Throughout the history of my child-rearing and Clinch family bonding, I’ve been nothing if not this: the backseat driver.
It’s my heritage, my legacy and my claim to fame.
It’s not something that I chose, cultivated and attempted to perfect; it’s just something that I do.
For years, as I approached the family sedan, knowing that one of the men will man the helm, I did so with great trepidation.
My handsome husband, Pat, has been driving his whole life and thankfully has experienced nary an accident. I should take comfort in this fact, but instead I sit in the passenger seat and exclaim, “Do you see that merging car? Dear Lord, that truck is coming over at us! Is that semi-driver out of his freedom-loving mind?”
Apparently, it wears on the nerves of the family for I am often discouraged against calling out “We’re all going to die!” and instead encouraged to not look out the windows and instead check my text messages, engage in conversations from the back of the vehicle or perhaps stick my nose in a book.
It was the worst when I taught our four sons to drive. I tried to remain calm as they sat in the driver’s seat of our cherished sedan and attempted to buckle in as I tied my seat belt into a rosary.
“I’m going for a drive,” our eldest and confident son Vernon said to me as he flashed his pearly whites on his maiden voyage, “and you, my dear mother, are going for a ride.”
Lord help us all.
Our second in line, Huey, was more concerned about the music than the driving and had even taken the time to burn a CD for the ride that consisted of, but wasn’t limited to, a lot of bad lyrics that contained a lot of bad words. Somewhere between the yellow light that he missed and an incomplete stop, I ejected that bad boy out and broke it in two — the CD, not Huey.
Our younger two sons were safer drivers, paid better attention to the road and actually seemed to care whether or not they were shaving years off of their mother’s life.
Fast forward to this past weekend when my dearly beloved spouse was driving us back from a weekend in a nearby town. When I saw that he planned to drive, I told me to sit in the passenger seat and keep my mouth shut. I said nothing when he hit the rumble bars as he commented on how good the soy beans looked.
I also kept to myself when he mentioned that most of the fields were looking good but that some of the alfalfa had been allowed to flower out.
I didn’t call out to our maker when a Dodge Durango cut us off, nor did I bother Jesus when a car ahead of us made a lane change with nary a blinker.
Therefore, I suppose my unexpected silence had my Pat feeling a tad bit confident with his driving skills and totally unprepared when I suddenly called out to our maker when a car attempted to merge right on the interstate and right into us as if they had never heard of yielding or right of way.
Poor Pat. He just heard my screams and assumed the worst. Then he assessed the situation, corrected it and asked me, “What’s the matter with you?”
“I don’t know,” I responded. “I would change if I could.”
Not 10-minutes later, a semi-truck went over onto the rumble bars and over-corrected before coming back at us. Again I couldn’t help it and beckoned the good Lord to save us, causing Pat to panic a bit before making the necessary adjustments. The first time he let it slide, but this time he said, “You know, you really have got to stop doing that.”
I might have to have Huey burn me another CD. Perhaps some music with bad words is just what the situation needs.