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Mommy's Little Back-Seat Drivers

Last month was Safety Month at
Madeleine’s school, and she learned a lot. A fire truck
visited and Maddie got to climb all over, they did tornado drills,
they talked about policemen and more. The class even learned about
road safety, and gave “tickets” to all the staff at the

I suppose this is the point at which Maddie became intensely
interested in all aspects of highway safety, because now
she’s a bigger worrier and more annoying back-seat driver
than my 91-year-old grandmother.

“Mom, I think we’re going too
fast,” she’ll say worriedly as we pass another car
– creeping along at 20 miles an hour.” “No,
honey, we’re not going too fast,” I’ll explain
patiently for the 100th time, “we’re just going faster
than that car. It’s ok.”

I spent almost an hour last weekend explaining the intricacies of
stoplights, stop signs, right-of-ways, right-turn-on-red, and the
difference between turning left on an arrow and a plain green
light. The next day, we pulled up to make a left turn and Maddie
said, “Are we going to get an arrow?” For whatever
reason, we didn’t, and I pulled forward to begin turning on
the green light. “We don’t have an arrow, but we can
turn left on a regular green light as long as no one else is
coming,” I explained, blinker on. “I think I’d
rather us wait until we’ve got an arrow, Mom,” Maddie
said concernedly.

Ten minutes later, the old lady- I mean, my daughter –
worried our way through a right-turn-on-red. Then she wondered
aloud at all the cars “speeding” by us on the freeway
while I entered the highway and built up my speed to match theirs.

I could grit my teeth and live with this, but of course
Maddie’s infecting Cora now as well. I think I’ve got
the only two-year-old who sees a car starting to enter the highway
next to us and shrieks, “Yield! You have to yield!”
Cora’s other big fear is that the car is going to tip over
when we turn, so she’s always imploring me to slow down as I
turn so we don’t “fall”. I’ve tried to
explain that she falls a bit inside the car but the car won’t
ever fall. So far I’ve been, um, unsuccessful.

I know that this, like everything else, is just a phase and will
pass in time. I just hope it passes soon. My nerves can’t
take much more back-seat driving; we may end up with a mandatory
blindfold rule for all car trips soon.


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