A warning to other motorists – parents may not be road worthy.
IF YOU LOOK REALLY REALLY CLOSELY, you can make out a a tiny fish pressed between those two fingers. Not a real one. A cracker. One of those infamous ‘Goldfish’ crackers you probably didn’t buy before you had a baby. It’s true – God is passing Adam a goldfish cracker. You can see that Adam is kind of grumpy – obviously in need of a snack. God is looking at his creation but only for a second. That’s because he’s going to have to turn to check to see that the traffic light ahead is still green. I’ve done it a million times myself while driving – reached far, far into the back seat, goldfish cracker in hand, desperately stretching, trying to make contact with my baby’s tiny fingers who are flailing in his bid to capture the cracker. My eyes are on the road ahead – but my concentration…sorry, it’s all on the cracker.
Oh how I used to roll my eyes at those “Baby on Board” signs. “Oh, okay.” I’d think to myself. “I won’t hit you NOW because you have a baby in your car. If I didn’t know that, because I said so A warning to other motorists – parents may not be road worthy.
Then whammo, here comes my car straight into the rear of yours.” I assumed there was a smugness behind those signs. A “please be careful because we have precious cargo in here. We’re way more special than anyone else on the road.” Now I realize those signs are warnings to every other car. Here’s the translation: “Please forgive me, I’m a lunatic. I can’t really believe I’m even driving. I haven’t slept well in months. I can’t slow down because if the speedometer drops below 30 kilometres an hour, the baby will start to scream. So please, take care around me. I can’t be held responsible for my actions behind the wheel.”
I can say this is true, because I am now a bad driver. I have switched lanes without signaling. Let’s be really honest. I’ve switched lanes without even meaning to because the baby was suddenly quiet after endless screaming, and I needed to see if he was still alive. I have driven with my body contorted so I could jiggle the car seat in an attempt to fool the baby into thinking he’s still moving, even though we’re in a traffic jam that stretches for kilometres. I have turned around repeatedly to see if baby is doing the sign language symbol for “more” verses of “The Wheels on the Bus” which seems to keep him happy. How happy? Well, in my version not only do the wheels turn and the wipers swish, my bus driver says goodbye to all his passengers, goes home, has dinner with the wife, watches TV, goes to bed and gets up again to have the wheels begin to turn again. I have driven with one hand with the rain streaming down the windshield in order to stroke his leg, or if need be, jiggle his foot to keep him from sleeping. Because we all know that once his head falls forward in that car seat – even if it’s just for three minutes – the afternoon nap is doomed. And of course, I have done the cracker pass. And let me tell you, that serene look on God’s face in the Sistine Chapel is absolutely justified. There is nothing more satisfying than feeling those tiny warm fingers brush yours and then grasp that cracker, or apple slice, or baby cheesie, or whatever it is that is the current food obsession. It is like a completed Hail Mary pass in the final minutes of the Grey Cup. And when that morsel of food is shoved into the waiting baby mouth, you can hear the angels singing.
So this is my apology to all those people I used to sneer at with those “Baby on Board” signs. I’m sorry. I had no idea what you were going through. I didn’t realize you were desperately sending me a signal to steer clear. If I had time I’d get one too.
Kelly Ryan, pictured above with her children, Maggie and Ian, is an award-winning radio reporter currently on her second maternity leave. She lives in Vancouver and drives a red Prius.
Published in October 2010.