Saturday, March 28, 2009

Three wheels down, one wheel up

Last night I had a chance to practice my powers of calm and clear thinking when I had a small but humiliating accident in the car while at my darling daughter's school. Last weekend Coffs Harbour celebrated Harmony Day, which promotes peace and understanding between the many different cultures represented in the local community. E's school decided to bring together its own Autumn Festival with Harmony Day celebrations yesterday after school and so parents and students enjoyed the harmonies of the children's and adults' choirs, African drumming (hmmm...) and excellent didgeridoo playing among other delights in between very heavy rain showers.

M and I left early to meet some friends and I went back to the school to pick E up at 5:30pm, after a lot of rain. Well that's my excuse, anyway, for the fact that as we left the muddy field that serves as the school's over-flow car park, I reversed to let someone else out and... the back wheels of the car slid off the 'path' and into a small ditch, leaving us stranded with one front wheel in the air and absolutely no possibility of getting ourselves out of the situation without considerable assistance. What to do...? The only option (well, apart from screaming in frustration at my own stupidity or bursting into tears I guess) was to go back into the celebrations, round up some assistance and hope that better minds than mine would be able to work out what to do next, so thanking myself profusely for having put waterproof shoes and my rain jacket in the car I left E where she was and went in to beg for help. I'm ashamed to say, though, that I lost it with my husband. He's the one person in the world with whom I feel comfortable admitting that I don't know what to do and that I'm a step away from sheer panic, so what did I do? I shouted at him! Luckily he's a very forgiving man (although he did put petrol on the fire by telling me to calm down).

I have to say that I love the Steiner School. While I have no doubt that other schools would be possessed of parents who would willingly have helped me, the Steiner School has a particularly generous and creative group. Unbeknownst to me, while I was asking for assistance among the parents - and getting many offers of help from people whose names I don't know - someone I did know, Wendy, had spotted E in the back of our car, stopped, and asked E if she'd like to play with her children in their car while she got out in the pouring rain to see what she could do to help. And the father of one of E's classmates had, by the time I got back, already stopped, got out a webbed strap, established that he couldn't get the thick end of the strap through the tow-loop under the car and was thinking up other solutions to the problem. In the end, after three goes, we managed to pull my car out because another helpful father stopped by and proferred a D-ring shackle that successfully united the webbing strap with the tow-loop, et voila! All of us were absolutely soaked by the time we'd finished and I am SOOOO grateful. What a lovely group of people!

By the time I got back to where my husband was waiting I was cold, wet, tired and very annoyed with myself. The annoyance has diminished into resigned humour and a determination to ensure that we carry a tow rope, webbing straps and a couple of D-ring shackles in the boot for future creative uses. I have managed not to sink into a pit of despair about my inadequacies as a parent and a driver, but still, it is a little embarrassing... and I feel especially embarrassed by the fact that the rear bumper does now have a dent (and my husband cleared out a fair amount of field from the exhaust pipe!).

In terms of my search for happiness this has been an illustrative process for me. I would have done a lot better if I'd managed to keep myself a little calmer after it had just happened. Wendy saved the day for my daughter by successfully distracting her with other children which meant that she didn't feel too traumatised by it all. I did what I needed to do, but ended up beating myself up about it a little bit, and while it's good that I managed to restrict it to only a little bit, I recognise that a bit more calm and a sense of humour in the initial stages would have carried me a long way. I will store that knowledge up for next time, while simultaneously praying that there isn't a next time!

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I have always heard that you better be careful what you wish for; you might just get it. Having a whole day devoted to "harmony" is just tempting the fates. ; )

    You did well with all that. I don't know that I could have held up any better. And after hearing your dear "M" tell you to "calm down", well, I think my reaction would have been quite similar to yours. He sounds like a good man. I'm glad he is understanding.


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