E is for Emissions Test

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Readers who know me in real life probably assume I mean the emissions test for my own real car. (A Volvo station wagon. Because I like to take the suburban Mom thing as far as I can.) A few weeks ago I was pulled over for an expired registration. Lily was confused. Why was the policeman helping us? That’s what policemen do, right? Help people? We didn’t need help….

I told Lily that Mommy had the wrong sticker on her car. They aren’t stickers any more. But that’s not important to a three-year-old. I told her Mommy had to take her car to get “fixed”and get the right sticker. And then I didn’t drive my car for a week. And then I made several trips to the DMV. And now, it’s taken care of.

So people who know me in person may assume that’s the emissions test I mean. But hey. I live-tweeted that situation already. (Think I’m kidding? Look me up. @ThrlyMdrnMindy) So I’m not gonna tell that story.

Instead, I’m going to tell the story of the emissions test for Lily’s Barbie Jeep.

Friday was gorgeous. After months indoors, we were able to play outside for an hour. So Lily asked if she could drive her Barbie Jeep (a fancy Power Wheels that Santa found on Craigslist).

And she does like to drive it. She’s better at the pedal than she is the steering. So there’s a lot of crashing. But she likes to drive it.

More importantly, though, she uses it as the coolest prop ever in her game of Let’s Pretend We’re Grown-Ups.

On Friday afternoon, Lily picked me up in her Jeep. (fortunately I’m a teeny tiny Mommy and I can kinda sorta fit if I sit on top of the seat back.) She drove until she crashed, then announced that we would get out to play the piano. We wandered around until she announced that we were finished, drove until we crashed, and stopped again. She needed to get gas. The gas process was detailed and accurate- from taking off the gas cap to waving at me from the back to paying with a card at the invisible pump.

A moment later we crashed again. I was instructed to stay in the car. (Notice: at no point in Lily’s 4 years has she been left in the car alone. Just for the record.) She told me she was meeting some friends. She met them last night. At a grown-up party. Where they drank beer and ate spicy things. They’re really nice.

Unfortunately her friends didn’t show. Probably off someone drinking beer and eating spicy things, I suppose. So we drove away. And we stopped. We didn’t crash. We just stopped.

She got out of her car, put her hands on her hips, and opened the hood. She shook her head. “It’s not working.” She said. She then instructed me to be “that guy who fixes the cars.” She needed it fixed so she could get the right sticker.

Fortunately for Lily I have an imaginary certificate in imaginary car repair and emissions testing. So I gave her the imaginary sticker and we drove away.

And the whole game was both delightful and terrifying.

Playing with Lily is fun. The other day I was sitting in a lecture with a group of Moms. We were learning about ways to connect and play with our children. This has never been an issue for me. (Cleaning, on the other hand. Well… see tomorrow’s post.) It’s great for parents to have some things to initiate. But for the most part I’ve found that if I follow her lead, she can come up with more fun than I ever could. And I get to work on my improv acting chops.

But it was also terrifying. Lily drove herself through a day in the life of Mommy with more accuracy than my husband could. She’s learning about life and how it works by watching and copying Mommy and Daddy.

No pressure.

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