When it comes to cars, perhaps the one thing I’ve paid the least attention to is the roadside assistance package. Mag wheels, spoilers, off-roading capability – these are the things I’m interested in…it’s not that I don’t value emergency preparedness, it’s that I’m fortunate to have a superhero for a dad who has gotten me out of every conceivable vehicular mess I’ve ever been in and who, virtually from the moment I got my driver’s license, handed me NOT my own car but a CAA (or AAA in the US) membership card. I was given a physical representation of “responsible” rather than the teenage dream of a brand new car wrapped with a shiny red bow…would a library card be next?
But as teenagers, what do we really know anyway?
In our teens, our hormones have us wired to be adventure seeking daredevils – well at least they did me – ready to push some boundaries and certainly prepared to aggravate my parents’ collective temper and anxiety. In fact, I recall going out with a friend on an “unauthorized road trip” significantly out of the city where we blew a fuse and had to use a flashlight as a proxy for headlights on a small highway with no streetlights just to get home…
With time and age, that CAA card has come to represent much more than the boring gift of responsibility. I have come to appreciate it as my father’s acceptance that his daughters (yes, my sister got one too) would be released to explore the world.
My parents witnessed my many road trips to visit friends and head off to new opportunities in different cities, and all the while they took comfort that their daughter had that magic card in her wallet – to this day, my dad still pays for my CAA card and after the very first long weekend this summer, boy was I ever glad.
Once again Mr. Niceguy had signed up for an obstacle course this time one developed by US Navy Seals and I swear he’s living out his dreams of being a super “double-0” agent! I admire him tremendously; a former cheeseburger and beer connoisseur, Mr. Niceguy is now in the best shape of his life thanks to an unwavering dedication and discipline to improving his physicality.
Incidentally Mr. Niceguy is also a constant reminder to me that I need to get off my duff and do a leg lift or put aside my third coffee and croissant…
So off we went, kids in tow, to the Bone Frog event in Charlemont, Massachusetts; aka the middle of nowhere about 2.5 hours outside of Boston. This trip would do us some good as we would be giving my poor parents a break from our collective craziness and the 9 year old and 6 year old would have an opportunity to visit with some cousins. Plus, travelling is in my blood and who doesn’t love Boston?
A lazy start to the day had us hit the road about two hours behind schedule but we were in no rush and were enjoying our conversation – all made possible by the liquification of our children’s brains in the backseat thanks to a portable DVD player, the iPad and Nintendo. I’ll go on record and say that I encouraged said liquification, though I did make them stop and look out the window as we passed some cows and horses.
Suddenly Mr. Niceguy said, “I’m losing power.” Of course the first thing I thought was, what have YOU done to my beloved car?!?!?!?! And, ugh! Just get out of the driver’s seat and let me take over! But when he said, “we’re overheating” and I saw the white smoke coming out from under the hood, I realized we were in trouble.
Thank goodness for my superdad, and my CAA card. At that moment, that card meant I didn’t have to panic – even though I did, a little…ok, a lot. While I made the necessary calls to get us on our way, despite my state of disbelief, calm, cool and collected Mr. Niceguy treated the boys to a little adventure in the middle of nowhere. He took out our jackets and made a picnic blanket for the boys to sit on, brought them their crayons and colouring books, and turned our mishap into a memory.
Two hours later we were back on our way in a rental that was clearly loaned out to an owner of a kennel and despite the allergic reactions of Mr. Niceguy and the 6 year old as well as my asthma flare up, we were able to accomplish all of our weekend plans.
It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, though. While the boys did get an adventure, I got anxiety – particularly when the 9 year old exclaimed, “Awesome! What car do we buy next?” and every part of my insides were screaming OH MY GOD!!!!! Mr. Niceguy ignored my thoughts of impending doom and said the following, “How lucky are we that this happened on a major highway and in daylight?” and “Thank goodness we didn’t hit a deer” also, “Lucky the car didn’t burst into flames, right?” Hrrrrmmmppphhhh….
I resisted the urge to “pull a Mike Tyson”…and a good thing I did because once the nerves settled I could hear what he was saying, this cool surfer dude, and I allowed myself to get swayed. Each time I would revert back to my panic, he would make a joke like, “at least the tow truck driver wasn’t a serial killer” and I would go through my cycle again: Tyson, no don’t do it, it’s not so bad, I can be cool too, but can I really, panic again, insert Mr. Niceguy…
So there it is. I know I’m not being totally fair to myself when I say that my crazy often needs the balance of both my superdad and my super cool surfer dude. Sure I can be cool to but in the wise words of my mom-in-law, thanks to my wonderfully calm, cool, collected and highly wise men in my life, I can take wings. Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there – YOU are the best gifts!