There are simple moments throughout the day when I am filled with so much motherly joy that it actually makes me smile a true genuine smile. These moments are spontaneous and usually catch me off guard. It might be my oldest teaching the baby how to hold a fork or watching the two girls play beauty salon. Thankfully, these moments happen multiple times every single day. It makes parenting fun and fulfilling. It reassures me that I must be doing something right. God bless these moments because they are brief. In fact, they vanish as quickly as they arrive. Like when my baby took the fork that she just learned how to use and started jabbing it into the kitchen table. Or when the girls turn their beauty salon into a hair pulling fight. This daily emotional roller coaster has turned me into a very edgy person. Today was no exception.
I was sitting in the car waiting for Flynn to finish up with soccer practice. Maggie (2 yrs) was getting restless so I unbuckled her from her car seat and let her sit on my lap to do one of her favorite activities. Drive! She held the steering wheel and pretended she was driving. She thought she was full-grown. It was adorable. She eagerly waved to everyone walking by. She must have kissed me a hundred times in 10 minutes. Thanking me over and over again for the opportunity. It was a moment that made my heart smile. Let’s be honest, how many years can your child stand on your lap and be thrilled to drive while the car is in park? These are the moments that fly by and you wonder where the time went?
But as usual all good things must end. It wasn’t long and she got bored with the steering wheel. She needed more. She began pushing buttons. She jingled the keys. She turned the radio up full blast. She flipped on the windshield wipers and squealed with delight. Then she started jumping on me. I pleaded with her to act civilized but it seemed to fuel her inner beast . “Ouch! Maggie! Stop. Don’t touch that. What are you doing?” She slowly evolved from a cute little girl into a wild animal. I had no control. At one point she actually tried to step on my shoulders to escape through the sun roof. My car was a cage for an unbuckled toddler. Strangers were no longer waving. Instead they would stare and shake their heads in judgement. I was desperate to regain control but she was fast. I moved frantically fixing everything she messed up.
This child needed a 5 point restraint. I planned to buckle her into her car seat just as soon as I could catch her. Wait…what was that? I heard something. Did she dial my cell phone? Oh my! Who did she accidentally call? My heart sunk. I searched for my phone. It sounded like my phone was on speaker. I demanded silence so I could figure out what was happening. That’s when I heard it. A lady speaking in a slightly robotic gentle voice “calling emergency on Star now”. My brain slowly absorbed what was happening. The voice was not coming from my cell phone, it was coming from the speakers in my car. Maggie must have pressed the emergency ON STAR button.”
I panicked. I have never used that button. I don’t even know where the button is located or who it calls. All I know is that I was instructed to only push it for emergencies. How did my 2-year-old find it in 30 seconds? Then the voice chimed in again “Calling emergency On Star now” “No!” I yelled. I tried desperately to stop the call. “Um..cancel. Cancel that. No. Stop!” “Calling emergency” the monotone voice continued. I interrupted, “NOOOOOOOO! CANCEL!” I had no clue how to hang up so I yelled any word that I could think of that might stop the call. It was my last plea for help. “Cancel. Stop. No. Cancel call.” And just when I thought I would give up, the robotic On Star voice listened.
“On star canceled. Goodbye.” And then it hung up.
I looked up at the speaker, shocked that my random commands to cancel somehow worked. I could finally breathe. I’m not quite sure why I let crap like this stress me out to begin with. I think it’s because I wasn’t prepared. I’m sure I could have explained that my 2 year-old accidentally pressed the button but that didn’t change the fact that I was on edge and irritated about the whole situation. I really could have lived my life without that unnecessary stress.
I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Maggie wide-eyed. She was clueless about the stress that she was causing me. In fact, all she could think about was the last word she heard, “goodbye“. Why do 2 year-olds do that? They only hear the last thing you say and then they obsess about it? Suddenly she was fixated on the idea that we were going bye-bye.
Maggie: “We go bye-bye Mommy?”
Me: “No sweetie. You pushed a button and the voice said bye-bye. We have to wait for your brother.”
Maggie: (climbs into her car seat very willingly) “We going bye-bye with Fwin”
Me: “Good girl buckling up but we aren’t quite ready to go”
Maggie: “I buckle!”
Me: “That’s fabulous! Buckle every single one you can get your little hands on. There is nothing I love more than a restrained child.”
Maggie: “Otay Mama. I buckling”
I hear some clicks and she appears to know what she is doing.
Maggie:”All Done mommy. Maggie buckled.”
Me: “Mags! We can’t go right now, OK?”
Maggie: “No go bye-bye?” the bottom lip begins to quiver. “Mommy say bye-bye”
I try to distract her with lengthy dialog.
Me: “No, that’s where you are incorrect. Mommy did not say bye-bye. The On Star lady said bye-bye. You pressed a little button that you were not supposed to press while you were driving which caused all kinds of chaos and stress for me that I really could have done without. Do you remember pushing that button when you were driving?”
The word ‘driving” immediately stops her quivering lip and she perks up. Now she is fixated on driving again. Quickly she unbuckles from her car seat.
Maggie: “Maggie drive?”
Suddenly she is in my lap bouncing with excitement and she grabs the wheel to drive mommy’s car as if it’s her first time. I smile a genuine smile knowing all too well that the moment is brief.