Monday, July 29, 2013

Beware of the Distracted Minivan Mom

The garbage collectors are conspiring against me. 

Every Thursday night, Tyler rolls the trashcans out to the curb and parks them to the right of the driveway.  And every Friday morning, the garbage men empty the trashcans, and toss them haphazardly behind my minivan.  And then I swear they then pull around the corner to watch, because every Friday morning, I run over the trashcans.

With my van.

Every. Darn. Time.

Obviously, I don’t have a fancy car with those cool rearview camera features.  I drive a crap mobile van that my children have made their mission to stink up and destroy, and I have made my mission to drive into the ground.  I can’t even call it a Honda “Odyssey” anymore, because the little metal sign identifying it as such fell off a couple of years ago.  I think my van is embarrassed.

It’s not that I’m not paying attention, though.  If anything, I’m hyper-aware of any potential small children behind my reversing van, which is why I pull out super slow.  And probably why I run over the trashcans super slow.

Every. Darn. Time.

Stupid blind spot.

Let’s face it – I’m just not on the lookout for large, plastic trash receptacles when I’m driving my crap mobile van.  I used to be a good driver, but then I had four children.  Now I’m the distracted minivan mom weaving down the road whom the rest of you are trying to pass.

No, I don’t text and drive.  I rarely even talk on the phone and drive.  But what I do do is chunk fast food and Happy Meal toys at my children while hurtling down the highway at 65 mph.  Why?  BECAUSE THEY ARE HUNGRY AND THEY WILL DIE IF THEY DON’T EAT RIGHT NOW!!

Or I am going 33 mph on a 40 mph road because I’m busy hollering at the kids.  Usually because the girl pinched the boy who was looking at the other girl cross-eyed and the third girl started yelling and then all of the girls announced THEY WISH THEY DIDN’T HAVE A BABY BROTHER!!

Or I don’t hit the gas pedal the exact second the light turns green because I am trying to adjust the volume on the radio to just the right point so that it’s basically too loud for the tender-ears in the back, but too soft for the deaf kids in the front.  That way, EVERYONE IS UNHAPPY!!

So yes, I am the driver that the rest of you hate – and occasionally make rude gestures towards.

Fortunately, and by the grace of God, I have not had an accident.  Outside of the neighborhood.  Inside the neighborhood is a different story, though.  Of course, there are those darn trashcans. And… the mailboxes. 

Now, I’ve only hit three mailboxes.  And really, I only count two, since I hit my own twice.  The first time, I was pulling into the driveway at a weird angle because I was simultaneously distracted by the kids and trying to AVOID THE TRASHCANS.  And since I didn’t do enough damage to the crap mobile van that first time, I went back for a second round.  An estimated $1,500 second round.  (Look, the side door still opens.  It even closes sometimes.  I am NOT forking over $1,500.)

The other mailbox was totally not my fault.  Anyone will tell you that it sticks way out in the road.  Granted, I may have taken the curve a little fast because I was late getting the children to school, but that’s beside the point.  I hit the mailbox and knocked my right-side mirror clean off.  And because that wasn’t enough, I ran over it with my back right tire.  Yeah, that one we had to fix.

So trashcans.  Mailboxes.  Oh, and that concrete support-thingy in the parking garage.  But that time it was Tyler distracting me, not the kids.  He kept yelling (“Watch out!” I later discovered) and I turned to look at him.  Luckily, the mechanic hammered that dent out as a freebie.  After my third oil change, he told me he was tired of looking at it.

If only my garbage collectors were as kind as my mechanic.  Of course, collecting trash is kind of monotonous.  I’m probably their only source of weekly entertainment.  It’s kind of like I’m provided them a service.  I wonder if I can get any sort of discount for that?  I could really use the money for car repairs.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


There is no such thing as volume control in my house.  My children produce sound at two levels: ear-splitting and earth shattering, and there are NO mute buttons.  You want silence around here?  Check things out between 3:10-3:24 a.m.  (But no guarantees.)

The thing is, noise level isn’t necessarily a crisis indicator.  That’s just the way my kids communicate.

Need a snack?


See some furry critter in the backyard?


Sibling walks within twelve feet of your personal space?


And my personal favorite:


It doesn’t take a keen observer to realize that all the shouting is a product of genetics.  Just listen to their father.  You’ll usually hear variations of a few different themes, including “TURN OFF THE LIGHTS IN THE [KITCHEN, BATHROOM, BEDROOM, GARAGE]!!!”, “CLOSE THE [FRONT, BACK, GARAGE, CAR] DOOR!!!”, and “STOP HITTING YOUR [SISTER, BROTHER, FRIEND]!!!”  And my personal favorite:


The best is when Tyler and the children come together in one, ear-drum rupturing cacophony of noise.  Around here, we call it “Wrestling with Dad.”  Are they having fun? Is he killing them?  It’s hard to tell when he’s got four screaming children pinned to the floor in a combination of Krav Maga / jujitsu moves he learned from watching Saturday night UFC fights.  But since the kids always come back for more, I figure the screams are all happy ones.

Personally, I’ve learned to deal with the noise by slowly going deafer with each pregnancy.  No, really.  At first, I assumed that I inherited my progressive hearing loss from my father, a retired airline captain.  But it turns out he can’t hear anything thanks to decades of being around loud jets.  I just had four children. 

I like to think of it as God’ protection over me.  And them.

In the midst of my own noise complaints, I recently discovered that while I think my children are exceptionally loud, they think I’m pretty loud, too.  Perhaps it’s because I can’t hear my own voice anymore.  Or perhaps I made one or two genetic contributions of my own.  But it turns out that they can be equally as intolerant of my noise as I am of theirs.

Last night, in the midst of bedtime chaos, I decided to try and move a piece of furniture around downstairs.  After it crashed to floor, Ella shouted at me from her bedroom, “MOM, TRY TO BE QUIET!!  YOU SCARED THE SHEEP OUT OF ME!!!”

Wait.  What??

Fortunately, my unreliable ears were not playing tricks on me.  She really did say “sheep.” 

I still have yet to determine where exactly she heard the phrase that she so obviously misinterpreted.  I'm just glad she didn't hear it correctly.  Maybe all the noise around here can work in my favor.  Once in awhile.