Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Stopped Short

I was driving to the store today when the light suddenly turned yellow. Now, ordinarily, I take that as a sign to punch it carefully proceed through the intersection. This time, however, I opted to stop. I have no idea what possessed me to do so, but I slammed on the brakes as my arm involuntarily shot out to prevent my passenger from flying out the windshield. The only problem is that there was no passenger. And even if there had been a passenger, my arm doesn't even stretch far enough across my van to touch the passenger seat, let alone span the width of it. Oh yeah, and then there's the fact that I'm reasonably sure my outstretched arm wouldn't, in fact, protect my passenger from being ejected from the vehicle. I could be wrong, but I don't think there have been any cases where a mother's arm saved a passenger when a seat beat and airbag couldn't.

I can just see the whole scene going down at the hospital. "How's my passenger, Doctor?"

"Well, Mrs. Meehan, you prevented your passenger from flying through the window with your arm spasm which is good. But you karate chopped their head off which is really, umm, not good."

Why do I do this wild arm-flinging, and more importantly, is there any way to stop it? I mentioned this on Facebook today and had many people comment how they do this out of a habit that started back in the days when there were no car seats, or even seat belts. I can understand that. I remember, as a kid, just lying around in the back of our neon orange Pinto station wagon. I can see where the MomArm Seat Beat was necessary. In fact, I distinctly remember when gates were first installed at toll booths. My dad was scared the arm was going to come down and crush the car before he had the chance to drive through the toll, so he whipped the coins at the basket and gunned it like he'd just heard, "Gentlemen, start your engines." My sister and I were flung to the back of the car where we were plastered against the rear door, looking much like the bugs on the windshield. But my kids have always been in car seats, so what's my excuse?

On Facebook, it was 99% moms who admitted doing this. I don't know if it's because I only have a couple male friends on Facebook, or if guys simply don't do this. Maybe men think it's the passenger's job to hold on. Or perhaps, they just can't concentrate on both driving and saving their passenger from going airborne. Maybe moms just have more practice honing their puma-like reflexes by wrestling diapers on toddlers, catching cups of milk in midair as they're knocked off the table, and maneuvering over Legos and Barbie shoes like a cadet hopping through tires in an obstacle course.

I guess I'll have to resign myself to karate chopping anyone in the passenger seat whenever I have to stop quickly. It's just one of those mom things, like licking your finger to wipe dirt off your kid's face, or holding out your hand for your child to spit their gum into it.

52 comments:

Mom Taxi Julie said...

Or even better, putting your hands out to catch your kids vomit. We can't help it, we just do it.

DeeAnne said...

it is instinct.... and not limited to cars....

What do you do when one kid gets too close to the curb?


What about a random adult male?


yep... Been there.

Six-Pack Momma said...

C'mon...haven't you seen Blind Side? You could totally save your passenger!

Dawn said...

Uh no, Julie. I'm 100000% positive I've never caught my kids' barf. I run the other way when they throw up.

V1nce said...

A guy's reflex when stopping short is quickly hitting the passenger seat belt release and saying "See ya!"

Or maybe it's just me. Hmmm. I had TWO brothers once...

Kate Serra said...

lol i actually set my purse (and in college, my backpack) on my passenger seat, so if i don't flail my arm out, the purse goes flying and everything falls out... my husband looks at me like i'm crazy when he's riding and i whack him in the chest while doing the arm flail.

bearhugg said...

LMAO!! I've got to remember to put down the glass of whatever I'm drinking before I read your blog so it doesn't end up coming out my nose! 'karate chopped their head off'! LOL! Anyway, I was reading your FB post and I was going to dispute the moms claim to a monopoly on the protective arm extension and thought better of it. As they say, discretion is the better part of valor ;) For what it's worth, I do that religiously. I also couldn't help but think of Frank Costanza.. 'You stopped short with my wife!' I've got Seinfeld on the brain. That's twice in one week! :)

Debbie said...

As a Seinfeld fan, you know that at least one guy does it.... Frank Costanza! ;)

Dana of Oz said...

It's not just mom's that do it either. I don't have kids but do it with my full grown friends sitting in the passenger seat.

Nate B said...

I do that with my wife if I have to stop suddenly. I get it from my dad, who I'm sure got it from his dad, and so on down the line. I don't have kids, but I'm sure I'd do the same with them if I did. I've been known to do it without passengers, so don't feel to strange

Dawn said...

According to my friend, Don, guys do it just to cop a feel. I feel like warning his girlfriend, but I have a feeling she probably already knows.

Frau Mahlzahn said...

**** It's just one of those mom things, like licking your finger to wipe dirt off your kid's face

I've been tempted to do that one or the other time... (but am proud to say never have).

I remember my mom doing that arm thing and just automatically assumed that mom's do that. Since I hardly ever use the car, I found myself snapping out my arm when the...

...

...

...

tram stopped short, *ggg*.

Must be genes, I'm sure.

So long,
Corinna

Kimberly said...

I do that too. My kids just laugh at me. One day they'll do it too...and I can laugh back.

As Cape Cod Turns said...

"My dad was scared the arm was going to come down and crush the car before he had the chance to drive through the toll, so he whipped the coins at the basket and gunned it like he'd just heard, "Gentlemen, start your engines." My sister and I were flung to the back of the car where we were plastered against the rear door, looking much like the bugs on the windshield."

This had me laughing out loud!!! I do the arm fling too. Don't know why, just your average citizen trying to save lives, one front seat passenger at a time.

kimikki said...

Having witnessed an un-seatbelted two-year-old break a windshield with his head, I say keep doing the arm flail. And, dang it, buckle them up! As the slogan used to be, "Belt someone you love".

JeanM said...

I actually do this all the time. My hubby has had my arm flung out to stop him from flying forward countless times (then again if he had great life insurance on himself hmmmm). I think it is just instinct on our parts. Now barf NOPE I would never try to catch that!!!!!

Donna said...

I'm just liking that moms have "puma like" reflexes.....

Rebecca M. said...

I do the same thing all the time as well - no matter who is in my car! Just another one of those mom things! Kind of like the "baby sway" all moms do...you know, the slow rocking side to side whenever we hold a baby (even if it isn't ours!)

Kristin of course said...

It's all part of that Mom Reflex - I attribute it to the many times my arm flies out to stop a kid from running into the street or in the parking lots or into the burning stove. It's a Maternal Mom Thing because Dads think the kids should learn a lesson.

ELC said...

Really does seem like instinct, doesn't it? Mother Nature is amazing.

Jen@Scrapingirl said...

My hubby did that to me once. But I yelled at him, cuz I thought he was trying to grab my boob, not save my life. :)HA!!

Laura said...

I don't do it yet, because my kids are still too small for the front seat. But I have very vivid memories of my mother doing it to me--and me laughing at her. I'm sure some day the chickens will come home to roost regarding that.

Krys72599 said...

For the record, I haven't birthed any babies from these loins, and I do it.
And my husband does it, too (yes, a father of two now-adults) but he's karate-chopped me across the chest more than once!!!

Laura~peach~ said...

my husband nearly removed my left boob when someone pulled out in front of us not too long ago... and come to think of it my left boob has been nearly removed several times over the years by him... like the night the huge Buck ran out in front of us ... I did not get the word deer out of my mouth before CHOP! and CRASH we hit it.... so yes some men do have the chop down too well as BOTH time I did have my seaty belt on... lol I am a chopper too and usually have to laugh as my purse still goes flying to the floor ...

The Mommy said...

Guys definitely do this (and you're right probably to cop a feel) but when I was a new driver (ahem) I pulled out in front of some dude and he plowed into me. His knuckles on his right hand were bloodied because he flung out his arm in front of his girlfriend (who was the size of a small child). And then he wanted me to lie about who was driving because he wasn't insured. Moron. Of course, I was young and stupid so I did. Bigger moron.

Shari said...

Oh man this one had me laughing hard early this morning and now my family thinks I'm crazy LOL!!!

I totally remember my mom doing the arm band thing to me heck she still does it!!! I am guilty of doing it to my kids as well who are too small to sit in the front seat so as you can see I'm practicing.

That part about you and your sister is just too funny!!!!

Donna said...

I too do this all the time.
When the kids were little we didn't have seat belts so I thought that is why I threw my arm over. I do it even when I have my cat in a carrier. I do it with my purse, heck I do it when nothing is even on the passenger side.
But I am with you Dawn...never would I catch barf ! I seem to be the only one around here that cleans it up but I won't allow it in my hand.

Crazy Mom Tats! said...

Yup, it's Mom's gut instinct. All good moms do it.

Janice said...

Not just a mom thing. My husband does this, always has. I don't on the other hand, I just curse when my purse ends up on the floor with everything thrown out of it.

Sila Lumenn said...

Ohmygosh Julie! I totally caught my daughter's vomit in my hands when she was a baby. Every.Single.Time. LOL

Dawn, I snort-laughed all the way through this post because I'm an arm flinger from way back. My husband gets a bit peeved when I do it to him. He doesn't seem to understand this is mom instinct and there's nothing that can be done about it.

*hugs* from one arm flinger/finger licker/gum catcher to another.

~Tammy~ said...

wow, by the other comments, this one will seem so off topic... but is the car in your picture a right hand drive?

mommyrox said...

How awesome (car part). We had a red pinto wagon. I would lay in the back wagon part while my dad drove and heck, I turned out just fine. BTW I do the arm thing when there is no one in the car.
Yikes-I did just say I turned out fine huh? Oh well.

Autumn said...

My mom does this!! (Even though her children are 17, and 28!)

I believe it's from when I was small, because the rules for properly restraining kids, just were not there! I remember being my daughters age (5) and riding from Hilton Head to Savannah and back in the front seat. NO WAY IN HELL I would do that today! She's still in the back, and in 5 point harness carseat!

All that said...I only do this if I have things in the front seat that I don't want crashing down into the passenger floorboards of my van! My children have never ridden in the front seat (9, and 5) and when my husband does, I don't try to hold him in the seat...but I'm pretty sure there was at least one occasion that HE flung his arm out to stop ME. !!

Beth said...

LOL. My Mom did the arm thing and *sigh* I do it too. I have also wiped a kids face with a bit of spit. (Swore I'd never do that).
I have put out my hand for gum and stuff they chewed but didn't like.
Never ever have or will try to catch barf.

Ki Vick said...

I knew a guy who did this to his girlfriend once, and it snapped his elbow. Seriously. Be careful doing this. Your arm is not going to save anyone, inertia and body mass will win every time.

V1nce said...

The rule for catching barf is you have to fling it back at who did it. Same rule for those feces slinging monkeys at the zoo!

Jennifer said...

I don't have kids and I do this. I'm protecting my purse :-)

Jillybean said...

How else will we prevent or fries from flying all over the car?

Shoshanah said...

I don't have kids and I do this. I think it's because I normally have my purse on the passenger seat, and I'm trying to stop it from flying and spilling everywhere.

Robin said...

I'm guilty of that too. It's sort of embarrassing when you have an adult passenger... ; )

Vicki said...

I do the same thing for WHOEVER is sitting in the passenger seat... my kids, their friends, hubby, my mom, perfect stranger...doesn't matter. I'm pretty sure it is genetic and comes from the fact that when I was 18 months old, I was sitting on my mom's lap in the front passenger seat when my dad turned in front of another car. I went through the windshield on impact, my mom grabbed me by the ankle and hauled me back in before I went all the the way through. NEVER underestimate the puma-like reflexes of a momma!!

Jacqueline said...

My dad used to do this to me all the time when I was little. Back then I used to sit in the middle front seat, right next to the driver. I got whacked in the chest all the time! It's a good thing cars no longer have that seat.

Jennifer Magreevy said...

I think it is a reflex. frankly, my purse is typically on the passenger side seat, and I hate having to retrieve all the loose items that roam around the floorboards after my purse falls. So while my husband likes to think I'm being "soooo protective" of him, considering he's 6'2" and 210 pounds, I'm really just protecting my purse. OH, and sometimes he, in the passenger seat, will throw his arm out on ME as I'm throwing my arm to protect the phantom purse. So it works both ways. :)

Forty Pound Sack said...

Me, too! I do the arm thing ~ and I am not a mom. Maybe it's a genetic trait carried by the female chromosome?

Stressed Out said...

Too Funny - the first thing I thought of when you said it must not be a guy thing was the Seinfeld episode!

Just last week my 13-year old asked my why I did it to her and I told her it was an instinct. She pointed out the physics behind a crash and told me I'd never be able to save her life had it been a real accident. I told her "But, aren't you glad I would at least *try*?"

mema said...

I do the arm thing too and my youngest are 28! another thing I do is the "rock". You know, you may be carrying a bag (big brown paper bag) of gorceries, and you stop to talk to someone and all of a sudden you realize the bag is now being held on one of your hips and I am doing the "mom rock" back and forth so my gorceries don't start fussing and end my conversation before I am done! does anyone else do the "mom rock"? um, if not, please just ignore this reply.

Missi said...

I don't do the arm fling unless it is to save the stuff in the passenger seat from flying into the floorboard, like my purse, work bag & book.

To the people who mentioned wiping their kids dirty mouths. I did that once & learned real fast I didn't like it. So I'd I started telling my child to stick their tongue out & I'd get my thumb real "wet" & go to town cleaning their face w/ their own spit, lol.

Jessica said...

Bahahaha!
I do that too! I'm not sure why though bc both of my kids are in car seats in the back... I guess I'm preparing for when the oldest can sit in the front with me?!

Chas said...

I'm afraid I only reach to save whatever drink is in my cup holder- bad mom! But to be fair, neither one of my children are old enough to be in the front seat yet. On a side note, I'm a total germ-o-phobe. My kids lick their own fingers. AND if there isn't spare paper anywhere, they're chewing their gum until their jaw cramps shut. But they know that's the gum chewing risk, & they're OK with that.

Tiffany H. said...

my mom never did this, instead it was my dad. I'm 22 and he still does this if I ever go anywhere with him.

Bethany said...

I do that and I'm not even a mom. However, my dad didn't do it...but guys tend to keep a grip on the back of the passenger seat, I've noticed. I wonder why?

Mama Padawan said...

Can I tell you what I tell my kids when they get some imaginary pain on one of their limbs? "Just cut it off and it won't bother you any more, honey." :-D

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