Driving with kids in the backseat can be all kinds of entertaining. As soon as JJ – my oldest – could talk, he wanted to know all about traffic lights and stop signs. He didn’t like stop signs because he couldn’t see them very well from his seat so he always thought I was just randomly stopping to annoy him. I only do that on occasion.
Anyway, I took all the traffic light questions as an opportunity to teach him about rules and colors and what it means to stop and go. We would pull up to a light and he would recite, “Green means go and red means stop!” Of course, I really didn’t think he understood all of this, I just thought he was repeating what he heard me say over and over again.
One day, I rolled up to a red light and needed to make a right-hand turn. I came to a stop, looked both ways, and proceeded to make the turn. I overheard JJ in the car seat say softly to himself, “Hmmm, the light was red.” I chuckled to myself but he didn’t realize I had heard him so he asked,
“Mommy, why did you go when the light was red?”
“I was making a right-hand turn, so if you stop and look both ways, you are allowed to do that even though the light is red.”
“No, you’re not.”
“Sure you can.”
“You’re bad. GREEN means go – not red!”
Why I tried to explain this to a then two-year-old is beyond me. He then proceeded to tell everyone that his Mom had run a red light. Just this past week, I was at yet another red light ready to make a right-hand turn. I didn’t go because it was in a construction zone and traffic was down to one lane. JJ insisted that I could have and should have made the turn because of the previous rule that I had described to him. No need for safety first.
Now he likes to tell me the directions to go different places. The other day, we were going to run some errands and I told him he could tell me the way to get to the store. There are several different ways to get to stores from our home, so he has to give me specific directions. This also helps him learn his right from his left. We pulled up to a stop sign and JJ told me to go straight. I asked, “What if I wanted to turn left?”
His response, “You can’t go left. If you turn left you will die. You are dying, Mom.”
“I’m not dying – I’m not turning left.”
“You are still gonna die soon.”
Great. File that under creepy stuff my kid says. It was also the second time that week he predicted my death. I don’t know what’s worse, JJ saying I’m going to die or Jett yelling “Pappy!” every single time we pass a certain cemetery. What in the world, boys!?
At least the backseat criticism isn’t just limited to me – my husband gets hit with it too. JJ always tells me that, “Dad is a horrible driver.” I ask why and he says things like, “He goes too fast,” or “He hits animals.” This prompts me to get Jeff to explain what JJ is talking about, which is usually about as serious as a bug hitting the windshield.
When JJ says goodbye to me in the mornings, he likes to look outside and see what the weather is like. He’ll say things like, “It’s pretty foggy out there. You need to turn on your lights and be careful!” I’ve also gotten warnings like, “It’s really raining – be sure to use your lights and wipers!”
Are you my kid or my grandfather???
Unfortunately, there are times when Jeff and I experience a bit of road rage. We will ‘talk’ to the other drivers and then JJ will ask why we said what we did.
“Dad, why’d you say, ‘Move it or lose it’?”
“Why’d you say, ‘Watch out!’?’
“Why’d you say, ‘Get off the road’?”
“Mom, why’d you say, ‘Jeez, buddy’?”
It’s usually too difficult or annoying to explain what we feel the other drive did wrong, so we typically brush these responses off or just apologize for saying them because we don’t want it to be repeated.
Jett has now joined forces with JJ and they are both ganging up on us. They picked up on the classic, “Are we there yet?” all by themselves. I have literally been asked that question before we are fully backed out of the driveway. No, no we are not there yet.
Teaching them to drive should be a real blast. I think I’ll just sit in the backseat and pepper them with ‘because why’ questions the whole time. Better yet, I’ll have them drive over to their Aunt Em’s house, pick her up, and then the two of us can do a backseat rendition of ‘Mockingbird’ that can only be rivaled by Harry and Lloyd in ‘Dumb and Dumber’.
Thankfully, these aren’t the only experiences we have while driving. Many great conversations have been had with our kids while we are in the car and we hope those continue for years to come. But for now, they are definitely car seat comedians.