It’s been an emotional week.
I managed to get some writing done and squeeze in some reading time since as Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.”
Not that I read Stephen King. He’s fantastic, sure, but that genre freaks me out.
I saw the television adaptation of IT replayed on television last week. Love Tim Burton, dislike horror. And blood. And clowns. And clowns that burst balloons full of blood, even if they are Tim Burton. King wrote the term dead lights in a story and included a giant spider and creepy paper boats floating and a virgin that dies with an inhaler and threw in a suicide for good measure… good grief. Brilliant.
What did I come here for? OH, yeah. It’s been a rough week…
I won’t relay every detail. I will say that humor keeps me afloat and I’ll share one story of this week’s trauma-like hilarity. It was a trip to the DMV for my daughter’s driving test that ended in laughter. And tears. But, mostly laughter. I guess it depends on who’s version is being told. And this is mine. So, there’s both.
The DMV was running behind and my daughter was relieved when they finally called her name. I was nervous. I watched her drive away through a window where she couldn’t see me hovering, then took a deep breath of tension before finding a seat to wait it out.
My phone rang less than five minutes later.
“Where are you?” she demanded as if I had suddenly abandoned her. How could I. She had the car.
“I’m inside the DMV.” I wanted to answer “Acapulco”, but it didn’t seem like the time for sarcasm. “Where are YOU?”
“I’m outside. I failed,” she said bluntly.
I found her on the opposite side of the building, pacing. When she saw me she let the first tears fall quietly. “It’s okay, no big deal,” I said. “What happened?” It seemed like an unnecessary question to have to say out loud, but if there is one thing parents learn about teenagers is that all unnecessary questions are indeed necessary.
“I don’t know!” She shrugged angrily and started to walk away.
“Well, let’s go back in and ask. There must be a reason – or a list of reasons – and we have to reschedule another test anyway. Wait… did you hit something?”
I cranked my neck to peer around a palm tree to the crowded parking lot for the old family car that my son now owns. I tried to think of what might have fallen off to cause the test to end so abruptly. I lamented that the Fabreze I used to get rid of the young dude odor had apparently not been enough to keep the ‘ole gal together.
“I didn’t hit anything,” she said waving her hands again with an even more violent shrug. She was ahead of me now, apparently anxious to leave the whole situation behind.
I sighed and asked for the keys since it was obvious that I would be driving us home. I still wasn’t convinced she hadn’t run over a curb and inspected the wheels as we approached. Hitting parking lot curbs was the most common of her driving infractions.
I looked under the car and casually mentioned that she could stay out here while I went back in to ask what happened. She said nothing. At least not out loud. Her eyes remarked, “If you ask another question my head will explode and roll across this parking lot and you don’t want that.”
We (I) pulled out of the lot (without hitting a curb) and I began to convey all the motherly statements I’m trained for, such as, telling her it’s no big deal, we’ll find out what she did wrong and work on it, and the ever popular “mistakes happen.”
I also tried to cheer her up by retelling the story of a relative that failed his first time because some lady decided to smack into him during the test. Getting into an accident on your driving test is an automatic fail, I explained with a smile. She didn’t budge and continued to stare out the passenger window, tears falling occasionally. The car appeared fine, so I finally let that idea go…
I couldn’t help trying to piece it together. What could you possibly do in only a few minutes to fail a driving test?
“So, did she have you come out this exit?” I prodded.
“Yes… I turned left.”
“Uh-huh. And no problems, right? Then what?”
“We went straight.” She pointed the direction we were driving, wiping her cheeks. “I went through the yellow light…”
“You went through a yellow light?” I snorted as we drove through the same (currently green) light.
The tears increased and we drove in silence for a while. I tried to turn my head to hide the laughter. And wasn’t successful. I snickered between more of the same encouraging statements that parents are supposed to say. “Don’t worry.” Snicker. “You’ll get ’em next time.” Chortle.
I managed to contain myself like an adult and let the comfortable silence hang in the air for a while before ending with a final burst of laughter. “This doesn’t beat a story that involves getting into an accident on your driving test, but I promise that someday it will be funny. You’ll be a close family second for driving test stories.”
She half-smirked and wiped some final tears away. Once home, she slammed her way to her room and covered her head with a blanket for about an hour. Later, when I suggested we go for a burger and asked her if she wanted to drive, I was finally able to keep a straight face.
She chuckled and put both hands up in front of her as if shoving the idea away and managed, “Uh, no.” I told her I was kidding. I would drive us there. She could drive home.
The whole thing was completely us. Emotionally charged individuals who manage to pull it together when necessary and maintain the happy place inside. Although mishaps happen and sometimes we need to recover with a burger and a blanket over our heads for a while – and a little laughter – before stabilizing.
She’s already rescheduled the test for a couple of weeks from now. She’s probably not going to be too pleased, however, that I posted this.
But, someday… someday this will be hilarious.