Saturday, March 24, 2007


In December we got a new-to-us red minivan. I love this car despite it being a major mom-mobile. I came out of Target the other day and walked to three other red Windstar's before I found mine. I used to always laugh at people who put stupid things on their car antennae but now I see maybe it's not such a bad idea.

I'd had the car for about two weeks when my daughter (previously known as Little Arabella but who henceforth will be known as Teen Arabella) ran into some trouble at school. Each year, the school, for free, issues them a school planner, which not only has the school calendar, but also has space for them to write down and keep track of their assignments. They are also to use their planner for their hall pass.

I guess the administration got sick of kids walking down the hall empty handed when they pass out these planners every year for free. So one week, they do a crack down on hall passes. My daughter gets sent to the bathroom without one. She claimed that bathroom was out of TP so she went to a bathroom on the first floor and got busted without a hall pass. Turns out she had left her planner at home and the teacher didn't write her a pass. *sigh*

The verdict was guilty and the sentence was one detention. I'm like, whatever, just go and get it over with. I spent way more time in detention than she ever has in school and I just can't get worked up over it. I got some of my better homework and casual reading done there and I figure she can do the same. Detention is a waste of time. Work detail for kids works much better because it's actually a deterrent versus getting to sit on your ass and do nothing for 30 minutes to an hour. Isn't that the nearly the definition of teenager?

Anyway, the next day there was some hair emergency and she was running late for school. She begs me for a ride. Mind you I'd already given her the "I'm-not-driving-you-to-school-anymore" speech because of days just like this one. But she was in such a panic, I finally just gave in and put on a coat over my pjs.

While I'm in the car, I feel the part of my brain that is all mom all the time kick into gear. I already know the answer, but I have to ask because I'm her mother.

"Do you have your planner?"

She goes through some requisite digging and a bit of grumbling about how I don't ever trust her but she finally has to admit, "I left it on my bed."

I pull into a driveway to turn around. She immediately turns into the whiny, screaming teenager from hell. "You don't have to turn around. I don't really need my planner (she's supposed to write her assignments in it daily). I can just get a teacher to write a pass if I need one (yeah, that worked out so well last time). I can't believe you're turning around. It's not even necessary. Gosh, you are so uptight about this and it's not even all that deep. I only asked you to drive me to school so I wouldn't be late and if we go back I'm going to be late anyway. Thanks a lot, Mom. I can't believe you're turning around..."

On and on she whines in an increasingly high pitched voice until she's nearly screeching. Mind you I'm already pissed that she's actually "going there" and talking to me in "that tone" but I'm trying to back out the driveway I pulled into and since it's only been two weeks, I don't have the knack yet of mini-van reverse.

They tell you to watch your blind-spots and for kids outside the car but they don't tell you to watch out for the ones inside the car. Before I could finish the sentence, "Be quiet, I'm backing up the car," I heard a terribly nasty crunching noise and through my side-view mirror I watched as pieces fell from my car. I'd backed into a telephone pole.

I burst into horrified sobs. I wheeled on her and screamed, "Shut up! Just SHUT - UP!" but she'd already fallen silent. I got out of the car and surveyed the damage. A gaping hole was now on the driver's side rear of the car where it had once been perfect. The bumper was dented. I looked up at the telephone pole, but it was stable and wasn't about to fall over thank goodness. There's no way the pole could have fallen without taking out a house in any direction.

I got back into the car still sobbing, howling.

"This is all your fault. Don't speak to me, don't talk to me, don't breathe in my direction. Just shut up!" I screamed even though she hadn't said a word.

I drove back to the house and went inside. She carefully avoided getting to close to me and went to her room and closed the door. I threw myself on the couch and sobbed until I just couldn't anymore. My feelings were all tied up in money and insurance and getting the car fixed and could we afford our high deductable (no) and just how much damage was done and what, oh what would Ye Old Matey say.

I finally calmed down enough to go survey the damage again. It looked ever so much worse than it was. I'd merely taken out the tail light. But that tail light is HUGE. it takes up so much of the car that it came away in chunks and made it look as if the body of the car had been severely damaged, however there was no actual damage to the car itself. Only the light and a small dent in the bumper.

I felt such a huge surge of relief I could actually feel my heart speed up again and I let out a long breath. I went in and drove Teen Arabella to school and even signed her in with the excuse that we'd had a small accident on the way in. Excused tardy, no problem. We still weren't speaking though.

I finally got the car fixed two days ago. Local repair shop, 5 minutes and $109.00 later (yeah, it's robbery but what can you do?) I have the tail light fixed. However every day that I drove that car I worried that we would get pulled over, despite our really good patch job with some 3M tail light tape. I hated even having Ye Old Matey drive the car just to the store. CPD doesn't need a reason to pull black folks over and the idea of him getting pulled over because of the tail light gave me many an anxious day.

A sheriff pulled behind me yesterday and it was all of fifteen seconds before I remembered that the tail light was fixed and there was nothing to worry about. It just bothers me that I should have the stomach twisting fear of law officers that I do. Unlike what they tell you in kindergarten, the policeman has never been my friend. I fear the police like I would a ravenous wolf or shark headed my way. I can't but help think of Yoda's words on fear:

Fear leads to Anger,
Anger leads to Hate,
Hate . . . leads to Suffering

Take it any way you wish, but this is my interpretation: fear of the police leads to anger at the police. Continued anger with the police leads to hating the police. And hating the police ( in essence, hatred of a fellow human being) makes for a bad experience any time I come in contact with them. They do not suffer, but I do, horribly. and I have a feeling they like it that way. That they intentionally instill fear so that people don't rise up against their tyranny. However generally the opposite happens because you can only push people so far before they push back.

I've forgiven my daughter. As of today, when we finish cleaning out the car and finally throw away the plastic shards of tail light that I tossed into the back seat after the accident, I am finally willing to let this go.

I wish I could throw away my fear and hatred of the police as easily. Maybe one day I'll find it it in my heart to forgive them for the wrong they've done to me, mine and black people specifically and to our community in general.

It's just going to take a while.

Maybe never.


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog today! Thought I'd return the favor.

    There is no fear like that irrational fear of a cop behind you, be you black, white, pink, purple...I have an irrational fear...every time there's a cop behind me, I'm checking my speed, wondering if the brake lights are functional, am I weaving? Did I roll thru that stop? OH GEEZ! Why? Oh, and let's make it worse...I live about a block from the police station...I see it from my window. Do NOT like it at all...

    I think, also, that my rear end (of my car, that is) has been quite attractive...I've had 3 rear end collisions in 20 years...two of which caused a lot of damage to me AND my car.

    Oh...and I don't have that "lost minivan" one but me drives a Kia Sedona around here, lol...everyone's afraid of the KIA name, but I'll tell you what, you sure do get your money's worth in these vans!!!

    Going to read a bit more, now!

  2. Thanks so much for posting! I hope you like what you read! : )


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