Category Archives: driving

Backseat Driver

My husband and I are both Geographers.  By schooling and by hobby.  We both have undergraduate and graduate degrees in Geography.  We like maps, especially old maps, and we have framed maps hanging on many of the walls in our home.  We have more than one globe, and issues of National Geographic abound.  We have road atlases in our car, and folded up maps in the glove compartment.  And the irony of this is that none of those things, of course, ever stop us from getting lost.

And our son seems to be following, to some degree, in our footsteps.  Or in this case, our tire tracks…

You see, I was driving Snags to preschool one recent morning when he pulled one of our many road atlases out from the door compartment in the car where we store them.  From his position in the backseat of the car he asked, “Mom, what does ‘S’ stand for?”  I had to think about this for a moment.  Then I realized that he must be looking at the north arrow in the atlas so I responded, “Um…South.”  To which my backseat driver announced, “Okay.  We’re going to go south out of the garage and down the driveway. Then we are going to turn west up the street.” 

And now you must be wondering, if I just taught him ‘S’ stood for south, where did he learn about west? Well, from Curtis, Kimee, Karla, Shaun, and Jenn on Hi-5, of course!  You don’t think professional geographers like my husband and I would teach this kind stuff to a child do you? Because we didn’t.  We don’t have the time.  North, south, east and west are on a whole other directional plane from “Go UP to your room!” or “Sit DOWN, you know better than to stand on the table!” 

Anyway, think about this… Snags was holding that atlas flat on his lap.  In that position, the north arrow on the page would point straight ahead and north would always be in front of us.  If we back up, go in reverse to get out of the garage and down the driveway, we must be headed south.  Because as he sees it, the north arrow is pointing forward, and south is pointing behind us.

And so naturally, if we turn left off of our street we will be heading west, and conversely, if we turn right, we’ll be headed east.  And mostly this is correct.  But kids don’t understand that you need to take into account your current position when you are reading a map, and THAT makes all the difference.

As I continued driving toward preschool my son announced, roughly every 7 seconds, that we were “…going north… still going north… still going north… still. going. north.  Still going north, mom…” 

I found myself driving a little faster, trying to get to the place where we had to turn.  Because, I figured, at least then he could stop saying “still going north…” 

I mean, I felt like I was stuck in that orange-banana knock knock joke.  You know it right? 

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana who?
Knock. Knock.
Who’s there? 
Banana who?

And just when you are about to take out your own eardrums with the stiff end of a banana peel after saying “Banana who?” for the 432nd time, the joke changes and they say “Orange” and you say, “Orange who?” and the joke teller says: “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” Yes, I know…  Ha. Ha. Very funny.  Not.

Finally, we had a turn approaching and the voice from the back seat declared “We’re going to turn east.”  I thought then I would just test my theory about my son’s directional competency and so I asked him, “How do you know that?” and he replied, pointing out the window, “Because my school is over there; see EAST!” 

“Okay,” I said.  “Is that right or left?” I asked him.

“Right!” he said.  And he was correct, he was pointing to the right.

Except… right wasn’t east.  On that point he was wrong.  And backing down our driveway isn’t south.  But he’s only 5.  I think this method of learning about direction is just fine for right now.  My husband tends to disagree and thinks I should correct Snags, tell him the actual direction we are traveling.  But understanding that takes more skill than I think a five year old possesses.  It requires the ability to read a map for one.  It requires the ability to READ as another. 

Besides, even possessing those very important skills of literacy and map reading, my husband still manages to get us lost when he’s driving somewhere.

So for now anyway, I’m content to keep on heading north.  You know, as long as I can turn once in a while.



Filed under direction, driving, geography, humor, life, maps

Faster Than A…

How fast is fast?  Maybe it depends what you’re measuring.  Or who you’re asking.

Surely, at some point, you’ve had a passenger in your car tell you to “SLOW DOWN! You’re driving too fast!” 

No?  Okay, maybe it’s just me.  But then I AM used to driving on the interstate everyday and I’m just trying to keep up with the rest of the traffic, officer.  And here’s a little hint I learned from a bus driver.  Sometimes, the slow lanes, especially the ones that merge, actually move way faster than the far left lane, the one everyone dubs “the fast lane”.  Try it sometime.  Only, not on MY highway, okay?  I don’t want EVERYONE to know my secrets.

But I digress, because this isn’t about traffic.  It’s about my son’s perception of how to measure the passing of time, and the quickness with which events can take place.  We were in the car, and I was driving him to school (okay, so maybe this is about traffic) and he was, as usual, talking at me about his current favorite Disney characters from Beauty and the Beast (and yes, I did mean to say “at me”). 

Apparently, the Beast and Belle, along with Cogsworth and Lumiere, (if you’re unclear on whose these characters are, I suggest you rent the movie) were up to some kind of shenanigans in my son’s bedroom (and I apologize here for not giving more details, but sometimes I have to tune out from his stories, especially when I’m driving).  If you’re a parent, his teacher, a neighbor, or a relative who’s spent any time with the kid, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

But anyway, apparently, whatever these characters were up to, they did it all very fast.  “BAM! Fast like that!”  “Faster,” my son proclaimed, “than you can count to 22!  Faster than you can cook!”

Faster than I can cook? “Faster than I can cook what?” I wondered.  Are we talking a seven course meal or Kraft Dinner? Am I watching a pot boil or can I use the microwave?  Because it makes a difference here, it really does.

And so I timed myself.  I can count to 22, speaking at a moderately fast pace, but still slowly enough to enunciate correctly, in 12 seconds.  That’s pretty fast, I think.  Speaking even faster, still believing  most people would be able to understand me, I can count to 22 in a mere 7 seconds.  That’s a whole 5 seconds faster!

You’re not impressed.  I can tell.  But look, I never claimed to be the speed talk guy who reads the fine print on television commercials.  That guy?  Now he’s fast!

Back to my original point though.  Whatever those characters were up to, if it took them somewhere in the range of 7 to 12 seconds to pull it off, that’s pretty good.  I think it’s fast enough to avoid getting caught in the act by most folks.  But obviously, not fast enough to get by my son.  Because obviously, he saw them do this, and not only that, he timed them!  After all, he described to me a way to measure their quickness!  If he was a super hero, maybe he’d be “Stopwatch Boy – The Kid That Never Misses a Trick!”.

Anyway, I guess my real point is  (and no, I didn’t see this coming either. I thought this was going to lead back to traffic), with kids that quick (and yes, all children are so quick that NOTHING gets by them), it explains why parents these days have so little oppurtunity for intimacy.  It’s not like we can grab a quickie, because well, we just aren’t THAT fast.  


Filed under Beauty and the Beast, driving, humor, kids, parenting, quickie, sex, time