If you have seen an episode of Oprah within the past six months you will know one of her big kicks this season is the “No Phone Zone” challenge. She has challenged her audience, as well as guests, on her show to not talk or text on the phone while driving. She started this “No Phone Zone” challenge after she dedicated an entire show to the dangers of driving while using your phone. As a parent of three kids under the age of three, the safety of my children is paramount and I try my best to not talk on the phone or text while driving, even when I'm stopped at a light. Interesting though that Oprah’s show on car safety forgot to mention another highly distracting problem that happens in my car nearly every day. KIDS.
Those little buggers are darn distracting. If you are a parent you know what I am talking about. If your kid isn’t screaming about wanting something that you don’t have the power to give them, say teleporting a grandparent into the back seat with them, then you are trying to get some food item into a close proximity of said child so they can grab it and give their mouth something to do. During the “No Phone Zone” show, Oprah showed video of people driving while texting or talking on the phone. It was shocking how much time people were cruising along in their vehicle at 70 mph without ever looking up at the road. I am scared to look at a similar video set up that replaces the cell phones with kids, as I am sure I spend more time than I think trying to keep the boys happy.
Maybe learning how to drive and keep the munchkins in the back happy is a skill that comes with age. I remember those long family vacation drives where I fought tooth and nail with my sister about how much of the seat in the back was mine. Remember the imaginary line, and if you crossed that line, you were going to get punched in the shoulder. It would take about 30 seconds before somebody would cross that line, and the punching would begin.
I am sure with three boys we are going to experience something very similar in the not too distant future. I will be forced to get a couple of pointers from my dad on the art of driving and disciplining the children at the same time. He had an amazing ability to keep the car on the road and administer swift justice, doing it all without losing a second off of our itinerary. I have yet to acquire this skill, and am forced to resort to turning around, which takes my eyes off the road to toss cookies at the kid in the way back, just to keep him happy.
These cookies also serve as a way of bribing The Boy into providing status reports on the Twin-kies, such as: Are they sleeping? Do they have pacifiers in their mouths? Is the sun in the one of the Twin-kies eyes? Always one to go above and beyond, The Boy will also report that “babies are screaming,” since he's not sure if I can hear the crying coming from less than a foot behind me.
I guess for the moment, tossing food items at my kids, in the same way a zookeeper tosses bananas at monkeys to get them to do trick, is what I have resorted to for the safety of my family while driving my car. Just another role I play each day while being a dad, a zookeeper who's training monkeys while commuting to work. I wonder if the zoos have the same problem with the ants that my car seems to have developed.
a. minor baker
A. Minor Baker is the father of three boys and a soon-to-be-born fourth child. He and his wife Sarah live in Austin, Texas -- the starting point of many exciting adventures for their clan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org