14 November 2007

Dumb Things Other Parents Do, Part I

Most of the crap I see people do is not worthy of the time it takes to write it down. Sometimes though, they're just so wrong on so many levels I can't help myself. I decided to start a series of stories on the topic. This is, after all, supposed to be a "guide". Consider the tales retold here the "do not" picture in your handbook of parenthood.

Last night as the girls and I were leaving the mall I spotted a large white Ford Expedition parked 2 spots past The DaddyBus. Initially it only stood out because it was parked in a spot marked "Compact Cars Only". Before you start calling me names, understand that if the story ended there it would not have been something I ever spoke or wrote about. I don't equate these spots with those reserved for disabled people, mothers with infants, etc. It makes you a little bit of a jerk to park your Expedition there, but if you park it in the mothers spot and you don't have an infant in the car you're a piece of scum. Clear? Ok, so as I loaded the 25-pound box of modeling clay we bought for Avery's class project into the trunk (you can look forward to that story, I'm sure it will be a good one) the big Expedition thundered to life and started to inch backwards out of the spot. I say inch because every 3 or 4 seconds the 3-ton behemoth would lurch to a stop, its driver clearly struggling to maneuver out of the cramped parking spot. And then it hit me.

There was a 15-year-old girl driving this thing!

I stood and watched for what seemed like ten minutes as the girl's mom sat in the passenger seat on her cell phone, completely oblivious to the peril her daughter was subjecting everyone within a quarter mile to. The vehicle continued its lurching retreat out of the parking spot until it nearly ran over a curb behind it. The girl put the truck into drive and started to heave the steering wheel to the right, the power steering pump wailing and squealing, straining to turn the beast. As she inched toward the end of the row of parking spots, I watched her clumsily reach with her right hand over to turn on the turn signal. At this point she was at least 8 feet into the middle of the intersection, waiting most impatiently for the pedestrians and crossing traffic to clear her intended path. That path eventually led her halfway into the loading dock of the Bass Pro Shop before she got the truck into the proper lane and straightened out. It was amazing that no innocent passersby or trees were killed in the making of this story.

What was this mom thinking? How good can her insurance possibly be? And how can she sleep at night knowing that she's allowing another teenager to get behind the wheel with no sense of responsibility or right vs. wrong? A) Why did she allow the kid to park in that spot in the first place (or had mom driven to the mall and pulled that sweet move). B) How could she not be scared for the truck given the teen's obvious lack of experience? C) What could she possibly be talking about on the phone that was more important?

I know my oldest kid is only 7, and for me to say that I'll be more on top of things when she's a teenager than this mom was is purely speculative. But at least I've seen the do not picture now, and it'll haunt me until long after my kids have learned to drive.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you taught the girls to drive!!! My guess is...your list of dumb things will be longer than the list of good things you witness..just a hunch! Hugs to all.

Carolyn said...

hilarious. reminds me of when you were teaching me to drive a standard, I believe it was on the teal camaro (I shutter to think we had that car in that color) and we got to a hill and I stalled so many times I was crying and you were yelling at me to LET GO OF THE CLUTCH AND GIVE IT SOME GAS!!!!!!!!!
but I was of age to be driving...