Saturday, April 27, 2013


A lot can happen while driving.

I don’t mean the obvious catastrophic outcomes of poor driving choices made countless times a day by everyone behind the wheel. No. I mean moments of clarity. Captured between the lines of a busy, regular day of to-ing and fro-ing.

Part and parcel of parenting, and all of its phases, I am smack in the middle of that chunk of time between adolescence and adulthood. These are trying times. I take comfort and find some solace in the recognition that I still am needed — if only to give my kids money and a ride.

I try and maximize the opportunity on the road to spend neutral time. Especially after the usual chaos and frequent battles that ensue getting out the door. Sometimes we connect through music; sometimes through silence. And in a rare cosmic treat, when the stars align, and my kids open up to me, I try not to let the resulting eagerness mixed with joy jump off my face like a neon sign blazing; scaring them back into silence.

The other day, my youngest daughter and I, in an unusual moment, were the only two in the car. She was sitting in the front passenger seat; even less seldom. Not only is she third in line to inherit that magical mystery throne, but also when I look at her through the blurred vision of my lastborn, I see only her three-year old self.

We were coming home from piano along the backcountry roads in England, which only the bravest of hearts traverse with any speed. They are bumpy and twisty, and at any moment you might need to pull full-stop to the side (if there is one) to let an on-coming tractor the size of a freighter pass you by. It’s a constant game of chicken.

Besides the cautionary crash speed, it’s just nice to take it slow sometimes. It’s planting season, and the deep chocolate earth is combed into perfect symmetry, opened up like mother Earth herself, lying in wait for the farmer’s seeds. (I just wrote that!)

So we were riding together in shared silence when I broke it. No I CRASHED it.

Gabby — have you ever picked a booger so perfectly formed and GI-normous, you were simply amazed you found it in your nose?”

She looked over side-long, sort of long and slow, and said simply, “Mother.”

I laughed out loud and maybe for the first time that day. Then I decided. My kids are going to be just fine — in spite of me.