For 20 years I have driven my four children crazy, and to school. The early morning commutes to educational institutions all began when my oldest started kindergarten and it has continued to this day with my youngest in the sixth grade. That’s a lot of drop-offs behind me with several hundred more still on the horizon.
I have the responsibility — meaning, of course, the privilege — to do this at least until Grace is 16, so we’ve got four more glorious, bonding years ahead. That’s a lot of time to keep following along behind minivans and SUVs. That’s a lot of opportunity to impart words of wisdom to a member of the younger generation just before she leaps out hoping no one has noticed her mother is in the car and has a voice.
We usually listen to the radio on the 10-minute drive to Grace’s school, continually adjusting the volume — she turns it up on the console knob and I click it down on the conveniently placed steering wheel button. I raise my eyebrows. She lowers hers. Most days we chatter over the music — most days. Occasionally, though, if one of us has not slept well the night before, the only noise inside the car is from the overly caffeinated DJs playing today’s top hits.
But we do have sound…right up until the moment I steer into the school’s circular drive. She always turns the radio off as we pull alongside teachers who wave cars forward before drivers stop and spill out kids toting backpacks half their size.
This past Friday was a DJ-day. Entering the drive, Grace stared straight ahead and spoke, “Don’t embarrass me today.”
Surely she was not talking to me.
“Don’t shout that you love me when I get out like you did yesterday.”
I guess she was talking to me.
“I didn’t shout,” I claimed.
“Yes, you did and everyone looked at me.”
I scanned the sidewalk where kids trudged along like zombies toward the school’s front door. I doubted any of them were awake enough to notice anything happening outside of their own heads before the first bell.
“That’s not true,” I refuted.
“It is,” she said, “when I’m the victim.” She abruptly opened the door and swung her legs out.
I laughed. Loud. She turned and scowled.
The door closed and off she went in a blur, away from the car and my noise, a victim of her mother’s love.
— Lisa Marlin
Lisa Marlin is the mother of four children ranging in age from 27-14. “Don’t embarrass me!” is a common plea of her kids and yet, surprisingly, when their antics make print, they’re the first to ask for additional copies! Her work has been featured in The Denver Post, The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Child Magazine and Writer’s Digest Magazine; the latter was as a contest winner for an essay she penned on her lifelong addiction to words. She blogs at www.lisamarlin.com. Find her on Twitter at lisa_marlin.