Saturday, August 8, 2009

There ought to be a law

Being an L.A. family, it's no surprise that we tend to spend a lot of time in the car.

For the most part, road trips are a fairly civil affair. When they know we're going to be on the road for hours to go down to San Diego, or up the coast to NorCal, all is well. We pack snacks, play music and sing, and even have some great conversations.

It's the little trips that can bring out the road rage - and not just in the other drivers, but in those back-seat passengers.

For Southern Californians, our daily commute is really not that bad at all. It's a loop that's big enough to make any public transportation take too long, but small enough that we should be able to do it in 20 minutes. We used to live farther away from where I work, and I confess, I still miss those 25 minutes to myself before picking up the girls at their after-school care. Now, I have about 10 minutes to go from Working Woman to Mom. And my oldest daughter tends to call me halfway through it to see if I'm on my way yet.

So, granted, my patience is not usually at my highest when I pick them up. I want to get home, I want to change clothes, and get dinner started. They usually want to hug each and every one of their friends good-bye (because it'll be 12 whole hours before they see them again), and generally have to make 2 or 3 trips before they have everything to actually leave.

We get in the car, and inevitably, one of them has to tattle on the other. "She was mean to me today!" is the usual complaint. "She didn't let me ___ or play ____ or have ___." "No!" is the usual protest. "YOU wouldn't ____!"

Trying to mediate behind the steering wheel and through the rearview mirror rarely works. I suppose I could pull over and do so, but home is FIVE minutes away. And I want to get there. So I grit my teeth and bear it.

And then we hit the longest light in America. The light that is never green when you get there, of course. In fact, it's usually yellow so I slow down and wait. I wait for those east of me to turn left or continue west-bound. Then I wait for those west of me to turn left or continue east-bound. Then I wait for those south of me to turn left or continue north-bound. Because this light isn't just two-directional - oh, no, it's special. When it's your turn, it's nobody else's turn. But of course, you have to wait three times longer for it to be your turn.

And all the while, the sound of the 8-yr-old and the 11-yr-old girls in the back has gotten more high-pitched. Because they know. They know this is the one time that I really have no control. This is the time where I'm trying ever so hard to be invisible to all the other cars around me. This is the time where even if I do yell my absolute loudest, it still can't drown out the sounds that dogs from miles around can hear coming from my girls. And I'm stuck at the longest light in America where I'm sandwiched between those turning left and those turning right so I couldn't pull over even if I so desired.

So I crank up the volume on the stereo. My 11-year-old immediately forgets the fight and proceeds to belt out whatever song is playing. My 8-year-old is now mad that her sister is SINGING, and yells for a while, but gives up since even she can't be heard over the combination of the song in true stereo.

If I'm lucky, the light is finally green before the song ends.

Yes, I know it's dangerous to talk on the cell phone (hands-free or not) while driving. Because you're supposed to be concentrating on the road. I know it's four times as dangerous to text while driving because you're not even looking at the road.

But when oh when will they make the law that siblings are not supposed to touch, talk, or look at each other in the car?

Originally posted on LA Moms Blog, Aug. 8, 2009.

1 comment:

Julia@SometimesLucid said...

I feel your pain. These are the times when I fantasize (for just a minute) about leaving them on the side of the rode and driving off!