So you’ve been driving a car for 15 years. You can reverse park with just one hand on the steering wheel and you’ve still got your no claim bonus.
Big deal. Try driving with children in the back and then come talk to me.
I reckon all driving tests should be conducted with two screaming kids in the backseat because if you can avoid crashing under those circumstances you’ll be fine in most motoring situations.
Cars and kids … where shall I start?
Kids have no appreciation for how hard it is to drive in traffic.
Picture this. You are concentrating hard as you prepare to merge at speed onto the busy Pacific Highway, when suddenly from the backseat you hear: ‘Mum, he hit me, MUMMMMMMM he’s hitting me, help me MUMMMMEEEEEEE.’
Weaker women would have a bingle right there, but we mums must block out the noise pollution and focus on Not. Crashing. The. Car.
When you regularly drive with kids you’ll become adept at some key moves. My favourite is the ‘one hand on the wheel, eyes on the road, one hand in the back’ move.
The hand in the back is used to offer enticements and pacifiers to the rowdy rabble.
Food is my pacifier of choice.
I still get a giggle when I met parents-to-be who vow ‘no food will ever be consumed in our car’. Yeah right, come see me in a year. Of course we all start with lofty ideals but let’s be honest, if it’s the difference between screaming kids and a messy car you’ll choose the messy car. Every time.
Each month I book my car in for an intensive vacuum and clean. I’m sure the boys at the carwash run and hide when they see us pull in. Sometimes it’s so bad we’re hit with a ‘very messy car’ surcharge.
I once discovered the furry, rotting remains of a mouse under one of the kids’ booster seats. It probably died from overconsumption after months of feasting on discarded cookies and bits of mouldy muesli bar.
Post kids you’ll view the car in a whole new light. Engine size is irrelevant, the important questions to ask the salesman are: Does it have cup holders and how big is the boot?
Upon inspection ensure the boot will hold an all-terrain stroller, a few scooters, a couple of kids’ bikes, a change of clothes for every member of the family and that it will provide a suitable spot to change nasty nappies in really desperate times.
Another handy feature is satnav to avoid mummy-daddy arguments about his map reading failures. Then of course there’s the hands-free mobile set-up … a legal requirement, but also essential if your left hand is to be free to reach in the back to deliver food/toys/smacks (see above).
But the risk of the hands-free mobile set up is that whoever you’re speaking to will hear the nonsense in the backseat.
I always hover a finger over the hang-up button, just in case the convo deteriorates into poo, bum, wee territory.
And yes, I am speaking from experience.
So sorry, we must have been cut off.
As appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin. Read my Family Matters pages in the paper every Wednesday.