Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stop the car

When I was a young child, probably around 5 or 6 I had an interesting experience. An experience that as I look back on it now, tells me a lot about what I must have been like as a kid and also helps me to reframe my interactions with my own kids.

One day, my family and I were driving down the street. I remember very little about the street or the car for that matter. What I do remember is that it was a car with one long seat in the front. I was sitting near the door with my oldest brother next to me and my mom on the other side of him. Of course, no one wore seat belts because the 70's was the age of taking your life completely for granted every time you got in a car. I am not sure why I was near the door and my older brother was in the middle. For one thing, I have a 5 year old and she is prone to playing with latches and opening things at the worst possible moments. Although, looking back, I also see that my brother often acted as my human shield from my mother, at least while I was small.

Back to the story at hand, driving along my door either became loose or it became obvious it never had been completely shut in the first place. I remember the ensuing conversation. My mom told me to trade places with my brother so he could open and shut the door. I told her no. This went on for some time all the while my mom not pulling over to the side of the road and stopping the car. When I finally tired of the arguing, I just took matters in to my own hands and pulled the latch to open the car door. Once again, car still moving. This was not a particularly well thought out move, but please remember I was 6. I fell out of the car and the only reason I did not get run over by the car was because of my white knuckle grip on the door handle. I guess my mom finally decided it would be a good idea to stop the car.

I don't remember what happened next. I don't remember being hurt in any way. I do remember that I was punished by being kept home from a bowling outing that I had really been looking forward to.

There are days when my younger daughter seems to have zero impulse control, where she does not think at all before making a choice. When I remember my child self, I see that I was lot like her and that I can work with her to help her make safer decisions. And I become fully aware that sometimes you just stop the car because you can't get anywhere arguing with a head strong 5 or 6 year old, or adult for that matter.

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