Sometimes, I wage an inner war with my school-psychologist-self and my bad-ass, real-life self. At my job, I always feel compassion toward the students with whom I work. And my heart hurts when I think of their parents, as many have had to readjust their goals for their child based on their child’s particular special needs.
As I read over that last sentence, I start to feel a smidgen of guilt. A morsel of shame.
But then I think of that damn car, and my bad-ass real life self takes over.
What car, you ask?
Well, lets start at the beginning . . .
We live in a lovely neighborhood. It’s lovely primarily because the neighbors are wonderful people. They always wave hello, they bring you a meal if you’ve just had a baby (note to self: have baby before dinnertime tomorrow night), they help you build a swingset, they place your kid’s toys on your front porch if you leave them abandoned in the street after marching your tantruming son inside for a time-out, etc. Many of us moved in around the same time, so we’ve kind of “grown up” together in this neighborhood.
Well, somewhere prior to Christmas, the fun-but-quiet exotic neighbors (and by exotic, I mean they have a British accent and say things like “shhhhed-u-al” and “holiday”) sold their house and moved to a neighborhood that I heard has a fantastic pool and some tennis courts. Then my husband found out through a source at work that the husband/father of the family moving in is a big-shot who works in the same building as my husband, although they don’t know each other personally. Drew encourages me to make them feel welcome so I send over a tin of home-made fudge one evening, care of my husband and kids as they take a nightly stroll. He returns and says they’re “nice”, but he gives me a look that suggests he might think they are weird. Whatever—some people might say we’re weird too.
Well, then comes winter break. Which means that school-aged children are home during the day. Expensive gifts are given for Christmas. And since we live in the south, the weather doesn’t prohibit said children from spending inordinate amounts of time outside with their expensive gifts.
Not to be too specific, but lets just say that one of the residents of this home is a brown-haired, braces-wearing, large-framed, fourteen year old boy whom I will call . . . FLK (Educators understand what I’m trying to say here. And don’t judge me, because you know you’ve used this acronym too. Otherwise, how else would you know what it means? And no, I didn’t tell you what it means, so don’t start that rumor.).
Well, FLK received a remote-controlled car.
Hmmm. That doesn’t sound like a big deal. I mean, tons of kids have remote-controlled cars, right? Even Decky has one that he zips around on the patio a few times per week.
Well, this one is gas-powered. Apparently that makes a big difference. These cars are ridiculously loud. Like, louder than a full-sized motorcycle. The first day he drove that thing around the noise frightened the kids to the point that they cowered at the bedroom window with their hands over their ears, expecting an entire fleet of military aircraft to land in our backyard. After a while, FLK drove the car around the corner and terrorized the other neighborhood children. We could still hear it from other streets but the sound wasn’t so unremitting. Dylan perseverated on the noise, talking about it endlessly for the remainder of the day.
Next day. Repeat. Next day. Repeat.
And what time do you think FLK prefers to drive this car around? Yep. Naptime. Well, to be more accurate, 15 minutes after Dylan falls asleep. ZOOOOOOMMMMM-ZOOOM-ZOOOOOOMMMM. Dylan would lurch awake, shrieking, “Too loud! Mommy, I scared!”
Well, that just blew my quiet time all to hell.
After three or four days of this, I had HAD it. I was going to drive my car over that (bleepen) thing if I heard it one.more.time. Or kill FLK in a fit of justified rage and be forced to bury his body in the backyard of Crazy Lady (another gem of a neighbor).
Well, I heard it one.more.time. As I was beginning to plot FLK’s upcoming murder, I called Drew to ask his opinion on how I should best do it. He suggested that I put my murderous thoughts on hold and go over and speak to FLK’s parents. He also reminded me that because of FLK’s father’s close association with his work, it would not behoove me to go over there with a weapon.
Since I am, ultimately, a rational person, I agreed to this less violent plan.
That evening, I keep watching the driveway for the return of their cars from work. I see them pull into their driveway and hustle outside, slowing as I approach their driveway so I don’t appear stalker-ish. I smile graciously, introduce myself, and make small talk. They thank me for the home-made fudge. I chuckle modestly. We chat about our respective Christmases. Finally I mention the car and wonder if maybe FLK could refrain from using it during nap time? After all, several houses on our street have small children. His parents quickly and earnestly apologize and assure me that FLK is a “nice boy” who is happy to respect the napping schedule of our youth. We decide that the car will not be used between the hours of 12:30 and 3:30 pm, although I note that my children are often awake by 3pm. We part ways, me feeling proud of the fact that I didn’t take the empty fudge tin they returned and shove it up—-well, you get the point.
The next day, I hear the car at about 10:00 am. Noisy? Yes. Annoying? Yes. Frightening to the kids? Yes. But he’s adhering to our agreement, so I don’t complain (out loud). At 12:30pm, the car is silent.
3:00 pm: Everyone in the house is sleeping. Including me (especially me).
(I ignore, as I’m too relaxed to race downstairs just to accept a package from the UPS guy. Let him leave it on the front porch).
3:02 pm: DING-DONG.
(Weird. The UPS guy never rings the doorbell twice. Just leave it on the porch already. And don’t wake up Dylan.)
3:03 pm: KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK.
(What the —-? Oh no, I’ll bet its a neighbor in trouble. Maybe someone locked themselves out? I mean, I’m pretty sure I have most of the keys of the houses on the street.)
I race downstairs, rubbing the obvious signs of sleep off my face, and pull open the door.
There’s FLK. He says in his FLK-way, “It’s 3:00, are your kids awake yet? I know you said they are normally awake by now.”
I wrangle my school-psychologist-self, smile tightly and say, “Oh, no, they’re not, but they might have woken up from the doorbell and knocking. Like I said yesterday, I think it would be a good idea to wait until 3:30 pm to use the car. Because even if my kids aren’t sleeping, I’ll bet other kids on the street are sleeping.”
He nods FLK-ishly and turns away.
Well, this same scenario plays out in this exact manner for the next three days. I finally put a sign on the door that says, “Please do not ring the doorbell or knock between the hours of 12:30-3:30 pm. My children are sleeping.”
Whew. Peace at last.
Fast-forward to last Thursday. Since he acquired the car several months ago, we’ve all gotten used to the horrible noise this car makes. When we hear it the kids typically comment on the noise and return to their activities. Thankfully, there are no more tears or gasps of fear. And he continues to remain respectful of the “no car during naptime” rule.
But on Thursday, instead of turning on his car at the end of his driveway and racing it down the street a couple of times then turning the corner and relieving us of its relentless noise, he decides to remain on our street. He races it back and forth in front of the house. The noise is piercing. It’s making me feel irritable and sweaty. Over and over. Over and over.
Did I mention that it’s 9:00 pm at night? I’m trying to put Sydney to bed, and she’s reading haltingly to me. I keep asking her to repeat herself as I cannot hear her over the noise. She’s getting fretful and I wonder if it’s because she thinks she’s reading a word incorrectly every time I ask her to repeat herself.
Like, I became one of those trashy moms in Walmart who do things like bust through the doors on Black Friday and trample an elderly Walmart greeter to death in their quest to be the first person to get the flat screen TV that’s 60% off.
I’m like one of those ladies on Jerry Springer who jumps on the woman who supposedly seduced her fat, alcoholic, unemployed husband and used her perfume while doing it.
I’m like one of those classy ladies from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, except I’m more literate and my breasts are real.
It was ugly. It shocked Sydney, who was left holding her Dr. Seuss book in her lap as I transformed into a woman ruled by searing hate and homicidal ideation.
In the middle of a sentence about green eggs and ham, I lurch to the window, rip the cord on the blinds until they slam against the top of the windowsill, and in a surprisingly competent maneuver, remove the child-safety board and wrench up the window.
I scream, “HEY!”
I see that he is making the car drive up the length of his legs, causing it to flip in midair and land back on it’s tires. He’s doing this repeatedly (maybe you’ve heard me mention how I hate repetitive noises?), causing the car to make a burst of noise that actually hurts my ears.
I scream louder, “HEY!”
A little boy standing in his front yard watching FLK hears me and looks up at me. FLK is single-mindedly directing his car and can’t hear me. I scream again. I can feel the heat of anger coursing through me.
The little boy points up to me in the second-story window. FLK turns around, slowly processes the anger in my face, and stumbles as he attempts to turn down the motor on the car so that he can hear me.
I scream, “IT IS NINE O’CLOCK! IT IS NEARLY DARK! EVERY HOUSE ON THIS STREET HAS AT LEAST ONE CHILD IN IT UNDER THE AGE OF FOUR! TURN OFF THE CAR NOW!” I may have injected the word, “damn”, but my recollection is fuzzy.
I’m pretty sure that last bit was said in shriek, and possibly while shaking my fist in the air.
I slam the window shut and draw the blinds. I feel shaky, as I’m fully aware that I’ve completely lost control of my emotions. I take a deep breath and turn around. Sydney is literally sitting with her mouth open, shocked to see her normally calm mother completely overwhelmed with hot rage.
She says, “Mom? You’re really mad, aren’t you?”
I answer, “Yes, I’m really mad. Let’s finish up with your book since it’s late”. With effort, I resume listening to Dr. Seuss and his infernal rhymes.
The car is blessedly quiet. I haven’t heard it since.
My friend/neighbor, Amy, totally heard FLK talking about me at the pool the other day. I’m a teeny bit curious as to how he perceived me. Did he think I was intimidating and bad-ass? Does he speak of me with awe and fear? Will I garner a reputation that results in kids daring each other to approach my door on Halloween?
Because that’s totally how I’m going to continue to imagine it.