Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stupidity breeds ingenuity (thank goodness)

Being a parent reveals all sorts of unflattering things in a person. It’s great for building character, I suppose, but some of what I’ve learned, I wish I hadn’t. I could write an entire post on this subject, but I’ll reserve the focus this time for one particular shortcoming among the many: my inability to focus well when I’m being barraged by constant conversation. I’ve already written several times here about the nonstop chattering of my child; I never thought it would lead me to car damage. However, I believe that’s exactly what happened.

You see, I’ve had the pleasure of parking in many garages, and my car is small. I’m quite accustomed to pulling in, backing out, making sure the vehicle is properly aligned, etc. I’ve done it for years, without incident. Until now. In the past year, I have not once, but twice left the driver’s door open and attempted to back out of the garage that way. One time, I realized my error in time. The other? I practically tore the door off, and broke several storm door panels that had been leaning too close to the garage opening… it was ugly. Neighbors heard the screech of metal and peeked into our driveway to make certain we were all standing… Beyond humiliating, I kid you not.

And I’ve tried to figure it out. Why do I suddenly stink behind the wheel? And the only consistent factor I can find is my son, and his incessant flow of words spilling into my ears at all times. Add to that my tendency to try to look at him when he’s talking, and you have a distracted mommy-brain who often turns around to face the back seat, all while trying to extract a big machine through the narrow opening of a block structure.

So, I’m proud to say that I’ve learned to literally look at my car door each and every time I am preparing to back out of the garage. And thanks to my recent deliberate efforts, there has not been another incident of leaving the car door open.

But. After checking the car door to confirm that it was shut, my cocky self-assurance led me instead to drive the vehicle too close to the driver’s-side wall. The door remained happily intact, but my driver’s side mirror? Not. It was pummeled. By the time I had comprehended the horrible noise of butchered plastic and stopped in mid-backup, it was too late: the mirror hung, lifeless, suspended only by the silver cables inside. It even swung back and forth slightly, like a body suspended from a broken neck. Well, perhaps not quite that graphic. But it seemed that way to me—probably because I was its killer.

I drove the car with dangling, detached mirror for several days. Superglue did not work. One elderly gent in the Strip District explained to me (even though I had not asked) that I would need to use screws to reattach the mirror to the car body. It sounded logical, until closer examination of my car revealed very little to which one might attach a screw. I pled my case with Todd. My driving was already quite possibly impaired by motherhood itself; was I safe in a car that was missing a mirror? Was his son safe? Was this even legal? Wasn’t there something he could do?

And God bless him, he did. I came downstairs last evening, found him beaming, and went into the garage to check out his handiwork. The mirror was fixed! There it stood, back in shape, proudly at attention, reflecting with ease. No more crazy swinging. I was elated.

“How did you do it?”

He grinned sheepishly. “You won’t believe it.” And he pointed to the life-saving tool: My craft glue gun.

We howled. And the mirror? It held.


Anonymous said...

Ha! I feel your pain. I whacked my passenger side mirror backing into our narrow garage earlier this year. It was toast. Was I happy when Mike found a new one at a junk yard and I no longer had to have my stupidity dangling out there for me and everyone else to see. And no chattering tot as an excuse! (Now I always jockey for position 2 or 3 times before attempting to back in -- which I do nearly every day.)

Mel said...

it IS pain, isn't it. and now, although the mirror is holding, the reflective surface itself shakes as soon as I start the car engine... just a wiggly little lasting reminder of my brainlessness... as if I NEEDED one. ; )

Anonymous said...

I can completely sympathize with ya.....just recently backed the newer car into the even newer garage door. I plead insanity due to a 7-yr old passenger and a 2-yr old passenger!

Mel said...

tina g, your plea is utterly logical and defensible! I find you not guilty. ; )

Anonymous said...

just thought you would appreciate this one.........scraped the whole side of the van against one of those useless cement poles while attempting a different lane at the bank. ahhhhh, just another day in my life! can I plead the same case as before?

Mel said...

tina g: absoLUTEly you can plead that same case. : )