Friday, September 9, 2011

Driven to Distraction- Toddler Style

This frightening scene took place yesterday in my car, on the way home from getting the kids' haircut.  The girls were admiring their rewards from the toy vending machines Kidz Cutz employs to lure kids and parents into their establishment. 

Elana- "Maisy, can I see that (cheap, plastic, worthless piece of) princess (junk)?"
Maisy- "No, it's mine."

Elana- "Please, I'll let you see the (hideously dazzling) princess sticker I got."

Maisy- "No."

Elana- "Then, can I just see the piece of paper it came with (so that I can admire all the other princess garbage that they offer)?"

Maisy- "No you can't, Elana!"

Elana- "Maisy, I hate you!"

Maisy- "No, you love me!"

Elana, knowing that she would get in trouble for hitting Maisy, decides to take off Maisy's left shoe that is encroaching on her space and throw it in the front passenger seat.

Maisy- "Wahhhhhhhh!!!  Elana took off my shoe!  Elana took off my shoe!  Put it back on me!"

Elana smiles, her mission accomplished.

Maisy- "I need my shoe!  Elana took it!"  (Insert extremely loud shrieking.)

Elana- "it's just a shoe, Maisy!"

Maisy- "Elana is looking at me!  Stop looking at me!  Don't look at me!  NOOOOO!"

Me, finally breaking my silence- "Girls, stop fighting.  Mommy is driving, and on the 101 and I can't get your shoe right now.  Maisy, you will have to wait.  Elana, leave your sister alone."

Maisy- "Why? Why?  Why? WHYYYYY?"

At this point Elana quietly smacks Maisy on the leg and touches her hair.

Maisy- "Elana HIT ME!!!!!  WAHHHHHH!"  Her stubby legs are now kicking the back of my seat. 

As my blood boiled and my face turned red I felt the sudden urge to slam on the brakes and instill a real sense of fear into the little terrors in the back seat.  However, I was on the freeway, with no shoulder room, and cars were passing me at 70 miles per hour.  I took one deep breath, let out a fierce "STOP" and made the critical decision to spend the rest of the drive ignoring any noise that originated from carseats. By the time I pulled into the garage, a year and a half had been shaved off my life.

It is no cliche to say that driving with children can be hazardous to your health.  In Britain, children have been voted the #1 distraction in cars, surpassing cell phone use and navigation guides.  According to the Daily Mail, the government study found that "95% of parents admitted a baby or child having a tantrum took their attention off the road and 8% of parents said they had caused an accident because their child had been crying."

A recent State Farm Insurance study actually contended that children were safer with the grandparents behind the wheel, than their own parents.  This may be due to numerous factors including-  today's grandparents are younger than they used to be, and that grandparents are more nervous, and so more cautious, when carting the precious cargo.  I believe the main reason to be that children behave their absolute worst in front of the parents, where they know the love is unconditional and permanent. 

In 2009 a lawyer from leading Manhattan law firm was arrested for kicking her 10 and 12-year old daughters out of the car after a fearsome battle between the sisters.  This did not happen in the shady streets of the Meat Packing District, but in a fashionable part of Scarsdale.  When the police were contacted by a good Samaritan that discovered the younger daughter, the mother was arrested and held overnight.  Personally, I think that the all-night separation from her bickering daughters may have been just what any mother would need.  This woman may have made the choice between booting her children from the car, or driving into the nearest telephone pole.  Sanity comes in many forms. 

Its not only that the small confines of the car create perfect breeding grounds for fighting children to torture their parents, but a moving vehicle provides plenty of opportunities for other types of misbehavior.  A quick poll of my mommy friends found that their toddlers have:
  • thrown food, balloons, streamers, jewelry, socks, and shoes out the window.
  • unbuckled their brother's carseat in a fit of rage.
  • requested (read demanded) the same song by Raffi (or Madonna) fifty times in a row.  
  • peed in the carseat, then become uncontrollably upset that they had to sit on the wet fabric.
  • throw up, spewed, vomited, heaved, and puked over every square inch of the backseat upholstery.
  • screamed so loudly and persistently that the mother's foot unintentionally stomped on the gas, resulting in expensive speeding tickets and online comedy traffic court.
According to, these are the do's and don't of driving with children.

Prepare in advance all snacks/drinks/backseat activities and have them readily accessible for the children.
Pick up dropped items.  Adopt the “you drop it, you lose it” attitude.
Pull over when things get out of control.
Mediate fights between the children while driving.
Stay focused.
Use your cell phone in your purse- the kids are enough distraction for one driver.

The most important thing to remember, is that while you are behind the wheel you are the driver, not the referee.  Good luck, we all need it!

1 comment:

  1. Did I ever tell you about the time I had my brand new car for 2 weeks and I was taking Jackson to school...just as we were pulling out of the driveway he was throwing a fit because he couldn't wear his cowboy hat and sit in his car seat. I turned around to yank the hat off his head just as I crashed into the plumber that had just pulled up to work on our house. Nice! Kids are SUCH a distraction! I think I could drive while facebooking, texting, and talking on the phone all at once (not that I would do this) and still not be as distracted as I am driving with my boys in the car and no phone. Oh, and Jason and I love the State Farm quote! :)