So, the last few weeks, I’ve been travelling up and down the country, visiting various places in our car with my family and these journeys have made me realise something; driving reveals who we really are.
Forget therapy, mindfulness or trekking the Himalayans to find yourself…get behind the wheel of a car, preferably with small children and a backseat driver and hey presto… your true character will make an appearance between the sports car that undertakes, cutting you up and the realisation that the sat nav has been trying to take you home for an hour, when you thought you were well on your way to see Grandma.
‘I feel sick!’ followed promptly by the sound of vomit hitting a magazine, leading to tears and almost a Mexican wave of vomit as one by one, our girls followed suit.
At the start of the journey, I am pretty upbeat; we choose good music to sing along to, knowing it’s going to be a good day.
Then something happens and in an instant, I’m annoyed...cars pull out suddenly with no indicator, expecting you to brake and be ok with that…a lorry driver passes, texting while driving a 20 tonne lorry…and those special people who swing across the lanes like baboons, causing others to swerve, brake or gesture, all the while smiling smugly as they nip off at the next junction, leaving a host of angry drivers in their wake.
Then, the stress goes up a notch as a tremulous voice in the back says they feel sick. I get panicky at this point, having had a particularly bad experience in the past.
We had visited friends in Kent and enjoyed a lovely roast dinner, with strawberries for pudding and, rather unwisely, headed off straight away. The children had been given magazines to read (another crazy idea). It was just as we got to the entrance of the Dartford Tunnel that a little voice said “I feel sick!” followed promptly by the sound of vomit hitting a magazine, leading to tears and almost a Mexican wave of vomit as one by one, our girls followed suit.
Nowadays, I say quickly “Keep breathing!” as my husband raises his eyebrows and asks “What else are they going to do?”
“I mean, deep breathing, in through your nose, out through your mouth...open a window…has anyone got a bag?!”
Traffic jams are the best assessment of general moods. You spot the brake lights up ahead and for the first few minutes, trundle along, stop/start… and then everything stops. Engines are switched off, people get out to stretch and the realisation that we are stuck gradually dawns. I witter away, irritated, not wanting to play another game of I-Spy, just wanting to be moving again.
Finally, engines are started and we are on the move… only to slow down again, because of rubber necking and I’m off, incredulous that we want to slow down to look when we could all be moving on.
Having arrived, somebody usually asks how the journey was and we smile, saying “Not too bad”, and the stress dissipates as we enjoy spending time with each other… until the journey home, when it all comes flooding back.
I keep thinking I’ll get better at it the more I do it – but I still have a long way to go ...