Somehow role's reversed with shifting priorities

Elise T. Chisolm

August 10, 1993|By Elise T. Chisolm

What's with these kids of mine? I taught them everything they know. I taught them how to walk, how to eat, how to read, ride a bike, swim and -- the hardest lesson of all -- how to drive a car, which took infinite patience and courage.

In vacant parking lots I would put my life in their hands and embrace the --board while my toes were curling. And would you believe that these whiz kids, these audacious baby boomers, now grown, won't let me drive their cars? They say it is because their cars are foreign: "Mom, you've never driven a foreign car," blah, blah, blah.

All my clothes are foreign-made, as are most of my home appliances; I wear them, I use them, and we get along just fine.

The hidden agenda is, their cars all have stick shifts and mine has an automatic shift, so they don't trust me. I have used automatic transmission for the past 30 years because my husband is an automatic transmission freak.

We're going on a family vacation, and this year they have decided I should ride with them in their stupid stick shift cars. They pay allegiance to the stupid theory that stick shifts take less gas. Well, not the way they zoom around, laying rubber and gunning their engines.

I have explained to them that I learned to drive with the stick shift, growing up with it in the 1930s and '40s. First, second, third, fourth, neutral and reverse, kind of an H-shape, right? But some malicious auto-maker who didn't like his mother put a fifth gear in that stick shift design, and I will have to find that.

So I have decided to relearn how to use the old stick shift and show 'em that Mom is no dummy, that old horses can learn shifty new tricks.

I'm hearing, "Mom, you don't need a car. We will take you anywhere you want to go."

But how can I tell them, without hurting their feelings and revealing my bizarre side, that I might want to get a massage or go to the mall because I'm tired to death of the potato chips and sand on the kitchen floor,and their music makes my scalp itch?

I am fooling them. I am getting a kid in the neighborhood to show me the stick shift. I should learn it anyway. I mean, maybe there won't even be automatic shifts one day. The neighbor is 15 and just learning how to drive. She passed her driver's ed, so I am giving her 10 bucks an hour to meet me at a school parking lot in the early morning and practice with her stick-shifty car.

Whatever, it's going to be a long vacation if my kids don't let me have their wheels. They will be in for a big surprise when granny takes off with their cars on a rainy day. I mean, don't they remember when they used to beg for my car on Saturday nights, and I said, "Yes, if you are home by 10"? They never were.

Of course, I am used to my big Buick, which is large enough to carry a rock band and the sound equipment, but I will learn to love their puny little Hondas.

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