Last week, on the way home from Grandma's house, I got a speeding ticket. If you've ever been in a car with me, you will know that this was hardly a new experience for me. I come from a family of heavy-footed drivers, and I have a long history of getting caught. I once got two tickets within ten days on the same stretch of I-75 in Kentucky. The second cop actually laughed out loud when he realized he had pulled me over within yards of the location where I had just been ticketed days before.
The thing that was new about this experience was that Ellie was with me. She was actually with me a few months ago when I got caught speeding, but she was sleeping and never woke up, in spite of the flashing lights. This time she was wide awake.
The cop was very polite -- he didn't give me the Buford T. Justice routine, and he wasn't wearing his mirrored sunglasses. But still, Ellie could tell I was not happy to be sitting by the side of the road talking to this guy. She stayed very quiet while he was standing at my window, but the second he walked away, she said "Mama, wassa matter?"
I tried to explain that Mama was driving too fast, and that I was in trouble for it. "Sort of like time-out," I said. "Whyyyyy?" came the question from the back seat. "Because I'm supposed to drive slower," I said. "I should be a good girl." "Oooooh," she said. "Mama bad. No NO." Yes, baby, that's right. Mama committed a no-no. She is a bad girl, and time-outs for grown-ups cost money.
I'd like to say that getting a ticket in front of my daughter made me a better person, and that I'll never again risk getting pulled over with her in the car. But I'd be lying. I can't remember the last time I willingly drove the speed limit, and I'm not likely to start now. It did, however, make me think twice about having to explain my actions to her, especially when they're not exactly actions I'm proud of.
Now if only I could get her to stop imitating my road rage . . .