Last weekend, we drove to an all-day soccer event for our oldest daughter. The weather turned the three-hour drive into four hours, and the first game was at 8, so we left around 4 a.m. That is a terrible hour of the day to attempt to get three sleepy kids and a grumpy husband into the car to leave, but we managed.
Saturday was the first day we had snow this season, and the roads were bad at 4 a.m. They got worse as we got closer to our destination. Cars were spun the wrong way on the Ohio interstates we traversed, and speeds never topped 45 mph. Plus, it was dark the whole way, which added to the intrigue. We arrived safely and prepared to play.
She played three games, losing only one, and then we began the long trek home. My husband – not much of a soccer fan – was only too happy to be on the way. Happiest at home, he was becoming more and more animated as we crossed the miles towards home and his comfort zone.
That is, until the tire blew.
We limped a half mile or so down I-30 to a rest stop where we could more safely maneuver around the truck. The parking lot had been plowed, but the snow still fell, so the conditions were less than ideal for crawling on the ground.
I borrowed one of the kids’ blankets from the truck and spread it out for my husband. He began gathering the tools we would need to release the tire from under the bed of the truck and to change the flat one for it.
After a few minutes of struggling, we were able to assemble the jack – the handle alone came in three pieces – and begin the actual process of changing the tire. I was enjoying the situation far more than was my husband. While he was finger-loosening the lug nuts and trying not to swear, I was using the angle iron to amuse the children.
First, I gave them a front-row seat to the air-guitar performance of my life. I rocked out on that angle iron for a full minute, until my oldest caught my eye to inform me that people were staring. I switched tack then, and pretended to be a very elderly person with a teeny-tiny cane. I also pretended to be a unicorn and pranced a bit.
I was a hit with the 10-and-under set. But while my youngest two were quite amused, my oldest was mortified. That kind of worked as a bonus for me.
When the tire was changed and the tools put away, I think the kids were actually a bit disappointed. But we had managed to maintain some semblance of fun throughout the trial, and I was a bit proud of our success. I even remarked to my husband about what a great team we make. He may have rolled his eyes about my contribution, but he didn’t disagree.
Truth be told, though, I think he would have agreed to just about anything at that point, just as long as we could get back on the road and head home.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.