I’ve obviously never driven a car.I have, however, ridden in one.For this post I’ve asked my mom, Linda, to recount a typical car ride for the three Tharp girls. Here’s a hint: we all get along now.
I’m not positive about the year, and I don’t remember where we were going, but this I still see clearly: our three daughters, ages five, six, and nine, sitting in the backseat of our burgundy Ford Taurus. A burgundy Ford Taurus—that puts the year at about 1992. Quite possibly the last year a Ford Taurus was in style.
It was summertime, or maybe it was just hot outside, because I remember a row of six bare legs visible from my spot in the passenger seat.
That simple equation—heat plus six legs belonging to children averaging 6.66 years in age crammed together in the backseat of a midsize sedan—could only equal trouble.
Kelley would have been sitting in the middle of the backseat because, as the youngest, pecking order demanded that she sit on the hump. Never mind that her legs were as long or longer than her next-oldest sister. Kelley got the hump. Which should have meant that her two sisters, although not happy about having to go anywhere (I’m positive we weren’t going anyplace fun, or the following situation would never have happened), wouldn’t have room for complaint.
Anyone with three kids knows that there’s always an odd man (or girl) out. In our family that was never Erin who, as the oldest, held the self-appointed title of Queen Bee. That left Kelley and Sarah frequently at odds and often vying for the title of Second in Command, a position Erin bestowed as she saw fit.
You get the picture: hot, three kids, two of whom are striving for entry into the third’s inner circle
After nine years of parenting and six years of parenting two or more, I thought I’d heard everything. Until the day of that hot car ride, that is. Because Sarah, desperate to mentally throw jabs at Kelley, tattled announced, “She’s looking out my window.” She probably said this before we had pulled out of the driveway.
Funny. I didn’t know car windows were personal property. And I would have said as much, if Kelley hadn’t spoken up first.
Now, Kelley might have been the youngest, but what she lacked in seniority she made up for in pluck. So what if she was stuck with the hump? So what if she was usually bribed with incomplete stationary kits or all-the-good-pages-already-colored coloring books so that Erin and Sarah could play video store (it was the 1990’s, after all) without her? Sometimes having pluck is enough.
So after Sarah pronounced that—gasp—Kelley was looking out her window, Kelley one-upped Sarah in the tattling information department by telling us that Sarah was “thinking bad thoughts about me.”
Was it Erma Bombeck who said never have more children than you have car windows? My sentiments exactly.
I may not remember the precise year, or where we were going that day, but I’m pretty certain we couldn’t get there fast enough.