Danielle Bean, a wife and mother of eight, is editorial director of Faith & Family magazine and author of My Cup of Tea, Mom to Mom, Day to Day, and most recently Small Steps for Catholic Moms. Read more of her blogging at Faith & Family Live and DanielleBean.com.
I was intrigued to read this blog post recently, which compares the dangers of driving while drunk to the dangers of driving while using a cell phone to the dangers of driving ... with kids in the back seat.
I know a thing or two about those kinds of dangerous distractions.
One day last fall, I drove a van full of kids home from an afternoon of shopping. It was pretty late, but I was in no hurry to get home.
As darkness fell, I made my way along winding roads, and the kids in the back seat began to entertain themselves. They usually do this by making lots of noise. This time, their noise took the form of reciting Finding Nemo as a group.
Now when I say “reciting” I really mean reciting. They took turns repeating every line and performing every scene of the entire movie. They were pretty good. (Please ignore what this says about the likelihood that I ever use the television as a babysitter.)
I was driving along, listening to their performance, and breaking up the occasional argument over whether Crush the turtle says “Give me some fin” or “Give me some flipper” (It’s fin, by the way) when flashing blue lights filled the van.
I pulled over.
“Do you know why I stopped you, Ma’am?” the nice young officer asked me, as he studied my license.
I wasn’t sure.
“You were all over the yellow line,” he enlightened me.
Hmmm. Was I?
“You haven’t had anything to drink this evening, have you?”
Obviously, I needed to clear this up.
“No,” I told him, “I’ve just got a bunch of kids in here.”
When he shined his flashlight into the back of the van, his eyes grew wide.
I started talking then, telling him all about the Finding Nemo performance, Dorry the forgetful fish, the turtles ... everything.
He stifled a laugh, handed me my license, and told me to drive home safely.
And so I learned an important lesson: Having a mess of kids in the car is a dangerous thing. Even when they are entertaining. Perhaps especially when they are entertaining.
Driving with distractions, whether they be cell phones or screeching toddlers, is dangerous business. I don’t know if I’ll go as far as this blogger and instill a “no talking to Mom while she’s driving” rule, but I must admit it’s tempting.
What parent couldn’t get behind that idea?