The Warning


There is a new policy in this house.

If we ever want to go anyplace on God's green earth which takes more than 12 hours to get to by plane, train, or automobile...

it ain't happening'. You can just delete that little idea right out of your mind and move onto plan B.

At least that is the policy for the next 10 to 15 years.

Over the holidays, we drove to Dallas to have Christmas with my family. My baby sis and her husband were gracious enough to open their home to my parents, my older sister and her family, and, of course, the "Webber Wonders" as we like to call ourselves.

We had a fabulous time. Really, we did. Laughter and fun time with cousins at my sister's house and here at a local park,
and good food (which Timothy Ferriss would certainly NOT approve of on a non-cheat day).

The problem was the drive. Twelve hours just about any way you cut it or any route you take.

TWELVE, folks. That's a pretty 'fer' piece on the road when the back of the van contains three children who have not yet quite mastered the art of self-entertaining or tolerating a little boredom.

So of course right now you know I'm just compelled to briefly discuss the differences between today's car ride experience with the stone age era my husband and I grew up in.

When I was a little girl, there were few options for traveling entertainment. My mother used to bring along a hymn book and coerce her delighted daughters to harmonize and learn the words to all kinds of songs of the faith. We even learned some sacred harp singing, which is what they call "note singin' " (which was done while we discreetly kicked and poked each other because remember, this was before the days of those handy little mirrors that let the driver see everything that's happening in the backseat).
(the grown-up version of those 3 little girls in the Oldsmobile station wagon...we still kick and elbow each other occasionally)

You might imagine three young girls would much rather listen to a NKOTB or Bryan Adams tape sing about heaven for us, but nevertheless, we passed many long hours in the car just a singin'.

I remember clearly being so suffocatingly hot in the far backseat of our Oldmobile station wagon (named Stella) that it was a breath of fresh air to stick my head out the window to meet the 101 degrees of heavy, humid air outside. Today my children have so many air conditioning vents they could never understand what it's like to actually have to WAIT for the cool air to reach them way back there.

We had to do things like play the alphabet game, count cows, have CONVERSATIONS, etc., when we grew bored. And when we ran out of car games to play, we (and this is unthinkable to today's kids) JUST SAT THERE. Did nothing. Looked out the freakin' window.

But back to my story...Sorry about the rant...

We rolled along on our way home and relished the peace this moment brought:


An hour from home. The goal was in sight. Nearly 24 hours in the car completed with no major breakdowns by children or the van, no accidents, and no tickets.

By the time we completed that last hour of the journey, only one of those three statements were still accurate.

Our daughter, who could not possibly endure another moment of sitting in a nice leather seat and enjoying a great children's movie and surrounded by her favorite books, toys, and snacks, kinda fell apart. It was not pretty, but it FINALLY ended by her closing her eyes and being asleep nearly instantly.

The no accidents part remained true. Does that give you a clue about what else happened?


Blue flashing lights.

I will not embarrass my husband by telling you how fast he was going. I will just say it was a smidgen higher than the actual speed limit.

We pulled over and every little girl woke up instantly. We told them to sit up and look cute and sweet (hey, it can't hurt to try, right?). They put on their most sugar coated smiles, as if they've had lots of practice at manipulation.

My husband pled guilty. No contest. No debate. No excuses. He just confessed.

And then, in a stroke of genius, he muttered something about how we'd been in the car for 11 hours that day with a three-year-old and were just anxious to get home.

The officer walked back to his car. The girls, still wearing their best smiley faces, dropped their moonlight and magnolia act the moment he turned his back and went back to moping and fussing about how much longer it would be.

My husband commented that they seemed surprisingly nonplussed about being pulled over by an officer, as if it was something they'd experienced lots of times.

Umm, I don't know anything about that. No explanation, honey.

The officer came back. He handed my husband a piece of paper. This is what it said:

"WARNING!!!"

Guilty as we were, the officer let us off. He then proceeded to tell us the story of the time he and his wife drove all the way to California with their little kids.

He needed no reminding of what that's like.

Sometimes we grown-ups have to stick together. Even a policeman, someone sworn to uphold the law, overlooked our little bending of the rules of the road.

In this moment, we were really grateful to have small children in the car with us. They almost undoubtedly saved us a bundle that day. See? Kids can manipulate without even saying a word from the backseat. God bless you, Mr. Policeman who remembers. God bless you.

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