Posted tagged ‘driving’

Riding in the Car with Mom

January 13, 2011

“….now we need to find him a car and I am never driving my kids to school again!”

At first, I heartily agreed with a friend’s Facebook status expressing exhilaration at her son finally getting his driver’s license.   Not having to cart your socially active/sports playing kids/teenagers around town is kind of freeing.   But driving them to school?  Hmm…..

My children have had to deal with Mom’s Taxi from the very start of their school careers out of necessity.  Since we didn’t live in the school district where I taught, and wanting him (and later, her) to be on the same year round school calendar as I was, I enrolled Prince across district boundary lines.  This meant that he needed to ride with me every day and spend a time in the before school child care program at his school so I could skedaddle to mine.  Later I managed to find a parent closer to our house who could babysit in the mornings and they could catch the bus from her neighborhood.  Then I was transferred to a school right next door to a middle school so they could ride to work with me in the mornings and then walk down and wait my classroom till the end of the elementary school day.  When he went to high school we even managed to finagle a ride for him on a high school route that would drop him off at my elementary school so he could wait even longer.

But they did their homework in the Media Center, helped out in classrooms and got into some harmless trouble now and then.  But we rode together……every day.

Back and forth.

In Mom’s Taxi.

When they were younger we would sing songs at the top of our lungs, practice spelling words and talk about books they were reading as we drove back and forth.  We knew the routes to take to see the MOST obnoxious holiday displays and the short cuts to avoid – or not – on muddy days.   We knew where to plug our noses to avoid the smell of mulch in the making.  We knew where to see nesting swans and baby ducks in ponds along the way.  

But the reason that I could relate to my friend’s happiness at those ‘taxi’ days coming to an end is because driving kids – now teenagers – can be a bit aggravating.  We have had days when the only conversation we had were grunts or snorts as they took cat naps in the car.   And the surliness of kids who were tired of the mundane routine of school was a little hard to bear at times….especially if my own day had been challenging. 

 I did have some respite from the task when HRH was laid off from his job for a period of six months last year.  He did the chaffering to their schools and I enjoyed the luxury of being able to leave home a bit later in the morning.   To play MY songs on the radio.  To roll the windows down and turn off the air conditioning.

But the truth of it is, I kind of missed those morning and afternoon drives after a while.  I missed the forced containment in a small space with my kids for a short period of time. 

You see, riding in the car with Mom gave me a few moments of the day to reconnect with them.  To hear about how their day went, who they were sitting with at lunch and what ‘crappy’ homework they had to do.  I heard about substitute teachers that were awesome and shenanigans in the hall that others were involved in.  Always….others. 

I know the music they like and the radio stations they tune into.  I know the fast food places they want to stop at for an after school ‘snack’ and how quickly they can ‘power shop’ in the mornings at the 24 hour grocery store.  I knew how they felt about the current events we saw happening on the news as we were on the way out the door. 

So now that one has a license to drive and the other has her learner’s permit the campaign to get a car for them has stepped up somewhat.  They want to drive themselves to school.

But, in all honesty, I am planning on holding out for at least another year. 

I’d miss my kids.


Help! There’s a Gorilla on my Roof!

August 16, 2009

    It has been twenty years since I was last there.  They still had a dolphin show and the Fun House.  The Iron Dragon was a brand spanking new ride.  We’d gone with my soon to be in laws, their two boys and my soon to be stepdaughters.   We got a hotel room, spent the entire day exploring, riding and snacking.  My son’s first trip was just over a year ago when the entire 8th grade spent their last day of school there.  He came back a roller coaster fiend.  And I mean…FIEND.  The Princess had never been but she was finally tall enough to go on everything.  It was a sort of kind of in leiu of a birthday party treat that I let her invite a friend – and her brother invite a friend – and we headed to Sandusky, Ohio for a day at Cedar Point.   

     In the days before, we had gone on the park’s website and looked at the many point-of-view videos of their rollercoasters.  You know them.  The little videos that were taken from the front of the coaster’s car??  The Princess was worried.  Plenty worried.  She wanted to know if there were any just …’regular’….rides.  We left very early in the morning to fill up the gas tank.  The ATM at the bank was not working.  The first gas station would not allow me to use my credt card.  The second had no power at all.  I borrowed some of the spending money cash, filled up the gas tank and we were off.   The kids slept most of the way.  ‘Gladys’ – our sometimes irritating GPS voice – guided us safely along our way.  It was 10:12 when we arrived.  The car had barely come to a stop when the boys were out the door and RUNNING toward the gates.  They SAID they had to go to the bathroom.  Riiiight.  I didn’t see them again until 3:30 in the afternoon.

      The girls, on the other hand, managed to contain their excitement just a little.  They walked quickly ahead of me and waited until I finally let them go.  Hang together.  Keep in touch.  And they were gone.  Their first ride?  The Raptor….a twisty inverted, outside looping coaster that travels 57 mph in 2 minutes and 16 seconds. It’s one of the longer lasting coasters in the park. 

   I met up with them shortly after.  They had downed a HUGE Icee slush and were off to another coaster.  The ‘point of view’ videos??  Totally forgotten.  They were on their way to totally experience every single thrill ride in the place.

    Cell phones are wonderful things when you are in a place like this with teenagers.  As I wandered through shops and sat through shows, I kept up with them via text messges and occasionals calls.  His were short and sweet.

   “Where are you?’   ‘In line.”

    “For a coaster?”   ‘Yup’

     “Which one?”   “Don’t know.”

     “Having fun?” “‘Yup.”

     I met the girls for lunch and listened as they detailed everything they had been on….every twisty turn and upside down adventure.  They were horrified at the cost of their lunch.  They rode the train with me to the back of the park.  One of them upchucked every bit of the expensive burger and fries as we got off.   A nice slow, rattling train ride.  Go figure.  Cedar point Hunt party 077And then we were on to the water rides.  And the swings.  And the water rides again.  And again. And again. 

     Snake River Falls.  

     Thunder Canyon. 

     Sky Hawk. 

   It was a circle.  Off one and onto another.  I finally left them and wandered through the Frontier Village shops.   

     Then I got a call from the boys.  When were we going to leave?  They had done everything they wanted.  They weren’t interested in getting….wet.  I told them to play some games or get something to eat.  The girls weren’t ready.  I called the girls to say that the lines for the coasters in the front were rather short so they should probably start making their way forward.  I found a bench and waited for the four of them to….collide or something.

    I saw the boys first.  They saw me too and came running toward me with the biggest stuffed gorillas I have  ever seen.  I mean huge.  I have asked several times since but I am still not sure what they had to do to win them.  All I could think of was HOW are we going to get them home??? 

     And they were very ready to go.  But the girls weren’t.  So they sat and waited. 

     Moved to another ride and waited. 

    Carried the gorillas with them, sat down on them and….waited.  Cedar point Hunt party 082

All the while contemplating different ideas as to how to fit their prizes into this:Vue 

     Four rollercoasters lines later and we were on our way. 

     Now, we drove down in my zippy little car…..four teenagers and me.  Three in the back and one in the front.  Not a lot of wiggle room in there.

     We managed to stuff one gorilla into the back of the car.  After several attempts to get the second one in as well, they finally pulled it into the back seat on top of them.   Smashed up against them.  And I pulled out of the Cedar Point parking lot at approximately 5:30 pm, unable to see out the back window with three teenagers in the back seat unable to move or wiggle or…..breathe.  Heh.  And we had a two and a half hour drive ahead of us. Soooooo….we went in search of a Home Depot….or a hardware…….and found a CVS Pharmacy.

    Too many dollars later, armed with one package of bungee cords  and two very small rolls of duct tape, a rain poncho, two cans of Green Tea with Gingseng and Honey, two Gatorades, an interesting looking paperback novel and a couple of candy bars, we were wrapping and taping and bungee cording the second monkey to the top of the car. 

Cedar point Hunt party 084   Cedar point Hunt party 088






     And then we were back on the road.   It was trial and error for the first couple of miles.  The arms started flapping.  The Princess grabbed them through the sunroof and hung on for dear life until we could stop.  We devised a ‘rope’ of sorts from plastic CVS bags to tie them together.  They continued to flap.  At the next stop we used the rest of the duct tape to fasten the arms together and make a rope to hold  on to them through the sun roof. 

  Now I am the first to admit that I watch too much legal eagle television.  All I could envision as I was driving down the Ohio turnpike….and two other expressways…and numerous side roads as we made our way home like thisCedar point Hunt party 092…..

 …..was a bungee cord snapping….the gorilla  flying off into the windshield of another car or truck….and me….in a police car muttering the words ‘negligent homicide.’

    My head and my hands were sweating the entire way.

   We stopped to check our bungees at every service plaza and rest stop between Sandusky and home.  And at a couple of gas stations too. 

AND  I was driving 10 miles UNDER the posted speed limit the entire way because I knew cars and trucks would pass us and not be cruising along behind us. 

    Along the way we were getting ‘looks’….and thumbs ups….and pointing fingers and laughs….as cars sped by.  And we totally made the work day of the attendant at the turn pike exit when she took our money.  Her ‘oh MY!’ when she noticed the gorilla on top of my car was hilarious.  SHE would have a tale to share about HER job.

      Even though we struggled so much with the durn things I really had NO idea how big they  actually were until the Prince’s friend had his sitting on the porch waiting for his mother to answer the door.   Or when the Prince was trying to fit his into OUR front door.

     They are HUGE.

     And I am not sure what they plan to do with them.  The Prince’s actually takes up about a quarter of the remaining floor space in his bedroom.  But after this trip, I am never going to Cedar Point again in anything smaller than a van.  Preferably someone else’s.  And I am definitely planning to make sure the gorilla in OUR house will be an invited guest at the Prince’s wedding some day.