Friday, August 20, 2004


I survived.
My breathing should return to normal by morning.
My heart rate might remain elevated for an additional day or two.

I threw him the keys as I got into the passenger seat. After fiddling with his glasses, he adjusted his seat and checked all the mirrors. He turned the key, changed the radio station, increased the volume and opened his window. With his foot on the brake, he shifted gears and looked over his shoulder. Slowly applying pressure to the accelerator, he anticipated a move backward. When it didn’t work, he looked at me and said, “Whaaa?”
“Uh. You’ve got it in Reverse, right?” I politely inquire as we inch forward.

Without fail, he asks me the same question every time we turn onto a new street. “What’s the speed limit now?”
And then his only goal, regardless of traffic conditions, or my clinched, strung out body, is to accelerate to that speed as soon as possible.

“There’s a stop sign ahead.”
“I see it.”
“I’d start slowing down now.”
“But the speed limit is 60.”
“Brake. Use the brake.”
“Stop moving.”
“Back there. You’ve crossed the line. You have to stop on that big fat line.”
“What’s this line, then?”
“It’s the cross walk. See how that person has to walk in the intersection because you’re in their walkway.”

“Don’t go.”
“Why not?”
“Stop. I said stop.”
“I did. But now I’m going.”
I’m pumping my brake foot against a pedal-less floor board.
“See how the car behind you’s lights are real close to our back end?”
“Yeah. What’s that all about?”
“You pulled out in front of him.”
“I stopped first.”
“Nice of you. But he is traveling at 60 kph and didn’t have to stop.”
“But I stopped first. Then it was his turn.”
“Not all intersections have 4-way stop signs.” So far they all have been. “He didn’t have to stop. You have to wait til its safe.”
“It’s fine. Quit worrying. When do I turn again? Here? Where? Over here? Where?”

We are going to my dad and mom’s place. They’ve lived on the farm for 32 years. Clint has visited them at least once a week, every week for the past 17 years. Plus we’ve lived on the farm three separate times in his lifetime. He hasn’t a clue how to get there.

“Clint! We’re so glad you came by. We were just talking about you.” Baps and Nan greet him like he’s a visiting celebrity. ”How’d he do?” Baps asks proudly, fully expecting nothing but a glowing report about his grandson.
“He’s getting better” I gush.
“That’s my boy! You come and visit anytime you want.”
“Well, he had no idea how to get here.” I mumble. “You’d think that after all these years, he’d have some notion…”
“That’s because every time he’s in a car he puts his head down and uses his hands to play with that machine between his legs.”
“Dad, it’s called a Gameboy.”
“Clint. You gotta look up. Watch where you’re going. See what’s going on around you.”

So true.

After loading two skimboards into the back, (by the way, he makes incredible skimboards. Talk to me later. I can get you a good deal) we jostle and bump our way down their driveway.
“Which way?”
Trapping the huge sigh that is half way up my windpipe, I non-judgementally say, “Right. But stop first to make sure it’s safe.”
(Ahem. I didn’t stop once. Three year old Clint was in the back seat of my Camero and I was pregnant with Max. My front end got knocked nicely and I landed in the shallow ditch.)
Once on 96th he races to get to 60 kph. At the top of the hill, I have a decision to make.
“Which way?” he asks at the intersection.
If we go straight through, I’ve got 20 minutes of poorly lit back roads with minimal traffic, but lots of turns, stop signs and deep ditches. We came that way, and I was still traumatized.
If we turn right, we’ll end up on the Fraser Highway, with considerable more traffic, busier intersections and 67 corners manned by street lights. Red and green are not a problem. There are decisive. It’s that amber light that is open for interpretation. Oy.
If we turn left, we, sigh, attempt the freeway for the first time. No stop signs. No traffic lights. Just a merge on. And a merge off. And an opportunity for him to drive 100 kph in a relatively straight line.

“Well? Which way do I turn?”
“Left. We’ll take the freeway.”
All right!”

I’m not a drinker. There is no alcohol in this house. Nor do I have any medication that would work as a relaxant. Thus far, none has been necessary. But tonight, I’m looking in my baking cupboard and wondering how effective the 100% pure Vanilla might be at taking the edge off.

Three things I’m thankful for:
1. Airbags
2. Car Insurance
3. The opportunity to drive around with my son and watch him gain confidence and skill.

Quote of the day:
What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Albert Camus

Take care

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