by Karen Llewellyn

If you are a mother driving with kids in the car, you’re under arrest.   News stories report laws that make it illegal to drive while distracted, which I think covers a suffocatingly wide swath of activities. Although the stories have to do with cell phones and I never. . . hardly ever. . . usually don't talk on the cell phone while driving, there are a plethora of other things going on in my vehicle while we’re  weaving our way that might qualify me as a distracted driver.

Surely they can't mean it's illegal to drive while shouting at your four-year-old to STOP THAT YELLING BACK THERE! Or DON'T PUT THAT CHEERIO UP YOUR NOSE BECAUSE IT'S NOT FUNNY!

I think every mother of any children under the age of. . . uh, over the age of. . . uh. . . well, anyone with children in the car is driving illegally, because it is extremely rare for a driver not to interact with children.

With little ones in the car you may find yourself teaching via the tour director method:

“Look, Jamie! There’s a fire truck! Do you see the big, red truck?”

“Look, honey, see the funny dog on the corner? What does a dog say?”

Look, Mommy--see the car stop in front of you suddenly while you’re pointing out fire trucks and dogs? You are definitely a distracted driver.

If you have multiple children in the car, you probably spend more of your time on riot control.  Rules help, but only if the kids pay attention to them.

My car rules:
1) No touching anyone, any time, for any reason.
2) No whining.
3) No touching anyone, I said, at any time or for any reason.
4) No eating anything Mommy did not give you to eat.  No smuggling in gummy      bears (Look how they stick to the window, Mommy!).
5) No touching anyone, any time and that means now, mister, for any

But does anyone obey the rules? Dream on, Mommy.

Which leads us to older kids.  If you have teens in the car, your biggest distraction may be the effort you go through to get their attention away from their CDs or video games as you pull into the school/mall/sport field parking lot.  They will generally be happier if you let them pretend they are arriving by magic, without the nuisance of a driver.  Let it go.  At least you don’t have to worry about them pooping in
their car seats just as you park at your destination.

In the end, I guess it comes down to keeping your hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and dealing with your beloved offspring (and your cellphone) in the parking lot.  Don’t search your purse for that cellphone if it’s ringing, play your CDs, change the radio station, adjust the visor, brush your hair, reach for your sport bottle, or scratch where it itches.  You might be considered a distracted driver.  And that, I understand, is illegal.

I am a recovering journalist and a beginning fiction writer who sometimes launches into reverie about daily challenges.  For 30 years I wrote news, ads, PR materials and other detritus of the corporate world.  All this ended with the birth of my daughter who is the most complicated production I've ever dealt with.  Being a menopausal mom of a toddler was the ultimate challenge in self-control and creativity.
Contact Karen.