Sunday, November 16, 2008

Driving in water

Today I went out to the house we're renovating and (hopefully) renting out. While we were there a thunderstorm hit. It was one of the most severe storms we've had all year. There was lightning and thunder and high winds, broken power lines, power poles down, trees all over the place and flash flooding. It was magnificent.

I love storms but that's a story for another entry, I think. I hate driving in them.

We waited until the worst of it had passed - at least enough that we could see the road through the rain - then set out for home. The highway between Ipswich and Brisbane was flooded in several sections. I was absolutely amazed at how many people have no idea how to drive in water, although I suppose it's understandable - we haven't had any water for a long time. They were all just driving into the water at the same speed they'd normally drive. It's no wonder they just planed across the top of it (didn't give the tyres any time to grip the road) and slammed into other cars. There were also cars stopped along the side of the road - obviously hit the water too hard and it got into the engine and stopped the car. Nobody dried their brakes afterwards either. I'm surprised there weren't more accidents.

When we were growing up, floods were common. There was at least one every year and if we wanted to get to the next town, we had to drive through water. My father always explained to us the process of driving through water safely.

1. If there's been some rain around, check road reports before you leave. You don't want to get caught between to rising causeways and have no escape route.
2. Check the water level on the road - most country roads have signs at causeways that indicate the depth of water. If it's too deep, turn around and go back home. If it's rising, get out of there fast. If it's moving but not rising, get out and check it. If it's deep and you can feel the drag of the water when it's only a few inches deep, turn around and go back home. You don't want to be washed away.
3. Always stop and allow other cars to get clear of the water before you enter it. The last thing you want is their backwash getting into your engine.
4. Always use low gear, go slowly and never, never stop once you get into the water. Keep moving, slowly and steadily.
5. Once you're clear of the water, use your brakes. Apply slow gentle pressure repeatedly to warm the brakes and dry them out. Another last thing you want is to try to use your brakes further down the road and not have any.

That was it. Five basic things to do. I don't know if it's because we've been in a drought for so long people have forgotten, or never been taught, how to drive in water or because they think that if they're in the city they shouldn't need to worry about those things. I do know there were a lot of stalled and damaged cars out there this afternoon and I firmly believe most of it could have been avoided.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How do you get your teenager to talk to you?

How do you get your teenager to talk to you? Apart from building a relationship that encourages talking and listening, I found going for a drive helped.

You can’t get out of a moving car. You have to stay there until the car stops.

Of course getting my daughter into the car when she was angry about something was impossible, so I waited, usually until we had to go somewhere. Often it was on our way to horse riding or synchronised swimming lessons. Both of those activities were about an hour’s drive from home. After the first few minutes of making sure we had everything we needed before we got too far from home to turn back, the drive became silent. Sometimes she was the one to break the silence, sometimes I was, but the silence was necessary. It gave us time to draw breath, to settle into quiet time together.

Then my daughter started chatting. Her conversation wasn’t ordered or logical, it jumped from one seemingly unrelated topic to another. It was sometimes difficult to follow exactly what she was talking about or why it was important for her to mention it. It all seemed innocuous.

Until the last ten minutes or so of the drive. That’s when the real topic came to light. Something serious and important that she was grappling with at the time. Something she hadn’t been able to sort out for herself. I used to get frustrated because we’d just get into the meat of the topic, the real problem, and we’d reach our destination. I think my daughter planned it that way. She never wanted me to tell her what she should do. She wanted to make her own decisions in life. My role was to listen and support and provide ideas she could consider while making her decision. If we never finished the conversation, I wouldn’t have time to give the ‘dreaded’ advice.

She’s 25 now and we still go for drives. Not so many any more, not so often, but a few times a year we arrange to go somewhere together that takes a while and we chat. We’ve also learned to condense our conversations into the time it takes to drive between our houses, although there’s often a half hour or more sitting in the car at the footpath when we stop because we haven't finished talking yet.

Our relationship has evolved – now she gives me advice on how to live my life.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I love being a mother

Being a mother has to be one of the most fulfilling things in life. Well, at least now it is - when Lauren is grown up and I'm only occasionally responsible. This afternoon I got a phone call and as soon as I answered the cry came: "I need veges".

With Lauren that usually means she's been working too hard, not sleeping enough and not eating properly, she's on the verge of becoming ill and she wants me to cook for her and pamper her for an hour or so. Vegetables will fix most of that - they've always been Lauren's favourite food group. Tonight, it's not quite the case. Yes, she's been working too hard and not sleeping enough, but she's making a real effort to keep eating properly through it all. She's just run out of veges and wants to make a stirfry tonight.

So she's coming over to raid my fridge. I love it. I love that she feels she can call on me any time. I love that she feels at home in my home and knows anything that's mine is hers (as long as any jewellery she borrows comes back to me at some stage). I especially love that she knows she has someone she can rely on. And I love that that person is me. I don't feel any burning need to be that person all the time but it's nice that I am sometimes.

And tonight she's not asking me to cook for her. She can look after herself. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new stage in our relationship?