I learnt a valuable parenting lesson yesterday, when I was least expecting to. A series of events meant that all four of us were in the car together last night, on our way home, in a rush so I could get to bootcamp, when the car blew up. Ok, ok so it wasn’t nearly so dramatic but just after we had picked up Ron I noticed some smoke/steam and mentioned it to Ron, thinking it was coming from the exhaust, 100m later we realised the temperature gauge had gone up to HOT and I said to Ron that surely there should be a warning light on that to get our attention, 50m later, that warning light came on, I turned the corner, the car started to shudder and I pulled over.
Between noticing the steam, seeing the temp gauge rise and realising the engine light had come on there might have been some choice phrases uttered in the car. When I pulled into a conveniently located tyre place carpark and Ron got out to pop the bonnet, there might have been some deep breathing and shallow muttering. Nothing too full on, both girls were of course in the car with us. But it was only after we had come to a stop that I realised there were two very quiet, quite shocked looking little faces in the back. That was when I went into damage control function.
Amy was upset, not crying yet but visibly frightened and so despite my immediate reaction being a desire to simply burst into tears myself, I pulled myself together and got the girls out the back and sat down on the little wall of the carpark with them and said something cheery like: “wow girls, what an adventure we are having!” and gave them a big cuddle. Amy’s little shoulders relaxed instantly and we continued to joke and laugh and Ron joined in and soon we were all smiling and everything was ok again.
Except it wasn’t. Our radiator was pissing out green fluid and we had to wait for the roadside assistance and it was nearly 5pm and it was getting cold and our car was BROKEN which is EXPENSIVE and it all seemed overwhelming. What an amazing coincidence that we all happened to be together when this had happened. If the car had blown up a few hours earlier we would all four of us have been in different places, Ron at work with no bicycle, Amy at preschool and Stella at Julie’s house while I was in Epping doing some work at the Playgroup Toy Library. What would have happened then? But it didn’t happen then, it happened when we were all together as a family and Ron could take control of dealing with mechanics and tow trucks and I could take control of managing my girls fears about something big and scary happening which made Mummy and Daddy upset.
So even though I was filled with horror when the MEAN roadside assistance guy said in a cheery voice that we probably had blown a gasket, and even though it was getting late and dark and I was definitely going to miss bootcamp and the girls and I were going to have to get a bus home, even though our lovely car was going to get towed to our mechanics, who we like and trust, even though this was all going to cost money that we just don’t have. Even though all that was going through my head I knew I needed to just be there for my girls, to give them that sense of security and confidence, not to let them know that we were worried but instead to turn it all into an adventure and reassure them that they didn’t need to worry about our car, Mummy and Daddy would get it sorted. So we grabbed our bags and kissed Ron goodbye and waved to our car and RAN for the bus and managed to get on, breathless and sweaty and finally sat down at which point Stella just started to shout “Bah….thssss, bah…..thssss, bah…..thsss” because this was the first time she had ever been on one and she was loving it!
At home I made dinner and cuddled Amy and answered all her questions and reassured her that our car would be fine and laughed with her about our grand adventure and then I texted Ron and asked him to buy me a bottle of wine on his walk back from the mechanics and finally the girls were in bed and I was on my second glass of wine and could gain some perspective. Our car broke down, our girls are ok, we are ok, its all going to be ok.