Saturday, January 24, 2015

Carpool Conversations

The car. The place a war can start in less than a nanosecond, even among siblings who do strange things like spontaneously hug one another or willingly share their toys. The car brings out the absolute worst in children. When they are babies they scream because they are jammed into their infant carseat. When they are toddlers, they must constantly have a snack they will spill, a sippy cup full of milk they will drop under the seat which will fester until you want to puke from the smell, and heaven help your leather interior if you let the toddler get a hold of a writing instrument. Here in the elementary school years one incorrect eye movement can prompt a complete hissy fit from the sibling who got "looked at funny!" A sister in your favorite booster, even though all the boosters are exactly the same, will prompt, "You better get up, or I am going to tell mom what you did six months ago that one time." A child who is cold will cry abuse when a sibling pouring sweat requests a little AC on a hot August day. The sister who needs help buckling her seat belt is a pariah who, at all costs, must not be sat beside.  

I am ashamed to say some of my less fine parenting moments have been in the car. I sink to their level and yell about their yelling, scream at them to stop screaming, and then enforce total silence. Actually, when we get to that point it makes for a really pleasant trip.  

When we were kids there weren't so many car seat, booster, seat belt, don't sit up front until you are 30 or 300 pounds, and wear-your-race-car-harness-at-all-times rules. I distinctly remember hanging over my mom's shoulder from the back of our silver Cadillac, messing with her hair while she drove. Dad would slam on the brakes trying to toss us down from the back window sill onto the unsuspecting shoulders of the siblings sitting in the seat. Mom would let me reach across the steering wheel and turn on the turn signal. And whose turn it was to sit up front could start a bloodbath. Every single time. I have nightmares about the time my dad pulled the car over when we were battling over who had crossed which imaginary line on the bench seat. He charged out of the car, climbed a hill next to the road and came back with what we down South call a switch. He didn't need to use it because we weren't crazy. We shut that mess up right away. 

My brother and I washing the "Silver Slime."

At one point we had one of those giant blue station wagons with wood down the sides that had two seats which folded out in the very back. Those were the seats you would fight to be in so you could wave at all the poor strangers who pulled up at the stop light behind you. Tons of kids could fit in that thing. And because seat belts weren't a law yet, you just piled them on top of each other, on the floor, in laps, anywhere they fit. When our cousins would come to town we would get eight kids and four adults in there, no problem. It was awesome.  

Now we live in the safety era where a person can be sued over anything, so we must strap, buckle, and tie ourselves into a seat every time we get in the car. Our children know no different. Which is really ok with me. If they were hanging over my shoulder while I was driving I would be tempted to practice my backhand every now and again. 

We live next door to my oldest brother and his family which is so, so fun. (My other brother - the crazy good realtor and the one in the picture with the Silver Slime - could have lived next door to us, but in order to still like us and our kids felt it was necessary to live 30 minutes away.)

Anyways, next-door-brother happens to have three boys in contrast to our three girls. It makes for some interesting games, like playing "Mom and Dad" and then after the dollies are put in their cradles, Mom and Dad end up creaming each other with nerf guns. Or "Mermaids" in the redneck-above-ground-pool turns into "The Day the Sea Monsters Ate All the Mermaids." 

Taking care of their sweet ride.


Five of these six kids go to the same ahh-mazing school, and the other one has graduated on to a school that is close by, so it only makes sense that they ride together. Most afternoons find my sister-in-law's or my minivan crammed full of these six kids, which can lead to some serious insanity. If you ever drive any kids at all around you know what a simple 20 minute ride can turn into. (Remember when my friend's kid ate his carseat?)

For a while these kids were all super into one particular CD, which was one I liked, too. But then they played that CD, and really one particularly fast, loud, "rocking out" song on that CD four hundred bazillion times. Now when I hear the opening riff of that song I whimper and curl up into a ball. It's really a Pavlov's Dog situation. I can't help it. Kinda dangerous when I have a car full of them though. I also feel like that with all songs from Disney movies, a CD full of "fun songs for kids" which includes "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" (get me a sharpened pencil, stat!), and honestly with this one kids' worship CD, which makes me feel really guilty for hating worship music. There's just only so many times I can listen to them repeat, "Every move I make, I make in you..." I know that makes me terrible. Pray for me.    

These kiddos also make for some downright hilarious conversations (well, hilarious and sometimes incredibly annoying). 

For example...

"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
Repeated at least twenty times until I told the "knock knock" kid she was not allowed to say those words ever again in her whole life. Kid goes, "But that's who's there! Knock-knock!!" (I let her live.)

Or...
I don't understand why we can't eat boogers. 

Or...
Where is the only place on your body you can you put your left hand that your right hand can't reach it? (Think about it. I'll tell you at the end. This one was actually interesting.)

Or...
Did you know you can't think about 'clear?' You just can't. You have to picture something behind it. And that's not clear. (You are trying it right now. I know you are.)

Or...
I dissected a worm today so after I get my chores done I'm going to come over and use your really, really nice kitchen scissors and show you what's inside one. 

Or...
What if I'm really a baby, and this is all a dream I'm having? (this child can be very Waiting for Godot)

Or...
Can we stop and get ice cream? (even though this particular child has been told EVERY SINGLE DAY that we will stop and get ice cream on the first day of the month and THAT IS ALL)

Or...
You also can't think about nothing because you will think about black and black is something. (You are trying this, too.)

Or...
No, I don't.
Yes, you do.
No, I don't.
Yes, you do.
No, I don't.
Yes, you do. (repeat for all eternity)

Or...
Let's sing 99 bottles of milk on the wall! (I almost tossed this kid out onto the side of the road for some nice trucker to pick up.)

Or...
Did you know that King Tut died from a mosquito bite? That's probably how you are all going to die. We have tons of mosquitoes here. 

Or...
Without turning around, tell me if my eyes are opened or closed. (HOW is this fun?)

Or...
I bet I can hum longer than you can without taking a breath.

Or...
There are 212 fire hydrants between our house and school.

Or...
Would you rather be eaten by an alligator or mauled by a bear? You HAVE to answer!

Or...
Stop kicking my seat. Stop kicking my seat. Stop kicking my seat. Stop kicking my seat. FOR THE LOVE IF YOU KICK MY SEAT AGAIN I WILL NEVER BUY YOU ANOTHER PAIR OF SHOES, AND YOU WILL GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL IN THOSE TWINKLE TOES!

Or...
Do you wanna smell my sock?

Or...
Let's see who can keep their hand touching the ceiling of the van all the way home.

Or...
How much longer? (This question makes me insane. We drive this route five days a week. The van could drive itself. How can you not know how much longer from any point in the commute?)

And on and on and on. 


But sometimes there are amazing conversations about life, and what God is doing, and how He is using this ahh-mazing school, and civil rights, and what reconciliation looks like, and how we can better use our time, talents, gifts, and resources to spread the Gospel and bring glory to the name of Jesus.

And then that ten seconds ends, and it's back to,

"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did."
"No, I didn't"
"Yes, you did."
"No, I didn't...hey, pull my finger!"

***It's your right elbow. You are doing it right now, aren't you?***

Grace for carpoolers everywhere,
Martha

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