The Traffic Jam

traffic jamTraveling home from a wonderful Florida vacation, our road trip came to a sudden standstill when a multi-car accident shut down our highway. With 3 kids strapped into the back seat and 10 hours of traveling ahead of us, this was NOT where I wanted to be.  The first hour passed relatively quickly with conversations about what could be wrong up ahead, stories of traffic jams that Mom and Dad had endured in the past and me watching the clock thinking that traffic will start moving again any minute.

By hour 2, the highway was a parking lot, the kids were freed from their car seats and the car turned into a miniature play area complete with Mr. Potato Head in one corner, Mulan playing on the DVD player in another and one kid sitting in the front seat pretending to drive.

Hours 3-6 were more of the same. Snacks were pulled from the cooler and more movies and games found their way out of their storage boxes.

The whole experience felt surreal and unbelievable.  Throughout the event, my husband and I had ups and downs of our own emotional state.  Sometimes we were frustrated and angry complaining about whoever was in charge of this cleanup and other times we were able to focus on the adventure and the great stories we would have to tell. At one point I turned to my family and said “If I have to be stuck in this traffic jam, at least I’m with you guys.”

As time went on, Jeff and I noticed that our kids attitudes seemed to mirror our emotions at any given moment. When we were grumpy and complaining about how long this was taking, our 4-year-old suddenly started complaining and acting grumpy as well. When we laughed and played and reminded ourselves that this could be worse, our 6-year-old chimed in with reminders that we had it better than others, “at least we have snacks and food!”. Our daughter even commented when we finally got moving again, “Is the traffic jam really done? That was fun!” (We think she simply enjoyed the freedom of being out of her car seat and the unlimited movie watching)

How do we react to the everyday negative moments of life?  Are we overly emotional, quick to blame others or argumentative about our circumstances? Or do we process what’s going on, look for the bright side and push through the moment.  Our crazy traffic jam gave me a chance to remember that our children are always watching and learning from our attitudes and actions.

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