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Friday, March 20, 2009

Lessons From Life

Sue Q.'s post about her daughter getting her license takes me back. Wayyyy back to my first real driving experience.

When I was eight.

It was summer, it was hot, and we were putting up hay. As kids we were always out there, rolling bales in to the truck for the guys to buck. I'm not sure what happened - probably someone had to go home - but all of the sudden they were out of a driver. (My ten year old sister Laura was no doubt driving the other truck. The automatic.) So the crew called me over, and initiated me into the mysteries of "The Stick Shift".

And told me to drive.

Might I add that the truck was stacked at about three or four bales high at this point, making a rough clutch just a tad treacherous for the poor guys trying to catch and stack.

And my clutch was rough. It was kind of like that song, "Bounding on the Billows." They kept making it sound really easy - just push that one down, then give it some gas, and then lift that one up - easier said than done when you're eight. But somehow I managed, although the quality of the ride was in serious question, and no doubt their were lives in danger.

This was also the year I learned to drive a tractor.

Enter Tim, my brother.

Ten years older than me, he was living close by and had apparently been at our house playing with the heavy equipment - because he got the Cat (bulldozer) stuck in the crick. My parents were gone, and even I knew he'd be in trouble if they got home and found out. Apparently, it wasn't a risk he was willing to take, and unfortunately for him, I was the only one home.

So we took off on the tractor, and he got the Cat out, and then stuck me on the tractor and said, "Okay, follow me to the house." I'm sure there was a short lesson in there about how to make it go, and how to make it stop, but all I remember is being eight years old, and feeling absolutely exhilarated as I drove that big piece of machinery across the field ALL BY MYSELF.

Can I just say how empowering that was? Dangerous, no doubt, and it's true I almost hit a phone pole, and he had to run after me, jump on, and steer me around it, but still. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world to be the sole operator of that tractor, with the wind blowing my hair, and my two little hands on the steering wheel.

In fact, I think you could say it's had a lasting effect. First off, I still love driving tractors - although I seldom get the opportunity. But even more than that, I think how much those experiences of responsibility and accomplishment must have done for me as an individual. I've always kind of felt like I could do anything if it was required of me, and looking back I think that confidence must stem from situations like these.

And no, I'm not endorsing underage driving of vehicles or tractors.

Instead, I'm just trying to invoke these feelings of empowerment as I tackle an insurmountable challenge: Homemade Birthday Invitations.

Please don't laugh, this is serious. I might have to cut and paste - and lets not even talk about a stamp pad. I would never have brought this on myself, but my turning-eight son just informed me that he wants to make his invitations in a conversation just like the following:

N: Mom, I need invitations for my birthday party.

Me: Okay honey, we'll go to the store and pick some out.

N: No, I want to make them.

Me: (reeling at the very idea) What??!!! No, no, no. Store bought ones are way better. We'll find some cool ones.

N: But I want to make them. Like Skyler did. He took paper, and made it cool, and wrote everything on it himself and put it in an envelope. Why can't we do that?

Me: (Cursing Kyler, and speechless at having produced a child who expresses a desire to voluntarily engage in crafts).

I know most of you are thinking I'm over-reacting, and that this really isn't a big deal. But that's because you don't know me. And you've never seen me try to craft. It's not just that any and all crafting projects of mine look so bad, it's that I hate doing them. And I can never think of what to do. And if I ever manage to make something that looks halfway decent, I can't stand the thought of parting with it.

This has happened about two times.

So anyway, I'm stuck. I must craft. I must pull from the resources of self-confidence gleaned from being forced behind the wheel at a tender age, under stressful situations. The worst part? They're invitations, so other (no doubt craftier) women will see them. My brilliant strategy - tell everyone the kid made them himself. After all - no one is going to laugh at a kid, right?

17 comments:

wendy said...

Driving at 8 --------you are skilled and it prepared you for lifes huge challenges yet to face. (if you get mad, just think of being 8 and driving over them with the tractor )kinda like the end of the post ---you can't get mad at a kid, right? Same with the invites. I NEVER ever EVER want to try and make anything myself. NEVER.

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

That is so funny that you got to drive at 8, what a great story!!! The first time I got behind the wheel, I was 17 and didn't get my license till I was 18...grr.

Laura said...

Haha, how did you get so lucky to get to drive the tractor so early?? I didn't learn to drive it till I was 14 or something, I think! Tim taught me to drive a stick the summer I stayed with him when I was 16. I think I could have really used some more confidence building experiences, lol!

nikkicrumpet said...

LOL anybody that can drive a tractor at the tender age of 8 can certainly fold, cut and paste some paper. And you know we want pictures of these invitations when you're done...hopefully so we can mock you mercilessly and feel better about our own talents hehehe

Sue Q said...

Amen, sister! Let the kid get creative! Encourage the crafty side to come out, even if he didn't inherit it from you ~ that's WAAAAAAAY more liberating than driving lessons!

Alison Wonderland said...

Or you could just actually let him do them himself. Give him his own 8yr old sense of accomplishment.

Haynsy said...

I'm thinking that your childhood was better than mine.

But you did give me a blog idea.

You have that effect on me.

Melissa Bastow said...

How about I make your invitations and then you can drive me around in a tractor? Because even to this very day I cannot drive a stick shift. And I think I was still falling off of my bicycle at the age of 8...

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Jen,
YES!!!!!!! You got it!!! Authorblog is the culprit that set me to a readin' you! Gotta run right now....but I'll be back! Can't wait to read this one!!!! I notice you aren't crafty either!!!! XO Janine

Sniffles and Smiles said...

I'm baaack...and lovin' this post!!!! Can I ever relate???? Hide behind your kids...works everytime! Brilliant strategy! And brilliant post! I'm sorry to hear about your mom...she'll be in my prayers. Thank you, David, for the introduction to a wonderful bloggie...Jen!

Shelley said...

That really is a neat story, the 1st one..HA HA.. Let your son make them. That will be one of his great memories.

Machen family said...

I'm also going to be working on a craft here pretty soon...I'm nervous yet this craft is going to be special, I feel. Anyways I wrote you an email to your yahoo account, and I know you told me before that you really don't check that one a lot. I kind of explained my absence....

susette said...

I'm coming over from Mormon Mommy Blogs, asking for your help. I am in the running for a round trip airfare paid ticket to Connecticut, to meet a friend I became acquainted with through blogging. She is a super fun person and is holding this contest. I entered a funny story titled "Grapejuice Floaties, Now Marry Me." The person whose story receives the most votes will win a trip to meet this generous lady, whom I'm hoping to meet. The voting ends tonight-midnight. I used to be ahead but there is a story coming up from behind out of nowhere, and it's a tight race now. I would so much appreciate your help. Her blog is www.becausemomsaidso.blogspot.com and the voting is on the sidebar on the right. "Grapejuice, Floaties" Just go there and cast a vote for me, please. Thanks so much-you're awesome! ♥♥

Barbaloot said...

Crafts are Satan's punishment.

Jen said...

Barbaloot - truer words were never spoken.

Natalie said...

Wow! You've been busy! I didn't get on the computer all weekend and it looks like I'm all kinds of behind on blog reading!

jane said...

seriously. I cannot imagine you being truly uncomfortable "crafting" when you have this AMAZING talent at writing. I am TERRIBLE at writing, if only you lived closer, we could be an excellent balance for one another...