Twelve-year old daughters are a blessing. And a pain in the keister. The latter is why D1 was almost dumped out of the car on the way to Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house. It was nothing specific that nearly caused me to send her packing, just her general preteen conduct coupled with my hunger pangs. If it were not for traffic, serial killers, and DCFS, I probably would have invited her exit from my vehicle. Oh, for the good ol’ days when parents could boot their daughters out of the car to hike home…
It was an especially warm summer afternoon as our station wagon traversed the 15-mile route from church to home. My younger sisters Jackie and Christine had been aggravating me for miles. It reached a point where, despite my mature 13-years of age, I could restrain myself no longer.
The sweltering temperatures aided me in developing a pristine plan. With no air-conditioning in the car, we traveled with all the windows rolled down, our long strands whipping around in the tornado-like winds forming untold numbers of hair knots. And so I put the plan in motion, with fingers wide and straight I inserted my hands into their tangled tresses, one on the left, one on the right, simultaneously pull, and listen to them howl! I tried to suppress the wicked smile that formed across my lips, but the pleasure was too great. Naturally, payback was not long coming. In went their fingers into my mane, and thus the fight ensued. Stern motherly warnings from the front seat did nothing to temper our turmoil. We were at war by now and even Mom could not stop this battle. Dad on the other hand…
The 1974 grey Dodge station wagon came to a sudden, neck-jerking halt and so did our fighting. “What was he thinking?” we wondered. “Outta the car girls,” Dad spoke matter-of-factly, opening his car door. Okay – that was not expected. With nervous stomachs we slid off the sticky, black vinyl seats, terrified of the punishment awaiting us. We were standing on the side of the road presenting our most innocent-looking faces when Dad told us to shut our car door. Then he climbed back in the driver’s seat, and in the most unexpected move of all, drove away.
We stood there in brief amazement and then dashed after the family vehicle that was growing less and less significant in the distance. Panting and out of breath we finally stopped when the station wagon vanished over a small hill in the distance. Looking around, trying to hold back the tears, we realized that having just reached the edge of town, we were probably two-miles from home. After spending a fair amount of time blaming each other for our unfortunate situation, we grouped together to determine a plan. They were just trying to scare us, we assured ourselves, our parents would be back for us soon. So we seated ourselves on the roadside gravel and waited.
Some time passed and then, without saying much, we finally stood up and started the inevitable trek home. A two-mile journey in the afternoon sun in your church shoes is pretty bad. But not as awful as the embarrassment you feel when your school friends whisk by with their loving families that drive them home from church. “Do you think they saw us?” I asked. “Ummm, three girls walking all alone on an empty road,” Jackie sarcastically reasoned, “How could they not.”
We learned a few things that afternoon. Among them included, 1) If you are going to fight with your sisters while in the car, do so only when wearing your tennis shoes, 2) Even normally predictable parents can sometimes surprise you, and 3) A long walk in the muggy Iowa heat can turn enemies into best friends.
Too bad for D1 that overcrowded roads, criminals, and government agencies have ruined those types of teaching moments.