Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bad Car-ma or Car-tastrophe

Last Thursday was Cinqo de Mayo - Amari's half-birthday for many years to come. She's eighteen months old now, and slowly but surely she's morphing from baby-faced toddler into a little girl. More than that, her personality is revealing herself to be an independent, determined, assertive, and loving individual. She tries new things every day and when something challenges or excites her she will repeat it to the point of mastery. When, on the other hand, something frustrates or confounds her, she becomes very dramatic, tears emerging as though they live just beneath the surface of her cheeks as she throws herself to the ground. This can also be seen at the slightest mention of the dreaded D-Word: diaper. 

When I'm the object of her frustration, Amari slaps my hand away and makes an ambiguous noise of disapproval. I quickly give her my best serious face and say, "Are you hitting Dada?" and she almost always responds by leaning in for a kiss or putting her head on my shoulder and patting my chest. I'm an absolute sucker for both.

The day after De Mayo, Amari and I had car trouble in the Safeway parking lot. We came out from an early morning shopping trip and my key wouldn't turn in the ignition. The steering was locked, and in the past a quick jiggle and turn of the key and the car would start right up. I jiggled and turned but nothing happened. I tried again. I started to get annoyed. I'd left my cell phone at home, which added ammunition to my catastrophic thinking. I proceeded to teach Amari a few new swear words, but I'm pretty sure I said them fast enough that she probably thinks "Motherfuckingcocksuckingbitchfucker" is one word. A word that should be said in conjunction with banging the steering wheel, accidentally honking the horn, and scaring the old couple walking by.

Once I regained my composure, realizing we had plenty of food and water for Amari, I decided to model some better problem-solving skills, and headed inside the supermarket to use their phone. Over the course of the next hour I learned several things:

1. Ignitions die. Apparently they will only turn a certain number of times before they say, "I'm done. That was the last time you'll ever turn me on." That's what she said. Never mind. I learned later that they're also expensive.

2. As long as Amari is eating, drinking water, and listening to music, we could be stranded out at sea and she wouldn't give a damn unless I happened to say the D-Word again.

3. Employees on the phone lines of AAA are not highly trained mechanics. I should have already presumed this, but there's no substitute for hands-on experience. Trying to maintain an optimistic attitude, when I finally got through to an operator, I explained my current situation, adding, "I was hoping that you guys at AAA might have some secret tips to unlocking steering wheels." This was before I knew it was the ignition. The kind (and naive) lady on the phone replied enthusiastically, "Oh, you bet we do. Have you tried jiggling the steering wheel while you turn the key?" Really? That was the secret she was so excited to share? Fortunately, she also a tow truck.

4. Small towns, good friends, and family are invaluable. The extra-helpful tow truck driver was the parent of a former client of mine in the schools, my buddy Jim was there to meet as at the mechanics, my good old Granny C loaned us her car for whatever we needed to do. Two days, and $440 later, our car-tastrophe was finally over.

In the meantime, Amari polished off a bag of goldfish while I used a packet of her wipes to clean up the inside of the car. Not exactly lemonade, but certainly better than the thesaurus of profanities it began as.

I've also been teaching Amari faces the past few weeks. Here are a couple she's mastered and will do on demand.

 Surprise Face

 Cute Face

Just plain adorable...

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