It was the first really hot day in a long time… approaching 80 degrees in the bright sun. The work day was going quite well. All my tasks getting checked off my do-list… and then the call came in. I was on a conference call so Peter answered. The dreaded flat tire.
As a Father you hope and pray that you’ve prepared your children for the hard knocks of life… like flat tires and muggings. <sigh> Turns out my two eldest daughters are stranded on the side of I-485 with a flat tire. Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum can’t find the spare tire! Oy!
There goes the opportunity to finish work early… Time to go through the options in my head.
· Call a tow truck. You’re such a loser. Are you made of money?
· Send my wife and son. Now you’re a pathetic loser. Send someone else??
· I can go. <sigh>
I remembered the last time I had a flat tire. Same kind of weather. No money – and no one to call. Man that was a hot day… Well, the good L-rd brings things like this into my life to be a loser – or prove I’m learning. You’ve got to hope and pray my age that I’ve learned something. I read once that when my kids do something – right or wrong – it’s an opportunity for me to turn it into a teachable moment, or a moment of torture. I’ve got the torture thing down cold… <sigh>
Sweetie, don’t get your purse. My work is almost finished. Peter and I will go. “Really?” she asked. “That would be so wonderful!” That earned me three master-class husband points. We’re doin’ OK so far.
“We need to put a little care package together for the girls. It’s hot out there – and they’ve been stranded. Maybe some nuts or something and some cold water.” She was shocked… and surprised, but she helped me quickly get a little bundle together. Peter got a little cooler and it was time to MOTOR. You don’t drive a MINI… you MOTOR. I grabbed my MINI MOTORING hat and into the Cooper we went.
When you’re in a MINI Cooper, it just doesn’t take any time to get anywhere. We were barely through the first few songs of the Holiday Spirit album from Straight No Chaser when we saw the little yellow bug on the side of the road. We got a great reception from the girls, but they were really surprised when Peter gave them the soft cooler… Bing. Two master-class Dad of the Year points.
Now what’s the most frustrating thing that can happen when changing a tire? Besides not having a spare; getting run over by a milk truck or getting hit in the mouth by the lug wrench… I’ll tell you what’s the most frustrating thing that can happen when changing a tire. Yep. You work your butt off in the hot sun jacking that bad boy up; take the flat off; put the spare on and work that jack again… only to find that the spare is flat. <heavy sigh> Maybe if I yell and scream and throw the lug wrench into the woods I’ll fell better… Nah, I did that when I had the flat tire 30 years ago. Took a ½ hour to find the stupid wrench. Besides… I’ve got three of the neatest people in the world watching me. No pressure.
Let me get this thing jacked back up so we can get that spare off and into my brand new, untarnished, very clean MINI… <grrrrr> so we can fill it with air at the gas station.
Now I’m walking the straight and narrow pretty well so far. No cussin’ and I haven’t even busted my knuckles on a wrench or the pavement yet either. Truth be told Peter’s been doing the heavy lifting anyway… And wouldn’t you know it. The girls were almost to the highway exit, so after we get the air, we’ve got to drive 5 miles away from them and then 5 miles back. I’m gettin’ old.
Well, I had forgotten that we were in a MINI. <grin> There and back… the girls barely had time to miss us. It did make my heart swell a bit when we passed them on the other side of the highway… I honked my cute (but masculine) MINI horn a few times, but evidently so many guys had been honking that they really couldn’t distinguish between passer’s by and Dad passin’ by. But they looked so perfect. Sitting in the grass like perfect ladies. You know, that side sitting, gorgeous look. Big smiles, laughing and talking with one another, sipping on the cool water. They looked great. I was proud.
I had concluded on the lightning fast trip to save them that I could have had them change the tire – and call me if they needed help or had questions. But that would remove one more thing I could teach them – and my great Son… They DID have someone to call. They DID have a protector – a provider… and I didn’t need to ask who it was. It’s me. I hope Peter understood that – so when he’s a husband, he won’t hesitate. I’m sure the girls understood.
Turns out I wasn’t “Dad the Failure” after all… Of course, time may prove that out differently… but right now, for the rest of the afternoon at least, I’m “Dad of the Year”. Hey! Wanna change a tire with me? <grin>