I watched a mom sitting in a repair shop waiting room with her toddler, a rambunctious little guy of maybe three. It was several years ago, but I am reminded of it sometimes, as I was today, and it makes me glad we decided to make the leap we have made.
The shop had a pretty clean waiting room. The plastic chairs weren’t that comfortable, but there was a TV and a big fish tank and even a little mat in the corner with one of those wire puzzles kids can slide the little beads around on. There was a plastic dump trunk and a faded plastic ambulance. But that was it for kid entertainment.
Needless to say, it took the boy about eleven minutes to be bored of all of that. He did manage to linger at the fish tank a little, slapping handprints onto it, but his mom was quick to jump up and put a stop to that all four times I saw him do it while I was there.
“You’ll scare the fish,” she said the first time. “They are living creatures. You have to be nice to them.”
I don’t think he was too concerned with their status as living or creatures, so he hit the tank again.
“Baby, stop it, now.” This time was much more serious. He looked back with that toddler-is-testing-you face, and slapped the tank again. He was totally testing to see if she’d get up.
She did. Which is probably good, because a glance at the counter guy showed he was watching too. Maybe they were his fish. He didn’t look very happy about it, but he was very courteous and didn’t say anything. I just happened to catch the look that flashed across his face.
Rather than say anything to her, or the boy, he said instead, “I have some Disney sing-alongs I can put in.” The TV was already on Cartoon Network, but this kid was too young for the show that was on.
“Great,” she said.
Slap number three. She’d let him go too soon.
She retrieved him again and hauled him back to her seat. I couldn’t hear what she said, sort of mumbling into his ear as she set him next to her.
He started crying of course.
She tried to pacify him with some string cheese out of her purse. That seemed to mollify him for a bit.
She stared at the TV with that exhausted mommy thousand-yard stare, and I went back to scrolling on my phone.
SLAP. SLAP, SLAP, SLAP.
I don’t know how much time had gone by, but she was looking up from her phone at the same time I looked up from mine. That sneaky kid had gotten back to the tank again.
The counter guy looked up too.
Again, to his credit, he didn’t say anything, but I knew he was thinking it.
I was thinking, “Why do you have a fish tank in here if having kids slap the glass irritates you?”
I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just wondering.
Mom got up and dragged the little rascal back and held him in her lap. He of course hated that, and so the struggle and the wailing began.
The counter guy went back to working on his computer. I could tell he was used to this type of noise, at least.
One of the guys from out in the shop came in, and I recognized my keys clipped to the clipboard. The counter guy took them and tapped at the computer keys again.
“You’re ready,” he said to me a moment later with a smile.
I went up and paid, and as I walked out, the mother looked up and our eyes locked for a moment. She knew I understood. She was fine, and this was her routine, but no matter how used to it you get, it’s never fun when a toddler is doing its toddler thing.
I smiled a warm yet sympathetic smile and went outside, glad to be out of the noise.
But as I think about it now, I realize that my new company, Oil Revo, is really for people like her. Her kid is older now, as this was a few years ago, but how many moms are out there going through that exact thing?
And, if we’re being honest, how many counter guys are putting up with that too? He was very professional, but I know he wasn’t having any fun.
And while I didn’t mind so much, as a parent myself, I will admit, I could have done without the screaming too.
So for all those parents out there, raising kids and driving them around, for what it’s worth, you do have an option now. If nothing else, at least you can let your kid have that tantrum at your house. We’ll be outside in the driveway, taking care of that service for you, your oil change delivered right to where you are.
Maybe you have a better collection of DVDs. Or you can just set him in his room until the storm passes. Whatever your solution is, it can at least be on your time, in your place, and not at the expense of anybody else’s fish.