1. Always carry a flashlight in your vehicle. Lance tossed his “harvest bag” in the suburban yesterday, mostly because it had his sunflower seeds and gum in it, and it also happened to have a flashlight. Whew! Today’s “to-do” includes adding a flashlight to the glove box of the suburban.
2. Pull as far off of the road as possible while staying on as flat and solid a surface as possible. Changing a tire is not nearly as dangerous as getting hit by highway traffic while changing a tire.
3. Highway traffic does NOT slow down, nor do they change lanes to give the stranded vehicle a little space. (This one shocked me because it was very clear that we were a family vehicle, our two older kids were (safely!) out helping, and well… I know my husband would have stopped completely to ask if help was needed.) It was a little stressful watching semi-trailers (and other vehicles) zoom by at 70mph.
4. Keep your vehicle manual in the glove box and easily accessible at all times. We do so many things wrong, but this we do right. I’m sure my husband could have figured it out without me reading the instructions (I stopped reading halfway through) but this was the first time we had a flat on the suburban, and just getting to the tools and tire would have been tricky without the manual.
5. Keep small children secured in their car seat throughout the process. Even if they’re crying. Even if they want to see what’s going on. Even if they want to “help.” They are safer in the vehicle, and everyone is safer if they aren’t bouncing around in the vehicle. (Mr. 2 stayed put. He didn’t like it, but he did it anyway.)
6. Our middle child is growing up. At 5 years old (almost 6, mom!), she was not happy to be stuck in the suburban while the big kids got to help. There was some whining, but she also ended up giving her attention to the 2yo. The two of them told jokes and sang songs to pass the time. We were grateful, and were sure to tell her how much we appreciated it! (The snacks left over from the softball tournament didn’t hurt, either. )
7. Every moment is a teachable moment. We could have made the 7yo and 10yo stay in the sub also, but we found a nice (enough) gravel area to be off the road safely and they got out to help and learn. They held the flashlight, dug out the tools, and even loosened and tightened the lugnuts. All under dad’s close supervision, of course. They observed mom and dad working together to solve a problem, and saw how important it is to read instructions carefully and use those instructions to fix something.
8. Our children are incredible in stressful situations. We left the house at 6am yesterday morning for a softball tournament. The three middles were at grandma and grandpa’s all day. Miss 10 played 4 softball games in 20mph winds and 94° heat. Little 10months “watched” all day with us. It was a long, hot, windy, dirty day. We were 20 minutes from home and ready to fall into bed. I had just taken over the driving 5 miles ago because Lance was struggling to stay awake at the wheel. The kids handled everything so well, and did not add undue stress to a messy situation. I’m proud of them!
Also, the two big kids busted out in a VBS song while we were digging for tools, reminding us that God promised life on this earth would be hard, but that God has the Power. (They get it. They really, really do!)
9. My husband is a rock star. Seriously, folks. I’m so thankful to be married to that man for so many reasons. “He can change a tire on a highway at 10pm with the family ‘helping’ ” was never on my Man of God list before we married (I just got lucky there), but “Feeling safe with him at all times” was and I do. Also, if we were the ones zooming along the highway and saw another family stopped with their hazards on, I guarantee you we would have stopped right alongside them while he helped, or lent them a flashlight, or called for help on the cell phone, or something. Always do something.
10. God is good. And funny. “Well, that could have been much worse,” he said when we loaded up and hit the road for our final 20 miles. We heard the tell-tale “thwapthwapthwap” right away. The tire didn’t blow or affect my driving ability. We found a safe place to pull over on a busy highway. It wasn’t scorching hot or freezing cold. The wind was more tolerable than rain or snow would have been. We were on our way home and not running late for anything. The kids handled it well. We work together well. We are blessed.
Also, we laughed because we had packed clothes for the possibility of spending the night at my parents’ place if the ballgames ran late. We knew we wouldn’t want to “drive home at 11pm” after leaving the house at 6 am. After changing the tire and hopping on the road again, our clock read 11:06. Oh my.