Chart Number 017

September 16, 2011

By Ekta R. Garg

On Monday my husband experienced a terrifying event: as he drove to work, his car’s brake pedal, gas pedal, and steering wheel all stopped working.  As he drove uphill.

Fortunately he was driving early in the morning and traffic was minimal.  After managing to guide the car to the side of the road and calling a tow truck, his car eventually ended up at the dealership because of a recalled engine block.  Subsequently he and I went to a rental car company in the evening recommended by the service technician at the dealership, and we picked up a car for my husband to use for work for the three days it would take for his car to be fixed.

The service technician gave us an original estimate of the car being ready by Thursday morning, but on Wednesday evening he called and said after putting one of his mechanics on our car all day he’d managed to get it finished earlier than expected.  Could we come and pick it up?

We couldn’t.  On Wednesday my husband had a long day and didn’t even leave the hospital until 7 p.m.   So yesterday the onus fell upon me to make the switch.  My husband came back on Wednesday night from a late day and a hospital dinner and then moved the car seats from my car to the rental so he could take my car and I could return the rental and bring home his baby (the third one, after Five and Three.)

Yesterday, as I helped Five get ready for school, I told her we would be riding in the “silver” car to school, and she seemed intrigued by the idea.  The real fun didn’t begin, though, until both girls sat in the car and we were on our way.

The girls have sat in small cars before; this certainly isn’t the first time they’ve had to shift to my husband’s Honda Civic, a four-door sedan, when my Odyssey (a van) was out of commission for one reason or the other.  But this car on Thursday morning was new!  And it was silver!  How cool is that?  I guess the Odyssey’s sleek charcoal gray or the Civic’s sporty blue no longer holds any fascination for them.

Aside from the color, the girls love being physically closer to one another.  In the Odyssey they each sit in a car seat strapped into a bucket seat, with ample room between the seats for an adult to cross to the bench seat in the back.  Now that the girls are older (and taller and have longer arms,) sitting in their separate seats doesn’t pose so much of a challenge when it comes to sharing items in the duration of a car ride.

But riding in a (comparatively) smaller car is fun.  It makes passing snacks, stuffed animals, Kleenexes, and a variety of other objects to each other that much easier.  And in those rare instances when the girls are feeling a higher level of affection for one another, holding hands across the intervening space doesn’t seem so hard.

So the girls thoroughly enjoyed the car ride to school yesterday, exclaiming at being closer together and laughing and chatting.  Then Five commented how the window seemed much clearer.

“What do you mean?” I asked, anticipating that she would say the Odyssey’s windows were dirty (the car desperately needs a good scrub from the outside.)

“Because of the shade in your car,” she replied.

Ah.  The designers at Honda thoughtfully included a roll-up shade for the side rear doors in the Odyssey that was a blessing in the Texas heat.  On those seldom occasions the weather there cooperated somewhat, we would roll down the shades and the girls would have an expansive view from their middle seats.  Since moving to Salt Lake City we’ve experienced markedly cooler weather, and it truly didn’t occur to me that maybe the girls didn’t need their shades so much anymore.

As we drove on the highway to school, both girls remarked on the various billboards and vehicles they saw.  And for a few minutes, I forgot about my husband’s near accident.  I forgot that we were in the middle of a tussle with the Honda corporate office to cover the cost of the rental that the dealership wouldn’t cover.  I forgot about having to skip my morning workout so I could get my husband’s car back and not let it sit at the dealership for another day.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the girls’ conversations every morning and afternoon as we’ve gone from home to school and back, but yesterday morning reinforced the importance of the small things.  Young children have the most arresting method of reminding the adults in their lives that appreciating a simple drive down the highway and the view out a clear window could very well be the most important part of the day.  In the high-speed chase of our life, these reminders become tantamount.

So, the next time you’re driving (and get to a red light) take a minute to look out the window.  You just might see something new.

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