We are lucky to live in the northeastern part of the United States of America, where it has snowed in June. Many of my mid spring birthdays have been postponed or canceled due to unimaginable blizzards. As a kid, there was nothing more glorious than snow. But when it fell thick enough to cause a white out on the day that was meant to celebrate yourself, you hated it. As an adult I feel roughly the same way. The white powder falling from the sky inspires awe and creativity within me. The realistic part of my brain shoves forward though, reminding me how quickly the smallest pieces of beauty can gather to form a death trap. Maybe I’m over exaggerating. In reality, I don’t mind driving in the snow. Being raised in Vermont (and taught to drive in Vermont during “Vermont Weather”) has given me a sense of entitlement to the roads while they are snow covered. I bravely yet cautiously pull onto the worst roads I can find and get on with my business for the day. Nothing usually stops me. That is, nothing would stop me as long as I was in my car. If I had to trek the snow covered land on foot, forget it, I’m dead. I probably would have been the first one eaten in the Donner party. Well, second. Someone needed to suggest cannibalism (after all have you ever eaten a shoe…bleh).
After having Jude my driving habits changed a bit. He was born in the later part of December. Snow fell gently on the morning he arrived. He came out and we literally laid him in the snow, christening him a Vermonter. I dripped ice cold water on his face and declared: that as long as he followed my lead, he would be a good driver in any condition. Don’t believe me? I have a picture of his tiny shaking snow angel to prove it.
Anyway, I remember the first time I was alone in the car with Jude. I gave Alaina a much deserved break when he was two weeks old. To be honest, I felt like there was a stranger in the back of my car. Up to this point, I had known anybody that ever rode with me. Talk about awkward, what do you talk to a two week old about? With the recession as old news and any other world event irrelevant to his existence, he was a terrible conversationist. We were traveling down the interstate when the snow hit. The storm wasn’t anything big, not really even a storm, just a bit of snow. Something in my mind changed though. I can’t quite explain it. I felt the need to be a little more cautious and a little less distracted. A nuclear war head could have hit Jude’s car seat and he would have survived (Granted, what a kind of a world would it be….) but ultimately his safety was in my hands. Even my wife had a choice every time she got in the car. She took eight years of knowing me and my driving into consideration when she strapped herself in for the ride. But Jude knew nothing of my history. He was essentially being forced to sit in the back of the car. I felt like I should have told him about the time I flew off the road when I was 17 because I was driving to fast for the conditions or how just two years before, I had been sandwiched between two minivans because we were all following each other to close (there’s actually much more to the that accident with it being the lead drivers fault, but its just easier to say we were all at fault. There was no damage or injury…maybe this should have been a foot note). Against his will, he was choosing to trust me. It occurs to me now that the easiest way to gain someones trust is to take them for a drive at two weeks old.
We made it through that trip. Since then, we’ve driven through worse weather on worse roads. There’s this awesome half gone dirt road on the way to my father in laws house where I can actually feel the wheels falling off the “path”. When I look in the rearview mirror, Jude’s smiling. He trusts that his “dada” has made the right judgment calls in his driving and that his “mamama” has made the right judgment call in her husband. My own father was an incredible driver in the snow. I still laugh at the fact that he would occasionally, intentionally fish tail the minivan or skid across the ice so the three of us in the back could whoop and holler in joy (while my mother screamed in fear). And I must emphasize that he did these things as safe as he could. There was never any real danger when he did them. Those are the days I’m waiting for. When I can intentionally and safely pull cool tricks in the snow so I can hear my kids laugh (or scream, that also seems fun).
On a side note: A few weeks back Alaina said it sucked that we had traction control because it wouldn’t allow the car to fish tail or blow donuts. Calmly, I told her that it doesn’t turn on when you do them in reverse.
I am sure there will be a time when we get into an accident. It’s bound to happen, whether by weather or by carelessness on another drivers part. There are a million and a half things that could happen while driving to result in an accident (see above: nuclear warhead). On that day I will feel confident that I did as much as I could in order to protect my family in the car. Children learn from example. They will ultimately understand that I can’t protect them from everything the universe throws our way but they will still trust me. And from every experience, they will grow.