They Listen

Every morning that I drive Toddler Harbat to school I have to get through a four-way stop.  Sounds simple, but this intersection is made worse by two factors.  One, there’s an elementary school on the corner that starts session right when I’m trying to drop off TH.  Two, one of the roads makes a little jog as it goes through the intersection.  At 7:45 each morning this intersection becomes the nexus of parents walking kids to school, crossing guards, and cars trying to get through.  Just imagine you’re a driver queued up at this intersection.  The stop sign has an “All-Way” sign posted just below the familiar red octagon.  You’ve been inching along towards the intersection and watching cars ahead of you alternate as they weave through.  The car ahead of you goes.  What do you do?

If you’re like half of the people driving through there each morning, you gun it and try to follow immediately behind the person ahead of you.  Presumably the orange-vested crossing guards don’t dissuade you, the three-foot tall almost invisible children running across the street don’t stop you, and the dozens of bystanders ready to photograph and litigate when you run over someone, that doesn’t stop you either.  Because by God, you shouldn’t have to wait like everyone else, so why should you alternate at a four-way stop?

[sigh] Every morning I have to survive this intersection and avoid getting broadsided by some dimwit who just doesn’t get it.  And each morning I say something like, “Yo!  Hold on, idiot!”  Now Toddler Harbat is beginning to copy me, lambasting other drivers as they race through the intersection when it’s not their turn.  Because each morning, Toddler Harbat is sitting in the back seat and listening to me talk to other drivers.  She hears my tone, listens to the words, and thinks that it’s okay to speak in a firm authoritative voice to people in cars.  And sometimes call them names.  Kids listen and learn and even when you think they’re not paying attention, they are.  They want to emulate you, and if you want your kid to be a good person, be a good person.  That applies to driving too.

One final note.  If you don’t know what to do when you see this sign, please walk, don’t drive, to the nearest body of water and throw your car keys in there.

Writer, architect, father, husband.

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One comment on “They Listen
  1. akamonsoon says:

    Oh goodness, so true that they’ll repeat what you say, and sometimes at the most inopportune time. I remember being at a crowded restaurant years ago with my sister, her inlaws, and my toddler niece. Suddenly and without warning my niece started yelling, G-d dammit, at the top of her lungs. Everyone stared at my sister as if she were the worst parent in the world. In fact my niece had heard it from a relative on her Dad’s side. We just ignored her and once she realized she weren’t going to make a big deal out of it she stopped saying it. It was quite embarrassing though!

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