Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Road Rage and Raising Rugrats: How to doom your children

A few months before I became pregnant with my first child I experienced a true horror. There's a nice, quiet, country road leading out of the seaside town that I live in. It's not uncommon to be tailgated from one end of this seven mile road to the other. Even when one is driving ten miles an hour over the speed limit. My husband and I usually just pull over and let the annoyed driver, who has often been one car length off our rear bumper for a mile or so, go by and therefore lowering our blood pressure back down to a normal rate.

Over the last two years I've begun to notice that more than half of the tailgaters are actually women, and most of them on their cell phones. My husband told me once that he actually has a female friend who claims to be uncomfortable unless she's right on someone's bumper. I have no idea why this is, but I can see it must be true by the number of clueless people who seem to kiss my bumper on a daily basis.

My horror occurred last winter, and it recently popped to the front of my brain when I was tailgated by yet another minivan with kids in the back and a mom on her cell phone. I was quietly driving 50 miles an hour in a 45 past a farm with horses huddled against a barn for warmth when I noticed an SUV literally one car length off my rear bumper. I cocked the rear view mirror to get a better look and it was a woman, on her cell phone, looking very annoyed that I wasn't going faster. Because it was winter there wasn't a cleared spot to pull over as the snow banks were right up to the edge of the road. Unless she pulled into a side street I was stuck with this woman for at least another four miles.

I could have sped up, but this stretch of road is often patrolled by bored country policemen with nothing else to do but hide behind a barn to nab you so I stuck to 50 in a 45. Still speeding. Well, I swear this women actually inched CLOSER to my bumper and I could clearly see her waving her arms around getting more annoyed with me and yelling something thankfully I could not hear. I stuck to 50 and slowed to 40 when the speed limit dropped to 35. Until I got to the red light at the end of the road. This is where I became completely horrified.

I was turing right. The SUV was going straight and pulled up next to me. I took a deep breath and turned to look the driver in the eye. She flipped me off. FLIPPED ME OFF. And then I saw it. Two kids in the back. Awake. Looking at me with a look of contempt. Those poor kids. They're gonna grow up just like their mom.

I want to think that they were rushing to the hospital to see an ailing grandparent. Or one of the kids was sick and they were going to the doctor. But I doubt it. The mom was just run-down, annoyed, grumpy, whatever. She probably needed a break from her bratty kids. And why were her kids so bratty?Well, look at her driving. Look at the way she flipped me off in front of them.

When I did become pregnant a few months later and had my first child that fall I made a vow to myself to never, ever, be that obnoxious to another human being in front of my daughter. Because if we want respectful children we must be respectful ourselves. Otherwise we'll have a whole generations of tailgaters flipping everybody off. So parents: BACK OFF. Teach your kids respect. Whether it be not tailgating, letting someone cross the street, not yelling at another driver who's following the law. Good behavior starts early and starts in places where you don't think it matters. Sure, my four-month-old won't be driving for another sixteen years but she sees everything I do. And I'd better make sure that I'm the best example I can be.


  1. Katie! This is another great article. Lets get these out in the world. Also I think we may be the last civil people in the world!

  2. Great post. There are many times I've made the mistake of yelling at a driver for tailgating me or something else and my daughter is in the backseat, hearing my every snarl. I needed this reminder. Thanks. :-)

  3. At least you're getting mad because someone's tailgating YOU. I think it's just fine to let kids know when other people are doing bad things. Far better than being the one doing a disrespectful thing in front of a child :)


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