Road Rules: College Pick-Up Edition

As I made my roundtrip to Salisbury University to pick up my college freshman for winter break last week, I had plenty of time to ponder life. I mean, spending the equivalent of an average workday in the car makes you realize a thing or two.

The following are my revelations in no particular order:

The car should have a wiper setting called, “It is drizzling just enough to be annoying but not enough to leave the blades on intermittent.” Manually turning them on and off every five minutes is not an effective use of my time.

Christmas songs should have a limit to the number of times they can be rerecorded. You know, sort of like a white elephant gift exchange where items can only be stolen twice before they are retired for good. Take the Wham! song, “Last Christmas” as an example. Everyone from Taylor Swift to the cast of “Glee” and a kid on “America’s Got Talent” has covered this one (there is even a random version we use in Zumba), so now we need to retire it for good. Speaking of the radio, if you let your mind drift, eventually you come back around to the sounds of “Rubber Band Man” by the Spinners and realize that you can’t in good conscience complain about the validity of today’s music.

Some drivers approach a lane change or merge with the same decision-making process usually reserved for major purchases like a car or appliance. Just pull the trigger already. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable during the holidays when out-of-state folks flood the highways and mess it up for us regulars.

Oh and one last music note (I promise). There is a good chance that Bananarama were also fake-lip-syncing-models turned pop-sensations just like Milli Vanilli, but Milli Vanilli took the fall for everyone.

Parents could learn a lot from the GPS. No matter how many times I go off course, change my mind or generally veer from the recommended route, the GPS voice remains modulated and cool. At no point does she shriek, “Why don’t you listen to me? You never listen. You ask my opinion and then you do the exact opposite like I don’t have more experience and wisdom than you do. I don’t know why I even bother.” She simply recommends I make a U-turn when it is safe and recalculate. Wise woman.

No matter how old or innocent you are, the sight of a police car within 100 feet makes your heart race. If the police car is behind you, your heart actually stops beating. If it switches lanes or pulls out in order to fall behind you, you turn down the radio and the sound of your shallow breathing echoes in the silence. Then like a sweaty, caged animal, you drive five miles under the speed limit until you can get in the next lane and see if it follows you. During those long seconds of purgatory, you mentally practice your speech should you get pulled over and wonder why the police aren’t somewhere else chasing actual, dangerous criminals.

Hand dryers in public bathrooms never completely dry your hands. I am all for saving paper, but if I am just going to end up wiping my hands on my jacket or pants to finish the job, just skip the dryer altogether and let me wing it. The contraption sounds like a jet engine in that confined space but the air itself is tepid and has about enough power to extinguish some birthday candles. Besides, if you don’t have towels, how can you open the door without touching anything?

There is nothing more deflating than the realization that the habit you find most annoying in your child is inherited squarely from you. Such was the case when I saw my son’s definition of “clean” in his dorm room; I should have just apologized to him right then. I am not neat or fastidious in any area of my life, so I had to bite my tongue and just help sweep the old fast food cups, wrappers and clutter into the trash on the way out. Conversely, it is very gratifying when you discover you and your child have a shared passion. In this case, it is our love of all things Wawa and the magic of the touchscreen and its endless delectable options.

And finally, the most important discovery was only evident hours after I had safely navigated us back home. I see now that I am happiest when my boys are together. As a family we are better than the sum of our parts. Sure, we exist just fine separately, and that separation is necessary and good. Yet, all of our lights shine most brightly when reflected in the love that family brings.

Here’s to a holiday season full of light, laughter, lessons learned and love in abundance.

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