, etc. Nothing unusual ever seemed to be going on in anyone else's cars. One of my favorite examples of looniness, for instance, was one day going from a library program to violin lessons. We ran through Wendy's for a meals on wheels lunch. On the freeway, about 20 minutes into the trip, Alex says, "Mom, I think I have a problem here." He was five...this was not unheard of at this stage of the game. "Yes?" "Well, I pushed my thumb through the bottom of my Coke cup and now if I pull it out, all the Coke is going to come out." Okay, I am thinking...stay calm...be the adult here...respond nicely. "Okay, Alex, just hold it there until we get to your lesson, about another 10 minutes." "I can't because it is really cold and my thumb is starting to not feel anything and it is also oozing out the sides a bit." At this point, Matt, also five, said, "Alex, there is a cup in the cup holder right beside you, maybe you can pour it into that cup." I said, "Great idea...will that work?" To which Alex responded, "Well, I guess I can do that, but I used that cup to trap a bee inside, and I can still hear him moving around a bit. If I take off the lid, the bee might fly out and sting us." "A bee? A live bee? You have a live bee in that cup?" "Yes, he was on the window and I trapped him in the cup so I could let him loose when we got home." "Alex, do not open that lid...I will pull over as soon as I get a safe shoulder." Definitely someone else's life...my vision of my life bore no resemblance to occasions such as these. I pulled over, we corrected all the ills, let the bee go free, and proceeded on our way. So, what does go on in other people's cars...it always seems like more days than not, our car is operating out of the norm, more on the loony scale. I am sure I will miss it when it is no longer a given...but as I leave now to go pick up my swimmer from practice, I am sure that before I return home, there will be some point where I will wonder..."What exactly is going on in that car over there...it looks fairly normal...can I ride with them instead?"