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Monday, May 12, 2008

It is better to arrive than to travel

We bimble back in the car with full tummies. My son conducts a conversation with someone who is invisible. He takes both roles, an impressive achievement for someone who can remain silent for 5 hours solid:- “which you prefer? Decepticon or autobot? I don’t know? Neither to do I?” This question and answer circuit, circles and fills every molecule of the car, when we happen to pass a particular sign. The visual cue pokes my youngest into action, “Jack in dah Box! Jack in dah Box! Jack in dah Box!” I glower and keep an eye on the speedometer. “Mom?
“Yes dear?”
“How many minutes until we get home?”
“I’m not sure. Here, lets turn on the GPS, we can bet on how inaccurate it is.”
“Ooo 9.6 miles. Darn it. That’s gonna take forever!”
“Apparently not! It will only take us 12 minutes, see, just next to the mileage there’s the time slot.”
“Oh yeah.”

As we crack along the motorway she chimes a countdown, copies the female robotic voice of the GPS:- “9.5 miles, 9.4 miles, 9.3 miles.” How many excruciating moments do I have to endure in this moving cage, preferably without crashing? I check the time slot, who would have thought that 9 minutes could be so painful. All three of my children continue to talk on their own circuit but of course there are four voices in total. I purse my lips, concentrate on the traffic and pray for safe deliverance.

As we reach the 3 mile point, the magic number for one child, he decides to switch over from “Jack in the Box” and join his sister in the count down, but his mimicry is far more accurate. He and the GPS woman could be twins. My older son notices that the mileage and time slot match, 3 miles and 3 minutes, a magical mystery that triggers his attention and kick starts his voice box into the same groove as his siblings. The triplets are in perfect harmony, two boys and the GPS woman. My daughter’s voice is very close but ever so slightly off. The effect is quadraphonic with one set of dodgy wiring. They are so loud I can hardly hear the GPS woman. We travel at a steady speed with the rhythmical chant of plain song. I am quite certain that my head will explode in the next 60 seconds amid the jungle drums. I can feel my foot pressure on the accelerator as we pull off the exit and reel around to the traffic lights.

We wait at the traffic lights, idling quietly, with static figures on the GPS. We pull off, without robotic verbal guidance at 25 mph in a residential area, different speed, different pace but the boys are able to chime in at the exact moment when 0.9 miles is announced. My brain is completely floored by this feat. If I was not already silent I would be struck dumb. As I hit the button for the garage door my daughter asks, “how do they do that Mom?”


Not so much savant, but some kind of uncannily savvy.

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