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Monday, February 2, 2015

Retracting the Bird

There are a lot of things that you have to change about yourself when you become a parent. Rocket science, this statement is not. Everyone tells you, "Having a kid changes EVERYTHING". Yeah, duh. I sort of figured that the act of carrying and giving birth to another person, and then ensuring they are loved, fed, clothed, well-behaved, intelligent and nurtured might gently ruffle my regularly scheduled Saturday nights. What ceases to amaze me, though, are how many of the little things that change that I somehow didn't expect. I'm not talking about sleeping in or dirty diapers or temper tantrums. These are all changes that any reasonable person who had adequately thought this parenting thing through would and should expect to experience. And if you didn't, please drop your baby off at my house on your way out of the country. And then I'll find a good home for them. Still one and done.

I'm talking about driving.  

If you know me, you know I like to do the driving.  Maybe it's a control thing. Maybe I just like to drive. I don't know. The point is, it's always been me behind the wheel getting my peeps from point A to point B. Seat belt on, tunes pumping, rockin' my shades, let's roll.  

However, now that I'm a mommy, I can't do ALL of the things I used to do on the road in my, let's call them, non-parental years. Things like...

Loud and unabashed cursing.  
The amount of idiot drivers doesn't actually decrease when you become a parent. In fact, the number and proximity of idiot drivers and your parental status do not correlate in the slightest. Which means, the amount of times that you will feel the urge to lob out loud obscenities at those drivers will probably not decrease either. B.D. (Before Dallas), I foggily recall yelling the occasional "What the f@*%, man?" after being cut off or a "Move your a$$, douche!" at a super slow highway merger. Because there is no damn excuse for merging onto the highway at 35MPH. Just saying. However, the last thing you want is to hear those same naughty words hurling from the backseat out of the mouth of your 2-year-old. "Move your a$$, douche" is not a sentence I would like to see scribbled on my son's daycare pickup paper. And since two-year-olds are basically like massively large parrots, I have now learned to repress (or whisper, as the case may be), my F-bombs. I've gotta say, it's making me feel like I'm growing as a human being. Except when I'm alone in the car. In that case, all bets are off. So much for sustained maturity.

Flipping off other drivers.
OK, so not the classiest move. But I'll admit that I used to do it...and with high enthusiasm. And whether I was delivering my bird neck and neck through the driver-side window or fiercely brandishing it from behind in hopes they were seeing it through their rear-view, it was always a satisfying display of self-expression. Nowadays, though, giving the bird feels a tad gratuitous and overly dramatic. Plus, it just feels a bit dated. So, until I can invent a new hand gesture to wave at all drivers who wrong me, get it universally recognized and then begin using it regularly, I'll be retracting my bird. 

Break checking tailgaters.
This is just plain dangerous, precious cargo in tow or not. Along with egregious swearing, this was probably my favorite defensive driving jam circa 2001. I remember thinking to myself (OK, saying out loud), "Oh, you want to ride my a$$? Watch me tap my breaks and then let's see what happens..." And then I would do it...going 80MPH...in the fast lane...on the freeway (FYI, us California natives call them freeways). I often wonder how I am still alive. To add to the crazy, I used to harbor this weird, and now no longer secret, fantasy where my break checking would actually result in getting hit, at which point I would exit my vehicle, start clapping obnoxiously and then yell directly in his or her face, "Pay me, b@#*%!" in my best Dave Chappelle voice. I know that's terrible. Don't judge me. Instead, feel better knowing that at this time in my life and with a child, break checking is an absolute no-go.

Following people.
I've shown you enough of my pre-kid crazy. Um yeah, I never did this...........

I credit my change in driving behavior to three main things: a concern for personal safety, an attempt to set the right example for my boy (particularly to avoid public embarrassment - I'd rather he not blast the finger at some elderly woman in the grocery store) and the general mellowing that comes with age. And honestly, there are way too many cuckoo nut jobs out there to risk doing any of these things. It's highly scary to think how little I valued my own safety B.D. More proof that my little bean is making me a better person after all. While asking me to fix his headphones and pass him back munchkins as I merge onto the highway.   

Stay sane and drive carefully!


  1. I laughed out loud so many times reading this! So true! Don't retract the bird, though! It's better than the cussing, since your kids need to have really good control of muscles and fine motor skills to mimic that!!!
    The tailgating is my favorite paragraph. I've fantasized about that too! So funny, great post!

  2. This is so me! This post had me in tears! Hysterical!