DRIVING WITH THEIR FEET
By Jennifer Rawlings
When my son Noah was little he loved to play bumper cars in his Little Tikes cozy coupe with the bright yellow roof and red doors. He would head down the driveway full blast into his brother Joshua who was busy tilling the cul-de-sac in his Little Tikes tractor. Joshua would cry and Noah would power the car back up the driveway with his extra-wide feet and attempt another tractor-coupe collision.
The two of them, only fifteen months apart, would play this toddler version of bumper cars for hours and hours. I was worried that they would get hurt, especially since Noah refused to wear any clothing for the first four years of his life. My pleas fell on dirty ears as each boy revved up their feet to power their plastic vehicles. Apparently young boys love collision.
Noah is now the fourth out of the five kids to have his driver’s license. Joshua bought his own red beat up pick truck with money he earned waiting tables last summer. Joshua named the truck “two faced” because it is pristine on side and dented and rusted on the other. A “two faced” truck with multiple mechanical disorder seems like a pretty good deal for $1500..
Noah on the other hand still asks to borrow my car. I hate this, and it’s not because my car is pristine or precious. My car has been making a squealing noise for a year; it has a trunk full of clothes that need to be dropped off at the Goodwill, and I never seem to find time to take it to the car wash. My car is functional at best.
Seeing your children back out of the driveway paves the road for the inevitable empty seat at the dinner table, and the bedroom that you paint and turn into an office. It’s a demarcation line between a child that depends on you for all the necessities of life, clothing, shelter, and chocolate chip cookies and a young man who, before you know it, will soon move into an apartment littered with pizza boxes and smokes.
I miss the smell of sand in my children’s hair, Christmas morning with young kids who still believe in Santa, and the Easter bunny. Even as a young mom the implausibility of selling my kids on a bunny that leaves baskets full of chocolate in the house and eggs you dyed the day before in the front yard was always a stretch. I never knew how to answer the question of a magical bunny, and how the bunny got in the house. So I left out specifics and just prayed they wouldn’t try and connect the “holiday trinity “ of Santa, the Easter bunny, and Jesus.
It’s easy to feel sentimental about the passage of time and watching our children grow. I usually snap out of this when I remember the temper tantrums in the mall when Noah would hide in the clothing racks; the sleepless nights spent cleaning up puke when all the kids got the stomach flu at the same time and none of them could grasp the concept of throwing up in the toilet, sink, or trashcan. I don’t miss the endless tears Joshua cried when I simply asked him to write his name on this homework, or the smell of rotten baby formula that overwhelmed my “mom-mobile” at the time.
As I handed Noah the key last night so he could go see his friends I reviewed with him the responsibilities of being an adult. I made him promise to be home on time, and then I secured his entrance into adulthood by asking him to stop by 7-11 and buy me a lottery ticket. I didn’t win the mega millions, but I definitely hit the jackpot with my kids.