Today, a man went home to his wife and kids and told them about the terrible thing he saw on the highway. About the van that pulled out of a gas station with it’s sliding door wide open. About the baby in the car seat, staring bright-eyed out the open door. About the bright red slurpee in his hands – who gives a 1.5 year old a Slurpee? – and about the way he honked and honked, and frantically waved, and honked some more before the female driver realized he was honking at her, and finally pulled over.
That man will tell his story, and people will shake their heads in disbelief. How do you leave a van door wide open? How do you not notice something like that? What kind of a terrible mother does such a thing?
Well, me, obviously. I mean, who else, right? I already shared this list of awful things I’ve done and then in one single trip I outdid myself again. If the door wasn’t enough, about twenty minutes later my 3.5 year old informed me that he wasn’t actually buckled up, and he waited until we were on a stretch of highway with nowhere to pull over to tell me, so we had to drive a further five minutes before I could safely stop to strap him in.
Now I think I deserve to speak in my own defense before the jury reaches a verdict here, so let me explain what went down in case that helps a little in justifying my neglectful parenting.
We were on our third day of a trip to Kelowna, which is about a three hour drive from our hometown. My 3.5 year old M had had a lot of fun but also a bucket-load of tears. I’m not sure if he was over-stimulated, over-heated , over-tired or all three, but on several occasions he melted down completely, like inconsolable crying, nothing-I-could-do-to-help-him-tears-making-puddles-on-the-floor sobbing. I mean, we were at a kangaroo farm that morning with freakin’ BABY KANGAROOS (and wallabies, emus and capybaras, for what it’s worth), and I had to take the kids home because M could not stop crying after dropping his leaf in a stream and watching it float away. A leaf that, as he says, “I didn’t like so I dropped it in the water and it floated away but then I wanted it again.” We were there for twenty minutes, tops. Didn’t even get to see all the other animals that were there! (it’s a great place, though I was too distracted by the 3 year old’s waterworks to enjoy it this time around.)
Anyway, that’s just one example of about 3 times when he just lost it, poor guy. (But also, POOR MAMMA!!) It was just me with the kids as my husband had to work, so that only adds to my pain.
So you see, at the point where we were filling up at the gas station getting ready for our journey home, I was pretty tired. For 3 days I had been promising M a slushee and so as the gas tank was getting filled, I went around to his side of the car and unbuckled him, so that he could come in with me to choose his flavour. But he was eating an apple, and told me he wanted to stay in the car. I pressed him on this (I really didn’t want to bring back a slushee and deal with the repercussions of potentially choosing the wrong one), but he assured me he didn’t care what kind he got as long as it was pink.
This is obviously the point in the story where he got unbuckled.
I ran into the store, got a slushee for myself and for him. (his was yellow, by the way, with a tiny bit of red on top so that if he complained about the colour I could mix it in for him and make it pink. I’m not one to pander to a 3 year old except when he is in THE MOOD because I did not want to hear three hours of crying all the way home.) I also got an extra cup because the baby will scream bloody murder if we are eating or drinking something and he is not.
This is obviously the point in the story where the baby gets a red slurpee.
I scooped a little bit of M’s out of his cup into the empty cup, and then added water so that I could tell myself it was mostly water that the baby was drinking. This satisfied the little guy, and then I went around to the other side of the van to deliver M his drink. (he did not seem to care that it was yellow).
And this must be the point in the story where I leave the baby’s door open.
I’m not totally sure, to be honest, but probably? Maybe I gave him his slurpee and didn’t shut the door, went around the other side, then came back to the driver’s side and didn’t notice the door was open? Or, because we have automatic doors that close with the press of a button, I pressed the button and then hopped in the car, but the door started to close and then opened again? It does do that sometimes. (My neighbour will attest to this because, well, he has closed my van door at least 5 times after I’ve parked it, pressed the button, and walked away without looking back). Whatever the reasons, I was obviously not paying enough attention.
We pulled out of the gas station into 4 lanes of traffic, but all lanes were stopped at a red light so I knew my lane was totally clear. When I heard honking, I wondered briefly if it was at me, but was very certain there was no one around, so ignored it. When it continued I glanced around but nope, the only cars were two just joining the far left lane after turning in. When the honking remained persistent, I REALLY looked to see what this idiot was so mad abou…..oh shoot. He was waving at me, and as I was looking over my left shoulder at him, I realized I could see him really clearly through the wide open van door. I pulled into the next street and shut the door, and also confiscated the baby’s slurpee because now there was red liquid everywhere. (I knew it would happen but I was willing to take the risk in exchange for sweet, sweet silence).
Twenty minutes later M informed me that he was not strapped in, so we drove until I could safely stop and I buckled him in tight. (after a little 90k/hr highway driving – yikes!). FINALLY we were peacefully on our way home.
I probably shouldn’t take them anywhere for at least a few days, til I have gotten a bit more sleep and M is all back to his normal self. And if a man tells you a story about that time he saw a crazy lady driving with her van door wide open, you can tell him she is probably a terrible mother, but only sometimes.