Saturday, February 18, 2012

Diapers and Driving: The Perils of Parenting

There are precisely two jobs as a parent I really, really loathe...
(I mean besides teaching fractions....)
and those would be
potty training and driving lessons.


I'm on my tenth round of potty training.
And I have never had a child initiate this.
Some children take to it more quickly than others, but it's the same overall story.

There is some silly book that has been going around for at least a generation telling you that you can potty train in a day.
All lies.
These are the same yahoos who tell you that breast-feeding helps you lose weight.
I beg to differ...
because breast-feeding is like carrying around two gallon jugs of milk,
all day,
every day.
Lose weight?
Uh huh.

Anyway, potty training.
Twenty-four hours, my eye.
It really means days of pointing out, again, where the porcelain throne is located.
It really means weeks of puddles and other surprises
and you just praying you find any desperadoes before guests arrive.
It really means mountains of laundry
and eau de toilet.

But the years pass, and, to date, I haven't had a kid who wasn't potty trained by thirteen.

Yes. I loathe it entirely.

Then they turn sixteen.
And they want to drive.

Where do they want to go?
We homeschool, for crying out loud.
That means we do everything in the house,
and we don't let them socialize until they have an engagement ring.
So. I repeat.
Where do they want to go?

Parents have a "stupid gene" that quickens with the first turn of the ignition at the hands of their offspring.
And as I sit there in the driveway, mentally ticking off the important things before we pull out, I wonder who is dumb enough to ride into open traffic with a new driver.
Apparently, I am.

Buckle your seatbelt. Check.
Position rearview mirrors. Check.
Watch for small children. Check.

Okay, honey, you can back out of the driveway now.
(Whoops. Silly me. I forgot to tell him the speed limit sign only applies to forward motion.)
The speed limit sign only applies to forward motion. Check.
Don't hit that child.
Try to take the next turn with all four wheels on the ground.
These are power breaks; you don't have to attack them.
Ditto on the steering.
Are you driving with two feet? No, sir. Only one.
No, that doesn't mean you can tuck your spare foot under you.
NO! You can't hang it out the window, either.
The yellow light does not mean gun the engine.

Finally, we pull back into the drive.
My heart is beginning to find its regular rate again.
He turns off the engine.
All's quiet on the homefront.
I open my door to disembark.
And then we begin to roll...
in my fifteen passenger van.

The world moves in slow motion,
and our voices are speaking in super slo-mo.
Moo oo oom, wwhhhyyyy aaa rr eee weeeee roo llingggg???

Hii iitt ttthhe brreaaakkk!!!

III aa aammmm...

Did I mention that I had opened my door?
Did I further mention that this was a fifteen passenger van,
a multi-ton vehicle?
a tank to the untrained eye?
And as I was--(remember that "stupid gene")--looking at the gearshift, trying to figure out what was happening,
my open door collided with a tree.
The tree won.

(Oh. Now I know what I forgot to tell him. When he turns the engine off, he loses all power--breaks included.)
When you turn off the engine, you lose all...
oh never mind...

My poor van.
My blue whale.
And now we pour in and out of her like ants coming out of an anthill.
Ten of us (only because two of us are away at school--but when those two come home next week for spring break, twelve of us) pile out of the driver's side.

I'm sitting here wondering what all the potty training fuss was about.

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