Thank you, thank you for all your wonderful, reasonable advice about traveling with a baby. I will report back!
In the meantime, I feel like I have to confess something. Two things, really.
You know, those things that you keep replaying in your head, over and over, ad infinitum, despite the fact that no matter how much perseverating you do, you cannot change the past? That’s what I’m talking about. I am hoping that by writing about these things here, I will be able to stop Groundhog’s Daying them in my brain.
Listen. I try to live my life according to the principle of Don’t Be an A-Hole. Really, I do. I mean, I have bad days like anybody. And sometimes I pretend not to see the person in the lane next to me who wants really badly to get into my lane just because I am grouchy or in a hurry or whatever. But MAINLY, for the MAJORITY of the time, I try to be Nice and Fair and Not an A-Hole.
I am trying to get away from cursing, so let’s take the next step and change “A-Hole” to “Jerk Face.”
It is hardest, for me, to remain a non-jerk face whilst driving. Because it seems, some days, that EVERYONE is hell bent on not only being a jerk face, but on being the jerkiest jerk face there ever was. Like there’s some big cash prize for jerk-facery that I’m not aware of, and everyone around me is competing.
One of the things that drives me absolutely bonkers is texting while driving. I just CANNOT. It can wait. Seriously. And if it CAN’T? Pull over and give it your full attention.
Let me also add: Ever since Carla arrived on the scene, I have been extra anxious while driving. At any second someone could veer into us and… well, that thought process leads only to tears, so let’s stop right there and just say: I am super nervous driving these days. Other drivers scare me to death. This is not an excuse for my jerk face behavior, but I hope it does give you some background.
So the other day, I was driving home from work and the van in front of me was being captained by a truly terrible driver. Drifting left into the median, and then suddenly swerving back into the lane. Slowing down waaaaaay before an intersection, and then suddenly speeding through a red light. Just terrible.
Somehow, I was behind this person for most of my commute – which takes place entirely on city streets. Two lanes of traffic in each direction with a turn lane/demarcated-by-lines-in-the-pavement median in the middle. I decided I needed to get far, far away from this person. Luckily, the driver was going 25 miles per hour in a 35 zone (and doing so IN THE MEDIAN for blocks and blocks – I am not exaggerating), so it was easy for me to get into the right of the two lanes and get away.
But. Then we got stopped at a red light at the same time. And I looked over at the driver, just out of curiosity, and – sure enough! – she was TEXTING. Had her smartphone plugged into the car charger, holding it up to her face, and concentrating very hard on whatever critically important thing was happening on the screen.
The light turned green, and I left her behind. Because she was so caught up in her phone that she didn’t notice the light change. I peeked at her in my rearview mirror, and I was half a block away by the time she started. As soon as she noticed that she was sitting at a green light, she ZOOMED forward. And caught up to me at the next red light. So I looked over at her, very pointedly, and when she felt my laser gaze burning into her skull and looked up, I mouthed at her: “STOP TEXTING” and made the international hand gesture for texting.
She looked very surprised, and shook her head vigorously and mouthed “I’M NOT!” but the light was green so I drove off.
My heart was pounding the entire rest of the way to pick up Carla. What had I done? I am not a confrontational person. And this was a STRANGER. That I had chided for doing something that… I honestly didn’t know FOR SURE she was doing!
I still feel like a jerk face. Who am I to judge this woman? She was a grandmotherly type – in her 50s or 60s – and who knows what was going on? Maybe she WASN’T texting and was just a very terrible driver – and I’d seen her just when she picked up her phone at a red light (and who hasn’t done that? I have.). Or maybe she was talking on the phone rather than typing on it (its own form of distraction, but I do it all the time so: glass houses). Or maybe she was having a terrible day and was distracted and not driving her best. Or or or. I DON’T KNOW HER LIFE. And yet I SCOLDED her.
I wish I could apologize to her. Man, how am I supposed to raise Carla to be a non-jerk face when I can’t even lead by example?
So I arrived at Carla’s daycare, feeling like a jerk face to the max, and tried to calm down.
Carla was there, happy as a clam, playing with her buddies. And I collected her car seat and her coat and sat down at the edge of the playmat to perform the acrobatics that is dressing her and putting her IN the car seat.
One of the other parents was there to pick up his son. He has a baby, like Carla, and he also has a daughter who must be four or five. He was putting the baby into a snowsuit and stuffing him into a car seat – a real feat of engineering, as his baby is at least twice Carla’s size.
The daughter came over to me – danced over to me, more like it; I can’t WAIT for Carla to be that age – and asked what I was doing.
“Putting my baby in her coat,” I responded.
“It’s cold outside, so she needs a coat to keep her warm.”
“My daddy is putting MY baby in a coat, too!” she informed me.
“I see!” I said, stuffing a protesting Carla into her car seat.
“Where’s YOUR coat?” I asked her. “It’s cold outside! You need a coat, too!”
I said it because it was part of the conversation, and she wasn’t wearing a coat. Not because I am the coat police. And I know her dad heard me, because he was in the process of hoisting the baby-clad-in-car seat into the air while simultaneously grabbing his daughter’s hand and gently nudging her out the door.
Out the door and into the cold air. Without the little girl wearing a coat.
Which – whatever! I don’t know the story behind the coat! Maybe she had a huge temper tantrum when he tried to put a coat on her and it wasn’t worth the fight! Maybe she was wearing the coat and spilled raspberry jam all over it! Maybe the coat was in the car! Who KNOWS? He’s a good dad, and his kids are happy and healthy – I see them most days of the week – and his car (probably already WARM from his commute) was ten feet from the daycare doors at most and I don’t CARE about the coat! I don’t! Coat shmoat!
But I felt like an instant – though accidental, this time – jerk face because I think my “you need a coat too!” came across as judgmental and scoldy and directed at the father. When really I was just carrying on a conversation with his daughter.
Sometimes I think I should be banned from interacting with other people.