Monday, July 26, 2010

Driving Me Crazy--by Jamie

Most of the mothers I know had babies who loved snoozing in their car seats, and these moms spent many nap times and night times putting their babies to sleep in their cars. Middle-of-the-night outings were quite popular with many of my friends, who used them to soothe a screaming babe who wouldn't fall asleep in her crib—but who would immediately be lulled to sleep by a drive around the neighborhood. Not my kid. From the very first day Jayda’s tush hit her infant car seat, she hated it, and she let me know it—loudly.

When I gave birth to Jayda, I’d only been living in suburbia for three months, following over a decade spent in the city. And that meant I was a very inexperienced—and insecure—driver. Add to the mix a screaming infant in the back seat every time I pulled out of my driveway, and you can understand why I rarely wanted to drive past a five-mile radius of my house for the first year of Jayda’s life. No matter where we went, Jayda screamed and screamed and screamed—and made me a nervous wreck. And on the rare occasion when she stopped screaming because she’d finally exhausted her little body and passed out, that freaked me out even more; I thought she was dead, and had to pull over and check on her. Driving with Jayda was not fun.

It’s still not fun—at least over long distances. Last summer, Jayda suddenly decided that she hated hills—and panicked every time she saw a slight curve ahead in the road that indicated our car might go up and down a bit. Then, a few months later, she decided she hated parkways with a passion. Now, every time we take off for a play date or an outing, she asks skeptically, “Are we going on ‘that’ road?” Since we do often take parkways, I purchased a DVD player for those occasions. Now, when we’re heading somewhere that’s not completely local, I assure Jayda that we are going to be on “that” road, but she can either close her eyes (which leads to great protests—since Jayda hates sleeping even more than she hates driving), or watch a movie. Thanks to folks like Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears and Arthur, parkway driving is a bit more peaceful for me now, as Jayda distracts herself from the unappealing drive with her mini movie screen. But all is not perfect.

Last week, Jayda and I drove out east to my sister’s house to go blueberry picking at a local farm, and had a lovely day. But the 90-minute ride home was pure hell. Jayda vacillated from screaming for “a treat” to screaming that she had a belly ache to begging to go home "right now!" to lie in her bed (which is something she never begs to do!). The ride was so bad that I developed a migraine in the middle of it. Now that Jayda’s not a baby, I can talk to her and explain things to her while we’re in the car…but it’s still near-impossible to get a tired, cranky car-hating kid to understand that there’s a long ride ahead of us, and there’s no way to make it go any faster. And I fear it’s always going to be that way with Jayda. Or, at least until she turns 17 and starts throwing a different kind of car tantrum—the one where she relentlessly begs for the car keys so she can drive herself!

Attention readers: This is my 52nd blog—I haven’t missed a week since I started!—and I just wanted to say “thank you” to those of you who have been faithfully reading my accounts of single motherhood every week. Some blogs come easy to me…some not-so-much…but knowing you’re out there, looking forward to my words and commenting on them (please!) makes it all worthwhile.


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