Last Friday I set off to pick O up from school. This is my little treat as it’s a bit of a drive and at the end of it I get a fabulous smile and an enormous hug (so long as there are no friends about then it’s just a little hug) from my eldest boy. I also get 1 hour 40 mins of alone time. Time when it’s just me, the open road and a stereo to have the music turned up loud.
I look forward to my ‘shout singing’ sessions as I plug my phone into the car’s Apple Car Play system and ask Siri to play certain music. Siri doesn’t always oblige and I find myself shouting before even the shout singing starts and there could even be a little swearing involved too.
Eventually, this time, Siri managed to recognise Simon and Garfunkel and I set off on my merry way singing along to ‘The Boxer’, ‘America’, ‘Scarborough Fair’ and others. ‘Feeling Groovy’ came on and I have to say that’s a song that makes me smile. Have you ever tried saying ‘feeling groovy’ in a room full of people? I bet you couldn’t do it without a smile on your face: groovy is such a fab word.
I arrived at school, O arrived and we hugged (I got a big one) and we made our way up to his room for me to help him pack. He had packed but O has form for arriving home for a week sans shoes, pants, trousers and really anything you might need for a week when you need to be fully clothed.
We got in the car, he was now in charge of the music so we sang our hearts out to Ed Sheeran.
Now O goes to school in Somerset and the roads can be very windy windy and you can also get stuck behind a bus, or a tractor or a lorry for ages and this very thing happened to us. A lorry was driving very slowly and I mean v-e-r-y slowly, roughly about 40mph on a 60pmh road. The traffic was queuing behind us and everyone was getting a bit tetchy. I know this as cars veered out from behind me trying to see if they could get past which they couldn’t as there were blind bends that made it too dangerous.
Up ahead a duel carriageway stretch of road could be seen and I could almost hear the ‘oh thank God!!’ as people also saw it.
I approached it, put my foot down and sped past the lorry and then the road became a single carriageway once again.
Now the one thing I didn’t mention in all this is that the car I was driving is a fast car -an extremely fast car- and this seemed to have annoyed the silver car behind me as when I looked in my rear view mirror the silver car was so close to the back of my car that I couldn’t see the numberplate.
Obviously the car was trying to get past me and was now driving very dangerously close to try to do that.
I mentioned this to O and he saw it too.
‘Why don’t you just go faster? You can…’ he said.
I said that I don’t want to and that on the next stretch of duel carriageway he would speed off and overtake me.
‘Well why don’t you just put your foot down?’ he asked.
I then explained that I was going fast enough and that I didn’t want to drive faster as I had O in the car (and me!) and we are too precious to to put at risk. I said I didn’t need to prove that this car could beat him (it was a man driving, we could definitely see that) as I knew it could.
Sure enough that stretch of duel carriageway came and the silver car shot off past me and he must have been driving at about 70/80 down that country road. He kept this speed up for quite some time even when the road became a single carriageway again.
‘Why didn’t you beat him?’ O asked.
And that’s when I got to explain to my eldest, soon to be a teenager, that just because someone challenges you it doesn’t mean that you have to rise to their bait. You can walk away and you can make a different choice. I didn’t want to race so I let the silver car go.
I said that in life these sorts of situations come up so often. Someone asks if you want a cigarette, someone dares you to do something you don’t want to and you can say no. If a friend is a friend worth having they will accept your decision.
He seemed quite interested in this as we’ve talked before about the fact that I have never smoked – not even a cigarette – and I’ve never taken drugs, it’s just not something I ever wanted to do. When offered I always said no.
I’m not a geek, I drank way too much alcohol in my teenaged years and then had some more in my twenties so I am no angel but I do know it is possible to say no and that’s something he needs to hear.
I love the conversations O and I have whilst driving back home. Hubbie tends to drop him off and I pick up so I always get the drive home.
Ed Sheeran ‘Castle on the hill’ was playing and the lyrics suddenly seemed so pertinent for us. We were driving, no where near 90, down country lanes and I could really see we’d had a ‘moment.’ I could see myself in the lyrics; playing with my brothers, driving down country lanes (I lived in a village) and growing up.
O is just about to start his teenaged journey – in 6 weeks exactly. His friends will become more important and he’ll do things and try things that he might perhaps shouldn’t and I won’t always be there to make the best decision for him.
I hope he’ll have fun in the next few years, I hope the fun doesn’t take over sense but there are times in your children’s lives where you have to slowly let them go, just a little at a time, to become who they were born to be.
Fast cars may come and go just as men in silver cars do but I hope his level headedness stays and he remember the time his mother didn’t put her foot down for the sale of a challenge from a silver car…