You Drive you, I’ll Drive Me…

“Drive for yourself and let other drivers worry about themselves…” 

Words of wisdom from my much missed Granda Pops.  

He said these words to my Mum many times and he said them to me when I drove my first car up to his sitting room window many years ago. 

He looked out from his throne, cast his eyes over it, nodded that it was a “good big safe car” and then added these words. 

 I’d heard them before of course. It was one of his lines that my Mum had taken with her when she left home, repeating it at many opportunities, much like the one or two clangers that I constantly repeat from my Dad.

And like Daddy’s “Remember who has the problem” line, this one has stood the test of time and lingered on in our memories, not just because of who used to say it, but because it’s so so true. 

Mum still likes to remind us of, especially when one of us comes home giving out about someone who pulled out in front of us, or didn’t use an indicator, or almost caused a three car pile up at the roundabout. 

But this past week I’ve thought about it and said it more than once…and yet, I haven’t even been driving. I haven’t left the house.

In a few different conversations and phonecalls, and in the current climate of the JudgyMcJudgerson and AngryMcAngryson, I have found myself comforting people by using Granda’s line.  

Let’s get metaphorical, shall we? Buckle up… (see what I did there?)

Car, Pink Car, Thunderbird, Drive

We all drive our own car. ( We all live our own lives). 

We’re all responsible for our own vehicle. (You worry about you, I’ll worry about me.)

We all have our own passengers. (My family is my responsibility.)

We shouldn’t drive too fast. (Calm yourself woman!)

We can’t drive with an empty tank. (Fuel that body up!)

The car needs regular services. (Self care is important… Let your imagination go where it will there Jacinta!)

If you’re on the wrong route, you can always turn around or change lanes.  (You’re NOT stuck in that job/rut/relationship. Do what you need to make yourself happy.)

Make sure the tyres are fit for purpose. (Shoes are also important…)

We should all stay in our own lane (Mind your business Polly…)

Actually, this one is pretty important.  Drive to get yourself where you need to go, but try not to bump into anyone else on your journey eh? Don’t be a roadhog and remember you’re not the only car on the road.

Traffic, Highway, Lights, Night, Speed

But joking aside, there’s a reason cars and driving are so frequently used for analyses of life.  It makes sense.  Life is a journey and we are all travelling through, trying to navigate potholes and flat tyres and other cars.

You can’t control how other drivers drive their cars or react on the road.  And you can’t control how other people live their lives or react to things. 

You can disapprove of a person’s driving style or behaviour on the road, but there’s very little you can DO about it. Same goes for life and other people’s decisions/business/choices.

You can watch in horror as someone overtakes on a corner, aghast at what might happen, but there is nothing you can do about their decision. People have to make their own decisions.

You can disagree on the style or colour or size of someone else’s car choice.  Guess what, it’s not YOUR car and really, what they drive is nothing to do with you.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  You’re not them.

If people are reacting or behaving a certain way towards you.  If people are commenting and disapproving of what you do.  If people are unhappy with how you are driving YOUR car… whatever.   

Are they your passengers?  

Are they in danger because of how “drive your car”?  

Do they pay for your car?

Well if not, does it really matter what they think?

No. 

And if someone decided to flash their lights at you, or give you the one fingered salute as they pass, or shout out the window at you…or even if they sit in their car bitching about yours, once again, you can’t control that. 

And actually now that I think of it, my Granda’s words of wisdom AND my Daddy’s words of wisdom go quite well together. 

“You drive for yourself and let other drivers drive for themselves”.  Oh and if someone doesn’t like your “driving”, “remember who has the problem”.

Vintage 1950S, Pretty Woman, Vintage Car

Leaving Kids in the Car?

Right.

I am not a judgy parent.  I live by and promote the ideas of ‘each to their own’ and ‘whatever works for you’.  In fact I often call BS on Sanctimammies and their self righteousness.  You know that.

The only one issue that I will happily criticize is that of traveling in cars with kids who are not strapped in.  There is no excuse for that.  None.  Ever.

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However, this week I was faced with something else, another car issue actually,  that made me upset and angry and left me reeling with guilt if I’m honest.  I posted about it on my stories last night and it seems from the hundreds of Mums who voted on my polls, that most of us are on the same page when it comes to it.

On Monday afternoon, I was in Aldi-everything in Letterkenny.  I parked at the far end of the carpark as it was busy. As I left with my shopping, the car that was parked in the parent and child spot farthest from the door caught my eye.

There was movement in the back seat and as I passed, I realised it was a child.  Not an eight or 9 year old child.  I’d guess (and it is only a guess) that this little one was no more than 18 months old.

I looked around half expecting to see a Mum or Dad rushing back from returning a trolley, but there was no sign.  I went on to my car, unloaded my trolley and returned the trolley to the bay; which probably took about 4 minutes as I was at the opposite end of the carpark.

On my return, the baby was still alone in the car; granted quite calm and dry and not a bit distressed, but nonetheless alone and unsupervised and therefore, unsafe.

I asked my followers what I should have done.  The responses were mostly similar. Here are a few:

I’ve heard of people who take the child and go to find the parent, but that would distress the child more would it not? And technically, you’re lifting a child you don’t know…

I know some people who would ring the guards.  In fact so many have told me that’s exactly what I should have done, but I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do.  I also wasn’t able to hang around and wait for the guards to arrive as my own children were waiting for me to collect them and I couldn’t be late. So

I considered going in to try to find the parent, but let’s be honest, I had no idea who I’d be dealing with and while I’m not one to shy away from confrontation, I’m also not one to go looking for it.  And there’s a good chance that if that parent didn’t think it was a bad idea to leave their child alone in a busy carpark in the first place, they weren’t going to want to hear a lecture from me.

I often write about how we don’t know what a parent has been through on a given day.  So how could I, the preacher of this, be the one to chastise or challenge another Mum.

It doesn’t happen me often, but I genuinely had no idea what to do.

And so I went and sat in my car and watched, praying and willing the parent to come out and jump into the car.  I waited over 5 minutes and then I had to leave.  I’ve never felt so guilty leaving a carpark in my life.

I can still see that wee child in the back of the car.  I hope she wasn’t sitting much longer.  I have been racked with guilt that I should have done something since.

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So I put it to my followers on Instagram Stories and the reaction was interesting.  Hundreds of people voted and responded.  Here are the replies after 24 hours.

It seems that the general consensus is that it very much depends on a few factors: the age of the child(ren), the proximity of the shop and the length of time you’re away.

For example, most people agreed that to pull up to your local filling station/shop and run in to pay for fuel or grab bin labels or milk, was acceptable as long as you could still see the car.

Some said that sometimes, ‘if a child is sleeping or unwell or the rain is pelting down’, they’ll pop in but never for more than a minute.  And many of the mums who replied as

such said that they felt guilty about it and haven’t done it since.

Some said it depended on the age and number of kids. So leaving a young kid with older siblings is OK… for a few minutes.

ALL of them stressed that if they thought they’d be more than 2 minutes, the kids came in too.

ALL agreed that leaving your child unattended, 60 yards from the door, to go into a supermarket where let’s be honest, as fast as Jacinta-at-the-till is in Aldi-Everything, will ALWAYS take a minimum of 6 minutes even to run in for one item, was simply wrong.

I’m not judging Ladybelles.  I’m really not.  I have no idea what the circumstance was or who the parent was, but I do know that that child was alone in that car too long.  I have no idea how long she had already been there before I came out.

As parents, we are all too aware that it only takes a split second for something to go wrong or for something bad to happen. Or indeed for the wrong person to come along.  We might live in a lovely town, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ill-intentioned opportunists around, does it?

I just hope that the adult returned soon afterwards and that the little one wasn’t frightened.   And I hope that if they read this and know it was them, that maybe they might reconsider next time.

Because our children are our most valuable possessions and they should be kept safe to the very best of our abilities at all times.  That’s our job as parents.

Most of us wouldn’t leave our handbags in the car for the world to see; we hide it or take it with us, so I can’t understand why leaving a child is an option.

What’s your thoughts on this?

And please don’t be hateful towards the person.  This is not about bashing another parent, but it’s a conversation worth having.

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I am Strap your Kids in the Car Mum

Most days we all see something silly or shocking on our roads.

Maybe it’s a close call.  Maybe it’s a near miss.  Maybe it’s someone speeding…

And usually, we tut, or we hold our breath, or we swear or gesture some form of WTF at the offending driver…

But there is ONE thing that is becoming more and more prevalent on our roads, and Mammy can not for the life of me get my head around it…

Driving with kids who are NOT STRAPPED IN.

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In the past fortnight, I have seen THREE cases of this.

One car swung around a busy roundabout in my town with two toddlers standing at the windows in the back seat.

One pulled in to a carpark beside me and the child, no more than 5 years old, jumped out of the front seat, having been already standing when the car came to a stop.

One had a three year old standing between between the front seats as she swung into a parking space this morning. And yes, I know the child is three, because I know the woman who was driving.

Can I say anything?

God no.

Because how do you say it? Why is it my business?  How do I have ANY idea what that parent has been through this morning? How can you possibly comment without turning into the one thing that I personally despise…a sanctimammy.

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Others will say “Oh there were no seatbelts when we were children”.  I know.  I am one of that generation.  But hey, guess what? There was a lot less traffic and the roads were very differnt. Also, in the 80’s we thought it was safe to smoke while pregnant and that it was OK for teachers to hit our children…

So, HOW is it possible that this is happening?

My kids have grown up thinking that my car won’t start until they have their seatbelts on.  Of course I have rows with them where one of them will refuse to get into the seat, or where one has planked so impressively that I can’t get their belly to buckle so I can buckle them in.  And we have been late many many times because of these stand-offs.

But guess what?

This is ONE battle of wills which this Mammy will ALWAYS WIN.

Because I don’t give a continental shite how late I am, or how much she is crying, or how much I want to scream and tear my hair out, there is NOTHING in this world which will make me put my children into the car without them being strapped in.

NOTHING.

(And trust me, I have put my back out trying!)

Because as difficult as kids can be and as much as we are “only going around the corner”, none of us know what or who is also coming around that corner and even strapped in, none of us are 100% safe on the roads.

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I hate to sound preachy.  I really do.  It goes against every fibre of my blogging-being.  But seriously, the one and only true thing of any value that we have, is our children.

And while none of us can guarantee their safety when we’re on the roads, we CAN guarantee it within our cars and thereby give them the best possible chance in the event of the unthinkable happening.

I’d rather put up with tantrums and fights than live with my self if anything happened my child while I am driving.  Because if you don’t strap them in, then it’s as much your fault as the other driver’s if they get hurt.

Stop it.

Strap them in and wise up.

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I am She’s a Wagon is Roz Mum

Mammy’s jeep is called “Roz”.

I got her the same day I got the part of Roz in our production of 9 to 5 last winter. And so it seemed apt to name her Roz.   Beats Betsy or the yok, doesn’t it?

Roz is very fablis, but mostly, she is fablis because she can talk to me. Roz is like a real life person. If I am in the car on my own, I don’t have to feel lonely.  I just have to press a wee button and say something and I am guaranteed that Rozzie will answer me. She is my friend. She does what she’s told and unlike my minions doesn’t answer me back. Now granted, 80% of the time Roz says things like “Phone not detected” or “I’m sorry. Can you repeat please?”  And because she has an American accent, sometimes she misunderstands my ineloquent Donegalisms and will dial random numbers of people I haven’t spoken to in years.  In fact, one of the first nights I was driving her, I decided to show off to my sister.

“Call Lorr-aine” I ordered, slowly and in my “How-now-brown-cow” voice.  “Calling Laura Aynder…”

“FAAAAAAACK”  Mammy was screaming, frantically hitting the lever to end the call before it began.  The only reason the number Roz was dialling is still on my phone, is to make sure I don’t answer that wagon if she ever rings me. (Name changed obviously! I do not know any wagonish Lauras.)

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And so, I learned to be verrrrrrrrry clear and precise in my instructions to her.

One of the other fablis tricks Roz has is to read messages if they come in while I’m driving.  And so, on Saturday, half way up the dual carriageway, the radio is interrupted by “New Message”.  I get quite excited as I haven’t heard that in a while, and reply “Read Message”.  I don’t often be getting the oul messages anymore, as everyone now uses Snaptwat and Instagranny to communicate. I miss the ould messages so I do.

Message from 087…I don’t know the number. Oooooh the excitement.

“Hi Maaaaar-eeeaaaa.  Japonica* would like toooooo INVITE your Mini-Meeee TO HER Birthday Partay fullstop on Sat next at 3pim in Partywaaruld. I dooooo hope sheeeee can make it.  ex ex Exclamation mark”.

Mammy is instantly regretting hitting play. Not because of the text, but because Mini-Me has now HEARD the message. Let me explain. If she is able to attend a birthday party, I tend to NOT tell her about it until the day before. Because you see if anything were to come up and our plans had to change, I can not be dealing with the apoplectic melt-down that Mini-Me likes to have. Also, it is good parenting practice to have some blackmail/bait for behaviour rectification up one’s sleeve, is it not?

Shit shit shit shit, how shall Mammy get out of this one.

Mini-Me has not responded.  She is sitting quietly.  I’m about to engage with the idea that she hasn’t actually heard the message until I glance in the rear-view mirror and see that her jaw is actually on the floor.

“Oh My GOD Mammy! Did you HEAR that?”

“Hear what pet?” (shit)

“Roz has just invited me to my own birthday party on Saturday!”

“Huh?” (fookity fook…)

“Your friend Roz has just told you that I have to go to my birthday party on Saturday!”

“WHY would you be having a birthday party on Saturday?  It’s not your birthday!”

“But she said “HER” birthday. Maybe I’m having a party for my 6 and 3/4 birthday!” (WTF?)

“You are not 6 and 3/4 and you are not having a birthday party on Saturday.”

“But if it isn’t MY birthday, why are we having a party?”

“We’re NOT having a party…”

“Oh my Pancake Mammy!” (Yes, this is something we say apparently…)  “Is Roz having a party?”

“Roz is a car”

“Yeah, but she’s real.  Sure how would she know about my party if she wasn’t?”

“We aren’t having a party.  Japonica is having a party. Roz is just reading the message from Japonica’s mummy.”

“DOh my GOSH!? Is Roz friends with Japonica’s Mammy too?”

What does Mammy even say to that? And what exactly does she think Roz is? Does she think I carry a little Gollumesque little American woman around under the bonnet?

I don’t by the way, but I also am trusting Roz less and less.  I’m foreseeing some I-robot shit going down some evening, where I decide I’m going one place, and Roz decides I’m not.

Now, to delete some numbers off my phone!

I am Shouting in my Car Mum

It’s Rally Weekend.

Yay…

Can you sense my enthusiasm?

(Swearing alert. If your eyes are easily offended, click on by!) 😘😘

I found myself talking out loud to some other drivers on the road last night.

Here are some of the things that, usually, I would have said in my Car every year over Rally weekend.  But obviously, because of my walking-talking swear jar and Little miss Repeatyarse in the back seat, I can’t indulge as usual this year.  Instead, let me get them out of my system here…
“WTF is THAT yok?”

“Is that even a real car?”

“Shit there must be a checkpoint…nope… just GOBSHITES holding up the traffic.”

“Are you for real? Dumbass…”

“You’re not an ACTUAL FUCKING RALLY DRIVER YOU TWAT!”

“Did I SAY you could pull out in front of me?”

“Go ahead there. Pull on out! You were going anyway. I’ll just sit here shall I?”

“You’re driving a CAR, not a feckin aeroplane, you twat.”

“There are more wings on thon yok than there are wheels”.

“WTF?  Am I invisible?”

“Did you not SEEEEEEE my big fucking car?”

“Oh yeah, you are soooooooooo cool.  brrrrrrm brrrrrrrrm…Dickhead.”

“Did you not SEEEEEEE my indicator?”

“Did you stick a tumbledrier onto your car wee pet?”

“How can he even see over the fucking wheel?”

“Thon buck’s lying down.  Look! He’s driving the car, lying on his back!?”

“That car’s driving itself!  Oh wait, no,  There’s a wee head there.”

“Brrrrrrrm  BBBROOOOOOOOOOMM  BRRRRRMMMMMMMM”

“OMG. You are SOOOOOOOOOOOOO cool…”

“Gobshite.”

“Stupid twat.”

“Don’t you fecking dare pull out there.”

“YOU ARE NOT IN THE FUCKING RALLY!”

“Oh is there an invisible lane for DICKHEADS?”

“GET OFF MY ASS YOU TWAT.”

“WTF?”

(In fairness, I have been known to say quite a few of these things at other drivers, every other weekend of the year too. )😂😂
NOW.  Let me clarify.
I have nothing against the rally.  🚘🚘🚘
The ACTUAL rally.
Where the qualified and experienced sports people rally as safely as they can, within the realms of the RALLY. Where the “sport” of rallying is carried out properly and the drivers are respectful of the roads and the people who live on them.  I love the buzz and business it brings to the town.  I don’t follow it myself, but I don’t HAVE to.  I get what people love about it and it’s fantastic for our county.
It’s a brilliant event, well run and exciting for those who follow it. 🖒🖒
What I hate however, are the Gobshites who THINK they are in the rally. 😡😡😡

Who declare themselves Rally Fans, when really it’s just an excuse for them to stand around  comparing the size of their knobs and pipes at various locations, nowhere NEAR the ACTUAL rally.

Who pollute our ears with their stupid car growls and revving at every opportunity.

Who for some reason think it’s cool to make circles and 8s all over our lanes and roadways in the middle of the night, while the REAL rally drivers are in bed..

Who THINK they are in the rally, even though they go NOWHERE near the stage that day. Who make us have to reconsider using certain roads on our journeys because we know that that is where they like to meet up and pretend to be rally drivers.

Who risk the lives of others because, well, because they’re gobshites really.
Yeah.   So, I don’t like the TWATS.
And now, because I am a LAYDEE, (and I have vented here), my little Darlings shall not have to listen to my colourful language in the car.  Instead, they can watch all the cool, colourful, ACTUAL rally cars and Mammy can practice her lipsync skills in the front seat.
Go on.  What are your favourite things to say/shout in your car?

And if you don’t shout at other drivers, we probably can’t be friends anymore.
Good luck to the REAL rally drivers in the REAL rally by the way. And to the ACTUAL rally fans who FOLLOW the rally,   I do hope you all have a safe and brilliant weekend.
I won’t shout at YOU, I promise. 😂