10 July 2009

License to Thrill

Here's one from the story archives, one that I've been meaning to post for quite some time now. It is about Judah, our minivan, and the mind of a three year-old.

I mentioned that Tim and Beth's family is growing; they just added Isaiah Reed to their household a month ago. He's very cute, as are all babies belonging to people you like a lot, and shortly after they returned from the hospital with their little bundle, the kids and I went over too see and hold him. It was so soon after their return from the hospital that they didn't even have their other kids back from Grandma's house yet. This turned out to be a very good thing.

Tim and Beth have a whole lot of acres, and more importantly to this story, their house is set about a quarter mile off the road, making it a really secure place for the kids to run around unattended. The kids aren't allowed into the woods by themselves, but if we can see them from the house--whose windows offer sweeping vistas of the yard--we let them play out there on their own. It's so secure that not only don't I lock my van, I leave the keys right in it, sitting on the drivers' seat or the dash. This was the case on this particular day. Since Gideon and Elise weren't there, it was just Charis and Judah running around outside, playing in the sand, playing on the swingset, being safe and obedient (or so I thought).

I was inside cuddling Mr Isaiah, thinking to myself I could do this again, when Charis barged into the house.

"Mom! Hurry! The van is rolling!!!!"

"What?!?!?" I asked, incredulous. Stupid van, I thought. Just one more thing for Abe to fix. Now the gear shift doesn't even work right. Still, though I wasn't concerned too much about where the van was headed, it being parked in front of a hill, I thought I'd better hustle out and look into it.

When I got outside, there was Judah, walking towards me, sobbing, and speaking words I couldn't quite make out. Of course he'd be afraid--who wouldn't be afraid if they were standing next to a van that started moving of its own volition? I saw Transformers, and even Shia Leboeuf was scared of self-moving vehicles.

As I got closer, I could tell Judah was sobbing, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

"What do you mean, buddy?" I asked.

"I'm sorry I moved the van!"

Let me tell you, it's a good thing I already knew everyone was safe. I had no idea that the van wasn't actually moving of its own accord...it was actually Judah, who had somehow selected the right key, put it in the ignition, and had turned the key just enough so that he could slip the van into neutral, thereby letting it roll until it stopped on its way up the hill. Judah's first driving experience had terrified him, hopefully sufficiently to keep him from making the same mistake, at least until he's old enough to see over the dash. Apparently, when the van started rolling, Judah got really, really scared, and JUMPED OUT OF THE VAN.

As a million possibilities raced through my head--What if he had gotten trapped under the wheels? What if Charis or Gideon or Elise had been standing nearby? What if this had happened in our driveway?--I started to have myself a tiny little panic attack. It was short-lived, of course, because none of those What Ifs was the case, and everyone was in one piece. But still. My little guy somehow figured out how to move a ton of steel, and lived to tell about it.

As you might expect, a couple of things changed after this event:
1) The children are no longer allowed to play in the van, or any vehicle that had wheels and/or an engine.
2) I take my keys with me now. You just never know

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