The longer I live and the more I’m around people it seems the more I find that bothers me about them. I’ve long ago accepted that I may not be meant to get along with people at large. As a parent I try very hard not to pass on my contempt for humanity to my children and find that with a few (more than a few if you ask my wife) exceptions I’ve been successful.
One of those exceptions seems to be when I’m driving on the road, you know, with humanity. Don’t get me wrong it’s nothing close to road rage or anything but I’m beyond baffled by the inconsiderate and completely oblivious way people operate motor vehicles. On semi-frequent occasions I’ll verbalize my discontent towards a fellow motorist in front of my children. Of course there are two immediate consequences for my tirades. First is the inner guilt and shame for the poor example I’ve just shown to my children. Second, my sweet loving wife looks at me with both shock and horror for the manner in which I’ve addressed another human while simultaneously looking like she wants to hurt me for the aforementioned poor example.
As my children grew older and began to speak something funny happened. Thankfully due to the more prominent role their mother plays in their lives they took to her disposition and became quasi-deputized bad word police.
I’ll never forget one time while driving on the freeway I was cut off by a woman on a cell phone who never even saw me. After spewing several kind words in her general direction my daughter spoke up from the back of the van saying, “Dad, we don’t say idiot. Mom, is freaking a bad word?” After absorbing a long wicked look from the woman I love I resolved to do better.
Still I’ve found it nearly impossible not to backslide periodically because of the aggravating nature of my relationship with stupid people. That leads me to my proud parenting moment of the day.
Let me say in my brief parenting career I’ve had many proud parenting moments. Whether it was when my first born child was just a year old and said “Son of a” when he fell backwards on his bum or when my daughter raised her hand during a Sunday School lesson on making good choices and announced to the entire primary that, and I quote, “My daddy says bad words…all the time.” When I mentioned doing a regular ‘Proud Parenting’ segment my wife suggested that I might have enough material for a bi-weekly installment. She’s so supportive.
Anywho, I was running errands with the kids and had multiple unpleasant run-ins with people of below average intelligence. First up was a winter visitor from the great state of Wisconsin who was unable to find the gas pedal and put me in the uncomfortable position of squeezing in on a yellow light. I may or may not have muttered something about people not native to our state which my son apparently overheard. When he questioned me about who I was referring to I explained that Foreigner was a 70’s rock band. He sat in confused silence pondering why a 70’s rock band had upset me and we moved on.
Next up we were approaching the store and this punk teenager with his hat on backwards was doing 50MPH in the parking lot. My son asked “Why is he driving so fast” to which I replied, “Because he’s an idiot.” My distain for that delinquent at that moment caused the words to bypass my parental filter which even in the best of times only operates at sixty percent.
We next found ourselves waiting in line behind a lady and her daughter at a Redbox dispenser. She allowed the youngster to peruse the child’s section at her leisure before eventually selecting the movie of her choice. Then this discourteous wretch browsed through the entire selection in the machine looking at several movie descriptions and even took a phone call when her cell phone rang. I bit my tongue and kept my cool even when after all that she failed to pick a movie. I was able to shake it off because we only had one more stop to go and then I could return to my sanctuary away from, well, everyone.
We drove to our final destination and pulled in to an open parking slot. I started to get my toddler out of his car seat while the other two exited the van on the other side. As they were opening the doors I spotted a white sedan in the other aisle cutting through the open spot between our van and the car on the other side of it just a foot away from my children who were opening their doors. I yelled at them to stop and only then did they finally see the car whizzing past their faces. They were frightened as was I. I walked around the car to supervise their safe exit as the sedan sped away, no doubt off to spoil somebody else’s day with his thoughtlessness. I kept my children close as we walked in silence towards the store when my sweet baby girl looked up at me with exasperation and said, shaking her head, “Two idiots in one day.” I smiled to myself put my arm around her as we continued towards the store and said “Sometimes that’s the way it goes.”