I was driving home today. In front of me at a stop light I saw the following:
- A woman driving a car, with three kids that I could see jumping around in the back seat
- Not sure if there were any in the front seat
- Woman was on a cell phone and smoking a cigarette, so window was open
- Woman kept screaming at the kids and gesturing wildly for them to sit down and behave.
It brought to mind the phrase my father used to ensure stellar behavior on road trips. Understand, we had one car, a 1958 Chevy Station Wagon, and Dad drove that car to work every day. Mom and we kids walked everywhere we needed to go, be it grocery shopping, school, doctors, library, or whatever. So, getting to ride in the car was a big deal.
We six kids would pile in and off we would go. Most of these were trips of about an hour or so, going to visit my grandparents, but, we also had the annual vacation trip “The Pond House” in New Bedford, Mass.
For the first few minutes, all went well. The pecking
order had been defined at birth so there was never a squabble about seating position. It was simple…you got to chose your seat from those left available after the person one place higher in the pecking order had selected his/hers. So, generally there were three kids in the back seat and three in that cargo space, which is not as comfy, but from which vantage you could “attack” those in front without being seen.
So it was that we invariably had at least one episode of two or more kids getting angry and “misbehaving.” Those not involved in the immediate squabble would watch and wait. They knew what was coming.
First, would be “THE EYE” – this was the eye of my father, in the rear view mirror, red eyebrow raised high in that look that served to warn us of impending negative action.
Most of the time, that was sufficient, but occasionally, those caught up in the frenzy of the dispute would miss THE EYE. If the culprits missed THE EYE, THE VOICE was next.
“Do you want to get out and walk???”
Well, I don’t know about you, but the threat of getting out to walk in an unknown location was sufficient for us. The biggest disputes were immediately put to rest when that single question was raised. I raised two children and used a similar technique when they acted up in the car. I had similar results. How is it that this woman had such an out of control situation going on in her car??? Has she never been introduced to THE EYE?