When my husband and I were first married almost twenty years ago, we had most of our fights in the car. This was because he refuses to look at maps, he has no natural sense of direction, he does not immediately step on the brakes when brake-lights turn red in front of us, and he occasionally says to me, “Can I get over?” even though I am the passenger, completely not paying attention to the road. (None of this is because I am irrationally sequential, prone to irritability and easily exasperated.)
He says I just don’t trust him, which is not true at all. He reminds me that men and women have different perceptions of distances, which may be true. But it doesn’t make me feel less like we’re going to bash into the cars in front of us when they slow down and we do not.
However, age has mellowed us and I keep my lips zipped more than I used to do. Why have the same argument over and over when you can just avert your eyes and concentrate on your novel?
Here’s the only mini-argument we had. We stopped at a service station because the 4-year old insisted she needed to pee even though we hadn’t driven more than an hour since the last time she peed. So, we stopped at a service station. He parked in what I insisted was a parking spot, but he didn’t believe me, so he stayed in the van to “guard” it while I and the four children went in.
My daughter and I went into the bathroom and when we came out, the boys were gone. I thought that was amazing since there are three of them. How did they pee so fast? So, I let Grace pick out a candy bar, got my husband the Diet Dr. Pepper he’d wanted, selected a Diet Coke for myself and Hot Tamales for him and said to the guy behind the counter, “So, my boys left already?” and he said, “Yes.” Then before I finished paying, he said, “Oh, there they are.” They appeared again and then my husband appeared and I paid for a cup of ice and my husband said, “What are you doing?” there was a brief flurry of confusion and tense words and finally, when the boys peed and picked out a snack I said to them, “I’m going to wait to yell at you until we get outside,” and so I did.
The boys, apparently, discovered the men’s bathroom occupied. So they each bought a drink and went back to the car. Meanwhile, I’m still in the bathroom. The children appear at the van with drinks and my husband says, “Did you pee?” and they admit they did not. So he sends them back inside. He must have thought that I okayed this non-peeing, drink-buying and so he marched in to find out what was going on . . . how was I to know? I’d been peeing! And supervising peeing! And washing my hands without soap and drying them on my jeans because this was a service station.
So, I gave this little lecture to the kids: “When we stop, you pee! Always! And don’t do that again, what you just did because now your dad is mad at me!”
When we were all underway, my daughter piped up and said something like, “Mom said you’re mad at her Dad,” and he said, “No, I’m not mad, but when we stop, you need to pee!”
And then all was well again in the world. Those kind of arguments are the worst because they are based on misunderstanding and magnified when your bladder is full (kind of like how crabby I was tonight with the kids because I was still wearing a wet swimsuit as I was barking orders at them). Forgive, forget, move on.
Then we saw Mt. Shasta.
All told, we were traveling for eleven hours today. We left at 9:15 a.m. and arrived in Red Bluff at 8:30 p.m. And tomorrow, we do this all over again, only in more traffic.