The day began as a special treat for us. It isn't often enough that I get to spend an entire afternoon, alone, with just one of my four Angel Daughters. But Angel Daughter Number Three and I decided that Thursday would be our day. We decided to head down south to Carlsbad to do some outlet shopping at a beautiful outdoor mall near the Flower Fields. We were on our way back home, chatting about what we purchased, and boys(not you, Jacob;)) and what we would do for dinner when, mid-sentence, my insides began to sink. The noise from outside was indistinct at first. Kind of like when your tires get stuck in those grooves that they make on some roads or freeways, and then you bump along for a mile or so. But suddenly the hair on the back of my neck began to stand up. And my mind momentarily emptied out. And my breath got caught up inside of my lungs. A second of confusion before a moment of frightening clarity. And then time sped up.
Tire bursts. Check speedometer-70 mph in moderate traffic. AD3 checks passenger side-view mirror. Watches the rubber from the tire shred into large chunks which take flight and then bounce back down onto the freeway behind us. I check my rear-view mirror as the vehicle begins to wildly take on a mind of its own while I clutch the steering wheel with all of my strength. The metallic taste of fear rises into my mouth, but I swallow it back down. We are in the center lane. Check the rear-view mirror. Three cars to the right without a safe opening between them. Left lane, one vehicle in the fast lane about two car lengths behind us. I choose left. I lean on the horn so that if someone does not see me coming, they might at least hear me. Car begins to sputter and fishtail all at the same time. I say a silent prayer in hopes of making it into the left lane and then on to the very minimal shoulder that resides on the other side of the speeding cars. Why is the steering wheel locking up on me? I somehow manage to get the car over to the shoulder without getting us killed. And then, oh crap, the breaks stop working. I am thinking out loud. I tell AD3 that I am going to use the emergency break and that she needs to hang on because I'm not quite sure what will happen. I tap it once, the car jerks but does not stop. I press hard and the car jolts to a stop. I put the car in park and dial 911. I let the dispatcher know what has happened, where we are located, and that we are in inherent danger because of where I had to stop. We are between speeding vehicles and a solid concrete divider. Very little room for error. The dispatcher tells me that she is sending out an officer. She tells me that we should remain in whatever spot feels safest and not to accept any help from passing motorists. She connects me to AAA.(Automobile Association of America) AAA tells me that the tow truck will arrive by 5:55 PM. It is 5:20 PM.
"Mom, put the camera down. This is not a moment for blog fodder!" But I am doing my best to distract myself and my eighteen year old daughter from the thoughts of what just happened, and what could potentially still happen. I call my husband. She texts her boyfriend. We watch for the officer.
And while Angel Daughter Number Three was right when she told me that this was not necessarily an appropriate time to be composing a blog post in my mind, what she did not yet understand is that it was a teachable moment. Teachable for me, teachable for her and teachable for anyone else whom I might share this story with. Because before this blow-out occurred, I had no way of knowing what would happen if... And what my daughters might learn from my own, actual behavior in this kind of life or death situation.
What I do know is this.
|*Photo found in Town&Country magazine. September 2010 issue.(and no, I had no idea what I was going to use it for when I tore it out.)|
Which reminds me. It is not always what we say, but what we do, how we respond, react and rebound, that teaches our children how things should best be done. And as I recount this bit of life experience into some blog fodder, I am grateful that I was able to keep my little girl safe and oh, so sound.