Sunday, June 2, 2013

It the Hat Fits...

It dawned on me recently that my car is a great tool in my family's life. If cars wore hats, mine would have the standard issue headgear: The Get Kids to School Cap, the Get Me to Work Helmet, the Get Laundry to the Laundromat Do-rag, a Roadtrip! Tam, a DJ Gotta Dance in Our Seats to the Music Beanie...even an Ecosystem for Stale Fries and Metallic Juice Pouches Paper Hat Like Busboys Wore in the Old Days Hat.

But most noticeably of late, my car has been wearing a Lecture Hall Bishop Andrewes Cap (a mortarboard hat, basically)
This is NOT Bishop Andrewes. But it is a cap much like his. I assume.
I may be almost-old, but I don't actually remember back THAT far.
This is Lancelot Andrewes. He was a Bishop.
According to Wikipedia (from which I STOLE this pic! For shame):
"[Bishop Andrewes] has an academic cap named after him, known as the Bishop Andrewes cap, which is like a mortarboard but made of velvet, floppy and has a tump or tuff instead of a tassel. This was in fact the ancient version of the mortarboard before the top square was stiffened and the tump replaced by a tassel and button. This cap is still used by Cambridge DDs and at certain institutions as part of their academic dress.."
Now you know all you need to know about those damned hats. MOVING ON...

I have two school-age daughters. I have them in my car in the mornings and at night after work. It is the one place where, traffic not-withstanding, there are no interruptions or homework to finish, no dinner to cook...nothing to do but talk.

Hahahahahaaaa....a captive audience. 

The conversations begin simply enough. I ask how their day was, what was their favorite part. Did anything fun happen? Did they learn something new? Inevitably some comment they make in response sparks some need to impart great truths from my Vault of Experience that resonates with my Mom's Gotta Lecture gland.

It all hit me square between the eyes when Christopher Dorner was the subject of a heated manhunt in Southern California this past February. 

Somehow the subject of his capture (I use the term loosely) had been brought up when they got in the car. The kids faced me at the height of my passion about the news of Dorner being cornered in the local mountains. Earlier in the day I had fully supported shooting that bastard on sight, then immediately recanted my angry outburst. Later in my car, I reiterated my opinion (sans shooting the bastard bit) including a rant that every citizen has a right to trial, and even though there might be irrefutable evidence that someone IS guilty—even by their own speech or writing—until a jury of peers finds through evidence that a person is guilty, they are to be presumed innocent. I even cited the Skokie vs. Neo Nazis in the 70s (at the moment I cannot for the life of me recall how I managed to unfurl THAT bit of high-school history into the subject of apprehending a cop-killer). On and on I went, making sure my kids understood that as Americans they have inalienable rights set up by our Constitution. That even though our system seems to totally suck at this time and corruption and greed is everywhere, I still believe in our Constitutional Rights! Even getting to my parent's house 20 minutes later wasn't going to stop me (much as it has not stopped me here). I simply entered their home and recapitulated my viewpoint including spit, arm/hand gestures, and vigorous head nodding and/or shaking. I stood up and sat down alternately, depending on how loud my current point was getting.

Just kidding. I don't remember spitting. And, truth be told, that was a REALLY extreme example. Um...moving on...

And so it is that in my car, on the way to or from home (or other destinations), we have discussed bullies at school, seeing past people's appearances and (sometimes odd) behaviors, spirituality, God, prayer, the value of good education, history, government, sex, drug and alcohol use and abuse, the power of making good choices, the despair of making bad choices, how NOT to behave in lines at grocery stores ( was my own bad behavior I used as an example), oh it goes on and on. Except for Math. Math scares me almost as much as politicians.

Although I can almost feel my kid's eyes roll in their heads, they actually do listen. I get them to chime in, when  I remember children most engage in what their parents are saying when they are actually involved in what is being said. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes my passion takes over. Because I was teased in school...I was the weird one. I made bad choices growing up. And I found serenity and comfort in prayer and God...

And so, with my little imported, four-door podium on wheels I have found a place where I can take a few moments to have conversations about subjects I have had much experience with, some I simply have opinion about, but all are discussed with hope that my children won't make my mistakes. I can lecture, I can prepare them (and myself), and I can act in ways that back my talk (actions are ultimately louder than words, right?) BUT I also have to realize that they will grow up making their own mistakes AND good choices and someday they will have their own cars in which they will find freedom and a LOT of time to think from Point A to Point B. 

I hope sometimes—occasionally—when they are alone and thinking through a problem, maybe in their car they will remember a passionate oration (or even a simple word) that will help give them clarity. Maybe they will carry on the tradition of Car Lecturing. And hopefully laugh a little when they realize, "Holy shnikeys, I'm just like my mother!!!"

Awwww....passing the Mommy Car Hat's going to be wonderful.

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