Every summer since we moved up to Monroe from Long Island we’ve taken time at the Jersey Shore.  (A name which has now taken on a whole new meaning for reasons I won’t get into.)  But for eleven years, we’ve taken the drive down the Garden State to one of the exits to the shore, whether Seaside, Point Pleasant, and now Long Beach Island.  LBI as it’s commonly called, is extremely quiet, just the sounds of the gulls in the distance and the conversations of bicycle riders along the narrow street is about all you hear.  It’s blissfully quiet. 

My daughter came for a few days, and left yesterday; my sister in law left about an hour ago, and I have the house to myself til Saturday.  But this time has been like my New Year’s Eve.  It’s my time to think about the year that’s passed, and the one to come.  And now that the house is even quiet, it’s giving me more time to think. 

One thought that has been running through my head of late is that my kids are actually making me into a better person.  Isn’t that a kick in the head?  Let me explain.

Now that my oldest has been driving, she has taken on the role of “backseat driver” with a vengeance.  “Mom, you’re tailgating.”  or “Mom, where is your turn signal?”  and my favorite, “Mom, you didn’t count to three at that STOP sign.”  All the rules she has learned in her driving class, she has taken to heart, and I’m in her sights, and the second she witnesses one of my driving  transgressions, she’s on me, like  a motorcycle cop in the rear view mirror.

But it doesn’t end there.  This same daughter works at one of the big fast food chains, I won’t say which one, but it starts with an “M.”  She is now on a kick to only eat their salads or wraps, and drink water.  So, God forbid she catches me with french fries, or EGADS!  a diet soda.  “Mom, do you know what’s in a soda?”  or “MOM, french fries?” in her most disappointed voice.  And, me, feeling like I’ve just stepped on a puppy, sheepishly shrugs my shoulders, as sad as can be.  I have to say, however, that it’s working.  If anyone else were to tear into me like she does about my shortcomings, I’d probably stand up, look them straight in the eye, and say, “So what.”  But it’s my child….I should be a better example; remember that saying, “it’s now what you say, but what you do that matters”?  

So, I am making sure I use my turn signal everytime (I dislike those who don’t anyway), I am keeping far from fast food these days, and I do count 1-2-3 at every STOP sign.  After all, I have my youngest learning to drive now, and I know I’m going to be in her sights very soon.

With my house joyously quiet, and my daughters miles away, I am going to enjoy the peace as I sip my (shh!) diet soda.  But hold the fries.