People say using mobile phones while driving is dangerous. I agree 100%. The statistics regarding accidents due to mobile phone distraction speak for themselves.
Drink driving? Dangerous.
Drug driving? Dangerous.
But I think there is something just as dangerous as all of these things: having more than one child in your car, especially if they are siblings.
The bickering and arguing that goes on in my car drives me to distraction, literally.
Have you seen the National Lampoons Vacation movie (the newer one, not the old Chevy Chase classic) where the mum confiscates all electronic devices in the car, so the younger brother amuses himself by trying to suffocate the older one with a plastic bag?
I laughed way too hard at that. Welcome to my life.
Recently, amid a somewhat heated argument between my two children, my youngest son launched himself without warning from the back seat to grab his older brother in a headlock in an effort to force him to apologise. I nearly ran the car off the road.
See I told you: dangerous.
Ok, so that behaviour was extreme, but this has been going on for years.
Several years ago I got so fed up with the arguing in the car that I pulled into the carpark of the nearest police station, and threatened to take the boys in and leave them there. This was particularly effective: not a peep from the backseat the whole way home.
Unfortunately I made a rookie error: you can only play the police card once, and I fear I played it too early. Now the boys simply look back and laugh about the time I pulled in to the cop shop and threatened to leave them there.
I have been feeling very defeated about the constant bickering until the other day when a good friend of mine told me a story that still makes me smile.
The story goes like this: my friend finished work, picked up her two children from school and had to stop at Rebel Sport on the way home to buy a gift for a child’s birthday party the next day. Her kids nagged her relentlessly to buy them something (as kids do in Rebel Sport: I always end up losing my shit in that store. Surely it’s not just me?). So the birthday gift was purchased and each child walked out of the store with smiles on their faces and new jumpers in their arms.
Then came the ride home.
Almost immediately they started arguing and squabbling. Unable to get them to stop with verbal pleas, then verbal threats, then physical efforts (in her frustration this mum grabbed an umbrella but couldn’t lift it high enough to whack them properly because the roof of the car was too low). Nothing worked.
So she pulled out the big guns. She chucked a u-ey, drove back to Rebel and returned the new jumpers. The best part is that she explained to the shop assistant exactly why she had to return them and they refunded her money: no problem.
That my friends, is parenting goals.
I love this story so much because it reassures me I am not alone.
I often see mums en route to drop off or driving home from school gesticulating wildly at their kids in the car. Now I realise they are probably losing their shit, like me. I feel like we need a wave of acknowledgement, one that says: “Yep, I see you. Same shit, different car over here”.
We could call it the solidarity salute.
What do you think? Please tell me I’m not alone. We all have these stories, right?