Saturday, January 16, 2010

Distracted Driving

Considering the number of distractions that I deal with every time I drive somewhere with Zoe perched in her booster seat, the fact that I never crash into anything is a complete miracle. I am constantly telling her, on a daily basis, that: "No, I cannot look at the funny dance/face/hand gesture you are making. Yes, I'm sure you are really thirsty/hungry/hot/scratchy, but I can't help you right now, because I am driving."

If I were to be more honest, I would tell her that we are on the freeway, I am maneuvering a ginormous blue minivan traveling at approximately 70 mph, and would like to avoid careening into slow-moving Buicks and a bunch of assholes that think their phone conversations are more important than their driving skills. So unless she wants her booster seat to be fastened to the roof rack, her hyena-like shrieks, top-of-the-lung singing, banshee screams, and spontaneous wails are strongly discouraged.

If Doug is in the car, which is usually just on the weekends, she seems to magically acquire self-control because the yelling is definitely less frequent and at a lower volume. On Thursday afternoon, though, she was kind of caught off guard, because instead of enjoying the peace and quiet of his office, he was in the car with us.

We were headed to tennis, and within three minutes she let out a completely unexpected, high decibel, man-my-life-is-great "Whooooyeaaaahhwoooo!"

"Zoe. That is about 800 times too loud. Please don't yell again." I said this in my low-decibel boring mom voice, because I didn't think Doug would appreciate me screaming "Oh my holy crap! Why are you shrieking? Don't do that again!" while he was in the passenger seat.

Sure enough, she didn't listen to me, and let out another "Whooooo-hoooo!"

At this point, Doug said, "Um, Zoe, knock it off. That's way too loud. You can't yell like that while mom is trying to drive. It's pretty distracting."

"Oh. Sorry. Sorry mom. Are you mad? Huh? Are you? Are you mad? I'm sorry. Are you mad?" She couldn't stop chanting, and I visualized loose springs bouncing around in her brain.

"No. I'm not mad. But I am trying to drive. So sit quietly." Nothing like smooth sailing through the first five minutes of a 20-minute car trip.

Two miles later, she started sniffing. And snorting. And snotting. And rubbing her nose with enough force that I thought she was going to shove it out the back of her head. I finally suggested that maybe Zach could get her a kleenex, to which she replied: "No. You can get it mom. Get me a kleenex!"

"She's driving, Zoe. I'll get it!" Zach said, as he fetched a kleenex from one of the 18 storage compartments in my van.

After he handed it to her, she proceeded to blow. And blow. And blow some more. And sniff. And blow. And snort. Through this snot shower, I tried to focus on the road instead of thinking about the boogers that were potentially landing in the back of my hair.

When she finally finished the sinus irrigation, I heard her say, "Okay, I'm done. Here mom." and I could peripherally see her reaching forward in an attempt to hand me her snot-filled kleenex.

"Uh, gross Zoe. She is not going to grab that. Just put it in your cup holder," Zach said, obviously not wanting me to become distracted by sticking my finger in a glob of snot, sending the van careening off of an overpass.

"Oh, that's a good idea! I might need it again later." Zoe said, while tucking the kleenex that was now 20 times its original weight into her cup holder.

Maybe it's because she had kleenex residue in her mouth, but three miles later she decided that she absolutely, definitely needed a piece of gum. Zach looked in storage compartment number two and found a pack of Trident that must have been put there by a caveman. The wrappers were cemented on, and I had no recollection of when I'd even purchased a pack of Trident. After she struggled and complained about the "stupid wrapper," I managed to avoid a complete meltdown by fetching a different pack from storage compartment number three, but unfortunately there was only one piece left.

Zach, always the nice big brother, chewed on a piece of Trident/wrapper and let her have the other piece. As I continued to navigate rush hour traffic, she then started saying: "Here mom! Here's the empty pack of gum! Can you grab it? Here it is! I'm handing it to you!"

Turning around for the 12th time within as many miles, Doug said, "What the heck, Zoe! Just put the pack in your cup holder next to the snot kleenex! You cannot be this distracting while mom is trying to drive! Stop being so naughty!"

"Oh, sorry. Sorry mom. Are you mad? Are you? I'm sorry."

And that's when I pulled into a parking spot, switched off the ignition, hopped out of the car, and flipped the mental switch that allows me to be aware of the fact that I do, in fact, have a talk box/distraction queen/daughter named Zoe.

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