31 May 2012

The Day the Car Went Bang

Yesterday morning, we were all packed up and on our way to the swimming pool, when something inside our car went "pop" and then the engine starting making a low hissing roar whilst smoke poured in from goodness knows where.

We were very lucky to be somewhere safe to just pull in and unload everyone. The smoke and noise stopped as soon as the engine cut, so us five girls sat under a big tree whilst Martin poked around a bit to try to see if he could find a fixable problem to reassure us with. I started packing coats and sunhats and water bottles into bags so that I could get the girls home by bus. DSC06388
Two buses, and £9 poorer, we got back safe and sound. Martin got the car to a garage, where they told him they couldn't tell him anything until they took it apart, and he headed off to work on foot (just over half an hour's walk).
Our trip was unexpectedly nice, even. Rowan sat next to a sweet little old lady on the first bus, who fussed over how lovely she was and answered her seriously when she chattered. She asked whether the girls were not at school today, and when I replied that they are home educated she said, "how wonderful!" which was very refreshing. In town a lady stopped us to say that she loved the sling, and that it was nice to see a parent looking pleased to be with their children. At that point I was feeling more hot and tired than happy, so the compliment was much appreciated. On the second bus, we were even helped off with our armful of bags. These are the moments when I think that life is good and people are kind, and that it will all be OK.

Today brought mixed news.  The car isn't fixable without taking the entire front end apart to get at the problem, so that isn't a possibility.  Fortunately but somewhat nervewrackingly, it is actually still drivable in its current state - only it needs the water topping up every half an hour or so.  This leaves us with a horrendous decision, safety wise; take out roadside assistance and drive very carefully, or ditch the car and take the train for our two rapidly approaching holidays carrying enough stuff for six people AND changing trains at Birmingham without losing anyone.  Ugh.

I'm leaning towards thinking the car is do-able, though it makes me nervous as heck.  We were lucky not to have ended up with nowhere to stop the first time - but on the other hand the garage were very reassuring about the engine surviving as long as the water is refilled regularly.  I don't know enough about cars to either doubt or trust that particular advice!

And on to today.  Yesterday was frustrating and stressful and caused a lot of anxiety for me.  It got better, but I think the morning was sufficiently dramatic that all of the children were a bit shaken.  Anyway, I'm grasping at straws for an excuse as to why they have fought all morning and then Jenna has screamed at me most of the afternoon.  At one point I felt so much like slapping her I shut myself in the bathroom for a while.

I didn't shout back at her, and I stayed calm and reasonable.  I defended my boundaries, without punishing or belittling her.  I was not rude and obnoxious back.  But I still feel guilty.  And wrung out. Seven is hard - I remember just how hard it felt when it was me yelling at my mum that she didn't love me and would never understand me.  Today, I don't have any hard-won wisdom, just a lot of blah.

But I'm listing grace, anyway.
- We have enough savings put by to consider repairing the car
- Everyone was safe when it went wrong, and we were able to get home easily
- We have options for still going on holiday
- I am able to be calmer and more reasonable than a year ago
- I know that just as my mum and I got through it, Jenna and I will survive this tricksy independence dance
- packing for camp is nearly done
- Lael's rose is blooming gorgeously
- Martin has worked extra shifts this week so we don't have to be so careful with food money
- The way Rowan kisses me then gazes up as if to check I'm smiling
- Friends to debrief to, a cup of tea, and much-needed empathy
- I got a "sorrey" card through my door just this minute *melt*


  1. WE had a similar experience on the way back from the zoo a few years ago.
    It was very scary to see smoke coming out of our car!
    Boo is 8 and is becoming very independently minded too! Some days it seems as if she would argue the grass purple if she could :)

    1. It would be so much easier if I could read her mind sometimes!!

  2. Sarah you are a sweetie... I don't know how you do it, keeping calm amidst the chaos and finding the blessings to!

    If it's any consolation I could've cheerfully registered Benedict with a school today!! I know he was frustrated with the weather and the fact that, we were down to use of one room downstairs as the other was having a floor fitted. Running alongside this was me feeling hormonal and no wonder there were grumpy faces all around!!

    Well done to you for completing the packing, is for the GP meet? Wherever you're going I hope you are blessed with really good weather.

    Love to you San xx

    1. I had a good cry, and phoned Martin to say, "I can't do it, I can't do it, I have no idea what to do!" (When he was working and couldn't talk long!) I think we're OK now. I really really want everything to go smoothly now so we can get to Camp GP.

      And if Jenna could be a little bit less like me, that would be awesome. :S

  3. Lol your own last comment there. None of my kids have been 'really' like me, but there is time yet. My Mum was in a car accident (not really hurt much), but it scared her so much she wouldn't allow my Dad to have a car (it was the 70s so a lot less people had them). Anyway, we were a family of 4 kids and two adults and I remember my Dad lugging what looked like the biggest suitcase in the world on and off trains. Once we went from Edinburgh to Yeovil (where my Aunt lived) and had to change trains 4 times lol. Us kids had a great time, but I expect my parents were totally frazzled haha.

    1. Somewhat reassuring, as we're meant to be going to Yeovil this month too... ;)

  4. John tops our car with water every morning and makes sure he has 2 five litre bottles of water in the boot at all times because we have a "slight" engine problem too. Luckily he knows a fair bit about cars and engines and stuff like that so assures us it will keep chugging along as long as he nurses it..... Unfortunately the car really isn't big enough for us so needs replacing, plus the cost of repairs would be more than the car is worth so we are hoping it keeps chugging until we have enough saved for something bigger and better. Bad enough that we had to shell out £120 for tax testerday for a car that is used only briefly...
    As for growing girls and rights and wrongs, I remember havig a whine online several years ago about how our 15 year old DD hated me, that she was so verbally and physically aggressive, and that I just couldn'tr live another day with her, and a very wise mama replied and offered me comfort. She told me that of course DD loved me, that she didn't mean what she said, that she was safely testing boundaries and all would right in the end.I think this mama even mentioned that she had gone through a similar pase with her own mother. Maybe I'll try find that email and forward it to you? Although it may well be lurking deeply in your sent item folder ;) wise mama that you remain xx

  5. *laughing and crying a little* Thank you!


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