Tuesday, February 15, 2011

5 Minutes that Mattered

What 5 minutes would you give your kids?

Over at The Red Dress Club they've started a new Memoir feature on Tuesdays.  Hey, ya'll know me, I can *do* memoir.  Their first prompt was this:  after you have died, your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see?

Maybe there are more noble moments in my life.  Certainly there are more touching, more gentle, more 'me' moments in my life.  But when asked what 5 minutes should my kids know about me ?  This is what instantly came to mind.

I knew immediately which 5 minutes I wanted my kids to know about me.  Five minutes that instantly foretold what courage laid within me, that I would fight the fights in which my kids needed me, that I wouldn't always worry about not rocking the boat, that I absolutely would stand my ground when I needed to.


I heard it before I felt it.  A screeching, whining gut wrenching sound of sheet metal scraping against sheet metal.

My equilibrium shifted along with the front corner of my Ford Ranger, angling up off its front wheel,  lifted by the sheer force of the school bus grinding along my front left corner.  I watched a wall of bright yellow travel the arc of its lane change, scraping along my truck the entire time.

The stupid green pickup truck.  The ridiculous truck that I carpooled my younger brother back and forth to school in.  My father and brothers had insisted that guys dig girls in pickups! but I didn't buy it.  (Still don't.)

I sat in shock at the red light, looking at my brother with goggle eyes, speechlessly gaping my mouth with the unsaid question hanging:  Did that bus just hit us?!?! 

I did hate that pickup.  I hated it with all the passion a spoiled suburban parochial school girl could muster.  But I knew in that suspension of time, in that split-second of hanging between present and future, that there was no future that involved me walking into my house and  telling my dad I'd banged up his precious truck.  Knew with certainty that my protestations of but but but! BIG! YELLOW! BUS! would hold no water with the person who paid the insurance.

Here's what you need to know about your 17 year old mom, my treasures:

At the next stoplight, I hopped out of the driver's side, sprinted up to the school bus in front of me, and banged the crap out of the driver's window.  Banged until she was forced to slide open that 12x14 pane of glass and demand what the hell I wanted.

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com

The girl who never complained, the one who in her lifetime stoically endured all manner of insults, shouted up at that school bus driver that she'd just HIT MY TRUCK, and that she needed to hop on out of that yellow behemoth and come check it out. That ponytailed introvert planted herself there in the middle of Randolph Road until the Montgomery County police rolled up (this was in the long-ago days before camera phones and speed-dial 911 on your cell phones, dear children).

Insurance details were exchanged, accompanied by the diarrhea of complaint from the bus driver about my punk ass self makin' sure she was goin' to traffic court!  I practiced a steely stoicism that I'd need often in 20 years or so.

Your 14 year old uncle cringed with mortification, there in the cab of that pickup truck.  His sister didn't pull stunts like this.  But here's what you need to know:  I did.  Without a second's hesitation, I pulled a stunt like that.  Not for a show, not for the thrill, but because it was What. Had. To. Happen.

This, my cherubic offspring, tells you so very very much about all that your mother was to be.

That stupid pickup in happier times (me with my Norwegian)


hezro said...

Great story! Glad it had a happy ending!!

Emily @ remodelingthislife said...

I know I always seem to come here and only have one word to share: Love.

You say it so well it's like I am left thinking there are no words to even say how great it is.

Will you write a book someday?

Cheryl said...

Love this, Kirsten. Taking a stand, doing what's right, even if it's completely out of our comfort zone? Great lesson! SO glad you linked up!!

Veronica said...

Your 17 year old self rocked it! Good for you, I can't believe that bus driver hit you and then tried to complain that it was your fault she was in trouble!

Love the lesson, I need to take it to heart, I hate confrontation..

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