Whenever I want to recapture a bit of my youth, all I need to do is get in the back seat of my parents’ car, and I’m instantly transformed to girl of about 15 instead of a married mother of three.
I should really do some research to find out if this effect is only on me or if it would work on anyone. Perhaps my parents’ power transcends their own offspring. I could be looking at a $1 billion idea. Perhaps I should look into a patent.
When will I ever learn? It seemed like such a great idea to take them up on their offer to drive with them to my cousin Donna’s fiftieth birthday party at Belmont Park.
Joe stayed home with the kids, which included taking Peter, our nine-year-old, to a schoolmate’s birthday party at Chuck E Cheese. I thought I was getting the better end of the deal until I had to fend for myself during the hour-long drive with mom and dad.
First my mother had to set up Nellie, her pet name for my parents’ GPS.
Yes. Not only does it have a name, but my mother talks to “her” and about “her” as if “she” was a real person. This went on throughout the hour-long ride.
My mom let me know she was a bit mad at Nellie because “she” had gotten her lost the other day.
The GPS had my mother going in circles for almost half an hour while she was trying to get to a function for her garden club.
“Mom. How did it mess you up that badly? Is it working properly?
“Well, I MIGHT have taken a right turn when “she” said take a left, but then “she” just kept confusing me.”
I glanced at my dad who was driving, and he shot me back a look that said, please don’t take this any further.
“Warren why are you going right? Nellie said to go left. Are you taking Jericho all the way there? Shouldn’t you take the expressway? Nellie says to take the expressway.”
“Andrea, I know what I’m doing.”
“Well now Nellie is going to have to reset herself.”
“Recalculating,” says the computer generated voice.
“Mom you do know that even though it talks, It’s not real?” I’m trying not to laugh, but I’m not succeeding.
“Yes. Kathy I know she is not real. But she has been with us for almost nine years. And, well, to me she is real. Aren’t you Nellie?”
We were only 10 minutes in, and I was regretting my decision to bail out on Chuck E Cheese. I hope Donna knows how much I love her.
My parents go back and forth throughout the whole ride. My mother corrects my father, and my father pretends not to listen to her.
Years of childhood memories start flooding back to me. Some good, some less than stellar. I seriously am in awe of the fact that the two of them have managed to stay married for 50 years.
I can’t help wondering how my own kids will look back on the family rides Joe and I are in charge of. Me complaining that he is trying to bake me and him accusing me of trying to turn them all into icicles because I need to have the air on full blast even when it’s freezing outside.
I also have a tendency to claim that he’s trying to kill us whenever he changes lanes. It’s the same complaint my mother makes to my father.
Will one of my kids write an essay about me and Joe one day? I don’t doubt it.
We arrive at the party, and my parents have a few more exchanges that make me grateful when I see my sisters and can escape. We laugh over my adventures in the car just like we did when we were girls.
Then before I know it the party is over, and it’s time to say our farewells. Of course my mother asks me if I’ve said goodbye to everyone, not unlike she did when I was nine.
It’s then when I realize that no matter how old I am, or what I may accomplish in my life, I will always be their child.
This can be extremely maddening at times. Yet, I can’t quite help thinking how profoundly lucky I am that I still have them around to drive me crazy.