DISTRACTED DRIVING

Distractions are dangerous when driving. It’s why using your phone while on the road gets you a hefty fine from the police and the loss of demerit points.

Distractions are bad. We don’t need or want them when driving, but sometimes it’s out of our control. Like when the kids argue with each other in the back seats of the car or when you sneak a peek at the hot topless man jogging down the street. Sometimes distractions just happens.

The worst kind of distraction is the one you can’t even see… it’s called brain overload. You know, when you’re so in your own head thinking about upcoming bills to pay, scheduling appointments, grocery shopping items, how much washing you have etc. You’re thinking about the million and one things that need to be done.

Brain overload was quite possibly the reason for all the accidents and near-accidents that keep happening to me lately. A few weeks ago, while on my way home from school drop-off, I was in brain overload mode. I was thinking of the sale of the house, what to buy for dinner, the bills I had yet to pay, and a whole host of other unnecessary thoughts when I sideswiped a car.

I was driving around a bend of a single lane road. There was a parked car in my lane, and so I had to veer around it and drive into the opposite lane. As I was passing the parked car, another car driving in the opposite direction came past. Instead of waiting for me to past the parked car and get back into my lane, the oncoming car refused to give way and continued on. In order to avoid side swiping it, I pitched further towards the parked car and side swiped its side mirror. Does this make sense? Maybe the below picture will help.

Blue car: me

I heard the sound of smashed glass as I past and I knew without a doubt that I had hit the parked car. I parked and went to inspect the damage on my car. There was none. For about a second, I thought about driving off but immediately chastised myself for being a shit human being. I went to inspect the other car. The cap on the side mirror had fallen off and a bit of plastic was broken. Other than that, nothing else was damaged. I had my son with me, so we walked up to the nearest cafe to get paper and pen, and left my details under the window wipers.

I received a phone call later in the day. The old gentleman told me his wife had just passed and the car used to belong to her. He was going through a tough time in his life and that he was grateful for my honesty. So instead of going through insurance and costing me an arm and a leg in excess insurance money, he got his mechanic friend to fix it for a third of the cost. Luckily for me, as it was an expensive BMW sports car.

A few days ago I was innocently driving along when a Chopper Reid looking bloke in a Holden Commodore blew out from a side street and almost became a T-bone accident statistic. He had the audacity to stick his finger up at me, like it was my fault he didn’t give way. It rattled me quite a bit.

Blue car: me again

Then yesterday, I almost had another accident while doing a right turn into a highway. The car in the opposite direction did a left turn into the same highway and nearly collided with me. However, after my initial indignant reaction, I realised I was at fault as I was meant to give way first. I can’t chalk it up to distractions, it was simply ignorance.

Blue car: that’s right, me again!

My husband joked that because I’m an Asian woman, poor driving is to be expected. Actually, I don’t think he was even joking! He fully believes this stereotype of Asian women.

It got me thinking. Why do people believe stereotypes? Why do people subconsciously and consciously have oversimplified and overgeneralised beliefs about groups of people?

Does culture play a role? If we are raised in a culture and surrounded by a society that readily accepts certain stereotypes, are those biases programmed into our psyche?

What about media? It’s not uncommon for stereotypes to be exaggerated in movies and tv shows. Remember Apu from The Simpsons?

Anyway, my husband and I had a heated disagreement about stereotypes. He believes they play an important role and there’s a reason they exist. My counter arguments were that stereotypes limit people’s ability to be tolerant by encouraging prejudices and oversimplifies negative assumptions about groups of people in a hurtful way.

It was a pointless exercise as we have such different worldviews and cultural influences. In the end, the only thing we could agree on was this… stereotype and distractions aside… maybe, just maybe, I’m simply a bad driver.

Copyright © 2022, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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NIGHTMARE ON SALE STREET

We took the plunge and decided to sell our family home to capitalise on the crazy growth in our area. In doing so, we had to find a rental house to live in while we looked for our next home. People say moving house and selling a house are two of life’s most stressful events. To be honest, I think finding a house to live in might rival both.

We spent all of last December and half of January this year attending inspection upon inspection to find a suitable rental house. We trawled through numerous listings on the internet, many of which had beautiful photos, but in real life were dumps. Many places were run-down, a lot were too expensive for us, and very few met our expectations. And the paperwork to apply for one of these places… horrendously tedious. We did end up finding a small townhouse that mostly fit the bill and the process of packing up ten years of living began shortly after.

Can I just say that even as someone who lives by the Kondo philosophy, the accumulation of junk over ten years was surprising. I mean, it shouldn’t be given my children are the only grandkids and are doted on by both sides. And even with the regular spring clean that I do with the unwanted toys, I still had to get rid of a truckload of unwanted goods.

Also, no one tells you about the sadness of leaving the family home – a place of familiarity and security. There were many nights I lay awake, restless in thought and questioning our decision to sell.

After moving house, I jumped into sprucing up our old home for listing. A good number of hours were spent cleaning, weeding and mulching to get the surrounding gardens looking respectable. After the gardens were done, I got professional cleaners in to give the house a once-over. It was a complete waste of money. They did a poor job, damaged the paint on feature walls and stainless steel surfaces with their harsh chemicals and caused me more money in repairs as a result. Tradespeople were in short supply so we ended up hiring the first available handyman to fix the repairs. He did a pretty shoddy job. Eventually, after about three weeks, I had the house in a reasonable state for sale. I was ready to hand over to the real estate agent and be done. How wrong I was!

My elderly neighbour started the process of selling her home a few weeks ahead of us. We’ve been neighbours for ten years and over that time, we’ve traded gifts and birthday wishes. We have shared many conversations about family and well-being. Selling our houses at the same time wasn’t supposed to be an issue. But it became a problem and I was blindsided by my neighbour’s cold brush off. Money changes people!

Suddenly, I found myself with a dead rat in my yard on the first open house inspection and illegally dumped hard rubbish in front of my sale board on the second. Now, I’m not blaming anyone, only pointing out that it was a rather big coincidence that my first inspections were marred with incidents. My agent kept calling about noisy neighbours trekking through the house and callously opening and slamming cupboards. It became apparent that I had offended someone and instead of approaching me with concerns, I was propelled back to high school antics and group mob mentality intimidation tactics.

On the day of my neighbour’s auction, I sent a text message wishing her all the best despite my better instincts telling me to avoid poking an angry bear. I genuinely wanted her to get a great sale. I forced myself to attend the auction for information gathering and was confronted by a group of neighbours who were loudly voicing their displeasure, seemingly about me. These normally level-headed people formed an angry mob by feeding off of each other’s negative energy. They aimed their collective frustrations at me, someone who they didn’t know from a bar of soap. Why were they all so angry?

After waiting on tenterhooks for retribution from neighbours for the treasonous act of daring to sell my house at the same time as my neighbour, my house finally sold today without a hitch. No one came to yell obscenities or try to disrupt proceedings. No one even bothered to come except my neighbour, who seemed like she was back to her old self. We traded a few words and all seemed well. Whatever bee under her bonnet was gone and her hive of supporting neighbours had settled.

I am beyond relieved to put this saga behind me. No one should ever go through a trifecta of life’s most stressful events, let alone add a bunch of agitated neighbours to the mix. If I’ve learnt anything from this experience, it’s that I don’t give myself enough credit in my ability to face life’s challenges. I let self-doubt and anxiety take root in my psyche more often than not. So, next time life throws me a curveball, I’m going to remind myself that I’m a capable person with years of experience under my belt, both with successes and failures. Whatever happens, I know that I’ve given my best, and in the end, that is what matters the most!

Copyright © 2022, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

PRIVACY POLICY

CHUMP CHANGE

There is the ‘fun’ parent and the ‘chump’ parent. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, don’t even bother pretending that there’s no such thing. The ‘fun’ parent is the one who says yes to ice-creams for dessert on a school night, sides with the children for takeaway when dinner has been organised and spends more time with the better versions of the children. The ‘chump’, aka usually the mother, is treated like an emotional punching bag, expected to front for active duty 24/7, and rarely gets the appreciation they deserve.

I’ll give you an example of how I am the ‘chump’ parent. This morning, instead of waking at some ungodly hour, our 5-year-old son slept in. His sister and dad were in the kitchen having breakfast while I was on the potty. Our son woke up cranky and a bit alarmed to be alone in the bedroom. He hates being left alone anywhere and is basically afraid of his own shadow.

This was the interaction that followed:

From his bed, he yelled out “Mummy! Come!

“I’m on the potty!”

Whimpering ensued and with more force, he screamed “Mummy! Come NOW!”

“I’M ON THE POTTY!” I mean, come on! You can’t rush these things!

Not getting his way immediately, he had a meltdown of nuclear proportions.

“MUMMY! MUMMY! COME NOW! I WANT YOU TO COME NOW!”

You’re probably wondering why he didn’t ask the ‘fun’ parent to come, right? Why didn’t his dad go check on him? Because the ‘fun’ parent is also the clever parent who knows to avoid and not indulge a cantankerous child who woke up on the wrong side of the bed and in the throes of a temper tantrum. No one sane would bother to entertain this situation, no one except for the ‘chump’ parent. 

Later in the day, I got another reality check, a reminder that I was the ‘chump’ parent. We were sitting on a bench on the edge of the prep playground waiting to pick up our son from school. Today was his second day of prep transition where he got to meet his 2022 prep teacher and classmates. As there were forty-odd parents milling around the exit of the classroom, I was worried that our son wouldn’t be able to see us sitting so far away, so I moved to stand closer within the middle of the crowd. My husband hadn’t seen the need to move and stayed on the bench.

The children were told to wait on the verandah until they could see a parent and to inform their teacher before leaving. As I was frantically waving like the embarrassing parent that I am, our son had no problem seeing me. After notifying his teacher, he started running toward me clutching a piece of paper in his hand. Anticipating a hug, I smiled and bent down with my arms wide open, ready to embrace him.

Imagine my surprise to see him bypass my outstretched arms, veer left of me and continue towards his dad, who was sitting on the bench across the yard. I quickly dropped my arms and stood up. Awkward!

It wasn’t a deliberate act on his part. He was simply excited to show his dad, the ‘fun’ parent, the art he made during class. But geez, talk about epic burns! I wanted to clap and say, “Well played Sir, well played indeed.”

A friend of mine witnessed the encounter and burst out laughing, which made me giggle instead of being mortified with embarrassment because let’s be honest here, my son basically performed the equivalent of a fake high-five to me.   

I asked my husband if he saw what transpired, to which he replied, “Yeah, it was pretty funny. You should blog about it.” Hah! Of course, I was gonna blog about parental embarrassment. It’s the only way for me to process – a problem shared is a problem halved and all that.

Anyway, on the walk back to the car, our son engaged in an animated discussion with his dad about his time during prep transition. I tried getting in on the conversation by asking some relevant questions. 

“What kind of things did you do?”

“Who did you sit next to?”

“Do you know what your teacher’s name is?”

Maybe I wasn’t asking the right questions. Perhaps my voice sits in a frequency range that’s incompatible with our son’s hearing. More likely though, he has selective hearing and by selective, I mean he point-blank ignores me. Rude much? My husband does make an effort by reminding the children not to snub me, but it’s grating to need the favourite parent to intervene on my behalf. It’s even more annoying that I need a third party involvement to get the children to spare me a few minutes of their attention. This is another example of what a ‘chump’ parent has to deal with. 

Anyhow, it is a hard pill to swallow knowing that you’re not the favourite parent. Being the ‘chump’ parent doesn’t always feel good and can be pretty bruising on the ego. Apparently, people say that children will often act poorly with one particular parent, often mums, because they feel safe and secure in your love for them and so, are comfortable letting loose with their emotions. 

But here’s the thing, when our children are hurt, sick or in need of comfort, they come to me. It’s in those moments that they relish my warm hugs and comforting touch. And it’s in those moments that I know, without a doubt, that I mean more to them than just being a ‘chump’ parent. 

Perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong. Instead of thinking of myself as the ‘chump’ parent, maybe it’s high time I consider myself the ‘comfort’ parent.

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