Kids and Car Crashes

I was originally going to post today about road trips, being that the Labor Day weekend coming up is a huge traveling holiday.

And then I was involved in a car accident yesterday.

It was a five-car collision, with the force and trajectory of a pinball machine.  One car was hit by another, then went careening across three lanes of traffic, nearly missing the back of my car, only to hit the car behind me, which was catapulted forward, sideswiping my car and the one in the lane next to me as we were stopped at a red light.

Luckily, thankfully, everyone is okay.

Including my two children who were sitting in the backseat.

“Are you guys okay?” was the first thing that blurted from my mouth, before I could even assess, or process, what had just happened. My kids were all right. My kids were all right. My kids were all right.

It’s the first thing you check on when something like that happens, right? I mean, I could have cared less if I was paralyzed from the neck down. As long as my children were unscathed, everything would be fine.

In the chaos of arriving fire trucks, police cars and EMT’s, amidst the vocal barrage of the hysterical and belligerent driver that came pouring out of the skidding vehicle, all I wanted to do was make sure my children stayed safe and sound inside of my car.

My dented vehicle was drivable, in the mere sense that I could lurch it over to the nearest parking lot where the police corralled us all to get our accounts of the incident, but had to be towed away. I’ll be driving a rental until our insurance can appraise the damage and make repairs. And I can’t imagine what impact this will have on our premiums.

But really, does all of that matter?

All I can think about now is how grateful I am that I wasn’t a mere three feet further back in the lane.

Or that my eight year-old son, after much begging and pleading on his part and much internet searching for legality and safety on my part, just graduated to a big kid seat belt instead of his booster seat, and that I’m kicking myself now for allowing that to happen.

That thing my mom used to say to me as a teenager that I would roll my eyes at keeps coming up. The one that goes “it’s not YOU I worry about on the road, it’s all of the other idiots.”

I realize that car accidents happen all the time, that I am a safe driver, blah blah blah.

But the thoughts that ran through my head last night went something like this:

I’m thinking that perhaps I should purchase a military vehicle. A Hummer. Made out of solid titanium.  Equipped even bigger versions of those gigantic fenders you see on bumper cars so that we’d take up two whole lanes. Ideally, with a movement-activated force field set to shield us completely at the first sign of something moving in our direction.  That’s right. Shut. That. Thing. Down.

And then, I think before they even get buckled in to their seatbelts, I’ll envelope my children from head to toe in bubble wrap, layering them in even MORE bubble wrap once they’re finally strapped in.

I’ll maybe even make them wear a helmet.

And to make us super-duper über-safe, I should put ALL of us in five point harnesses. Yes, I expect some protest. But my husband will just have to get used to it.

Sure, this would take us an hour to leave the house, and probably just as long to get out of the car when we arrived at school, but we’d all be safe and sound, right?

In all seriousness, the only armor I could provide for my family yesterday was the invisible kind. The kind that didn’t show alarm or panic, the one that reassured my kids that everything would be okay, and they had nothing to fear. Not then, not now, not ever.

In the adrenaline and excitement of the afternoon, my kids went a little bonkers. I’m sure they will tell just about everyone at school today that they were in a car crash.  It was all they could talk about last night, and I’m sure it’s all they will be able to talk about today. But I really, really, really hope they never have another story like this to tell, ever.

In the meantime, I’m going to Google the heck out of that force-field thing.