Life and Living, Other Stuff

On mountains, mothering and driving lessons.

(Post written yesterday, 13.04.2021)

This is called stream of consciousness I believe. A device used by Virginia Woolf and others if I’m correct (but if I pursue this line of thought I’ll be even more distracted and won’t get on with my day. Apologies if incorrect.)

But here. Picture the scene. (I’ll help by providing some real live pics. Not filtered, edited, cropped, photoshopped whatever)

We’re driving in a little car on our way to school. I’m a passenger in the front. The driver? My daughter. It’s 6:45am. Five minutes later than we should have left. We’ve just turned the first corner and there’s a bird standing dead still in the road. I think she’s going to kill it.

‘The bird!’ I shout. ‘Ah, here we go’ she says quietly. I resolve to shut up. Open the window. The bird flies away at the very last second.

Driver’s license test now drawing closer (next Monday) and haven’t been doing enough driving with daughter. Confession: I’m not the most patient driving instructor. Left it to driving instructor to whom we have paid substantial sums and often question if too much but it seems as though she is the expert and will get her through the test and I so badly would like her to be making her own way to school. With younger sibling as passenger. I’ve been driving to school for so many years now that if I calculate the hours, I’m damn sure I would have reached the Malcolm Gladwell 10 000 hours mark. For sure. No time to bother about maths. I’m not good at maths, but four children, long way away from school. No buses or public transport. No railway line.  Government school. Great school. I love it. (We pass the fancy private school bus every morning- right next to the school we go to).

The car is tiny, like a little bubble. I’m used to my big tractor which carries 7 passengers and is high and has a tow bar and big bumpers and torn seats from dogs and tons of usage. But I’m trying to enjoy the ride. It’s kind of fun. I rest my arm on the narrow little armrest, hold onto the handle and feel the window and door. So flimsy and thin. (But we were assured that it has 7 airbags.) It reminded me of that little blue train we used to take the kids on at Green Point. Is it still there? So cute. I loved those days of sitting in a miniature train, going through the tunnel, seeing the sea on the one side and then waving furiously at their father who stood waiting on the platform for our R10 ride.

Okay.

We reach the top of road. The hectic place that joins Rhodes Drive just next to Cecelia Forest. We have to turn right to join the traffic.  Cars come whizzing around that corner from both the left and the right. It’s the perfect place to stall. The MOST stressful bloody intersection. There’s a gap on the left . And on the right.

A car hoots from behind.  Another one.

‘Go, Go! I shout.’ Suddenly there’s a car coming from the right and it’s going too fast.

‘You must DRIVE!’ I say to my matriculant sitting in the driver’s seat, her braided blazer making me so proud. Her sister has her earphones on in the backseat.  She’s reading a book. I love that she reads so much these days though I’m never quite sure whether this particular book she’s reading is aimed at 16 year-olds. She says the main character’s quite depressed but it’s really funny. I love the way she sings too. And she’s a damn good runner. (I’m so damn proud of my kids. All of them.  You get this part huh?)

We’re driving. Traffic is building up behind us. We’re coming around Kirstenbosch. ‘This person’s driving so close to me’ she says a minute before a huge dark bloody 4×4 Porsche overtakes us on the flipping bend, across the solid white line. ‘Bloody idiot in her flipping huge car’ I shout. ‘Where’s she going in such a bloody hurry?’

I open the window for some fresh air.

‘Please close the window,’ says sibling from the back. ‘It’s blowing right into my face’.

I’m scanning the mountain. It’s stunning the light on the mountain at this time of day. Distinctly pinkish. Clean air. I say so to them both. Neither of them are listening.

We get to the robot. The driver ( my 18 year old, with a little pony tail) checks right, left, hand on handbrake, foot at the ready, checks rearview, checks right, left and we cross over the highway.

‘It’s all these bloody checks’ I say to her. ‘No-one drives like this! Once you’ve passed you don’t need to pull the damn handbrake up every two minutes.’ (I’m thinking, why don’t they teach her to change the tyre? What will she do if gets a flat, comes across an unexpected obstacle, hits a cyclist, someone smashes their hand through the window and steals her phone!? This happened to my niece recently- flipping traumatic)

I decide to pick up my phone. Take my first pic of the mountain to distract myself. It’s blurry I know. I’m a little stressed. Not quite at peace.

Not a great pic but look at the mountain!

I’m now wondering whether I’m feeling less panicked in this car or when I found myself halfway up that beautiful mountain on Sunday. On Spilhaus Ravine on a thin ledge. I thought we’d go for a lovely ‘fun scramble’ but I can tell you it was the most hair raising hike I’ve done ever! And I’ve done a quite LOT of hiking in the last 3 years. It was truly insane! There was a point at which I truly thought I would DIE from nerves. The drop off behind me, the uncertainty of where to hold on, wondering if my right fingers on one barely grabbable indentation in the hard rock on my right and my left toes somewhere down to me left had enough grip to hold the weight of the rest of me while I hauled myself up with my left hand and put my left foot …where exactly??  Jeepers I hugged the mountain like a blooming parasite. Oh my flip! It was crazy. Here’re some pics or you won’t believe me!

The actual path! I googled it when I got home
Ja, there’s me behind the one with MUCH longer legs! Check the width of the path we’re on, the depth below and the patterned clouds! And here I’m still smiling!
Ja, I was right behind her wondering how I was going to get to up there which looked like a climb into the bloody clouds!

We’re still driving.

Round the circle. ‘It’s their right of way babes!’, I shout where I think she’s not quite going to stop at the yield.

Oy vey. (Even my vague Yiddisms have emerged.)  

Is she going to pass her test I wonder? I so badly want her to be driving to school. I so badly DON’T want her to be driving to school. On these roads. The bloody taxis, cyclists, oh my gosh, careful the squirrel! ‘Babes,’ I say quietly, ‘you must rather concentrate on the traffic. Assume everyone’s an idiot. Don’t worry about the gears, it doesn’t matter if you drive in third gear the whole way to school!’

We were chatting amongst friends on Sat night about how the driving centers ( in Cape Town) just FAIL you for the slightest thing! They make our poor learners so nervous and anxious I’m almost convinced it works on a quota system. (On the John Maythem Cape Talk show the other day, he was talking about how RUDE these people are. Was interviewing someone from Traffic Dept about the public perception of them all). The instructors of course will tell you you MUST just pay for another five hundred and forty thousand lessons because they’re the ones that have our children’s fate in their hands and making a killing with all these lessons!! You think if I sneaked them an extra note or two it will help? Corruption, crime is RIFE in this country. Why should I not play the game?  ( I smirked too at the story of one of the men on our hike about how much LIFTING he had to do when his wife went away for two weeks!! And how he actually reprimanded a friend when he’d (the friend) complained about all the little dings and bumps on his wife’s car for all the driving she’d done . Of COURSE her car will get the odd ding, he admonished. Have YOU done the school lifts for two weeks, he asked quite chuffed with himself. Yeah yeah. )

Well, I’ve done them for 100000222222222 weeks.

We stop at the big intersection in Claremont. Nudged our way in front of a huge Prado behind us (not realising that actually there was traffic in front of him but now we were incorrectly in a left only turn) But we’re safe! And I have a great view of the mountain from here. It’s still that pinkish hue. I love it.

Look at our mountain, people !

We’re passing the Newlands stadium. There’s a cyclist on our left. A huge truck in her way- they’re building there after demolishing the stadium. It hurts my heart to see such stuff.

‘Careful! She’s going to have to come into your lane!’

She slows and lets the cyclist into our lane briefly as she passes the trucks.

Oh my word. We made it. A few more robots. Now only 280000000 cars ahead of us at a standstill trying to turn left and into the school gates. Told you my maths was no good.

A beautiful school stares at me.

What an impressive entrance, don’t you think?

We stop. Here’s a bonus: I have to get out of the car to get around to the driver’s seat and am able to give them both a HUGE hug as they leave for the day. Don’t always do that when I’m driving. Promised to be doing more of it.          

Take a pic of the sign. And of my two younger daughters as they head off with bags, bags, bags, so heavy there is not a chance I could carry them around all day. Can barely pick them up. But no more lockers. Covid regulations. Masked and ready for the day.

Difficult to see words of sign underneath the morning sky in shadow of towering pines . It reads: Integrity, Acceptance, Respect, Kindness

I start the car, open the windows and head home. Try to take pics of the mountain as I drive. Not advisable. Finally stop on side of highway. How stunning is this mountain I think to myself? How lucky am I to drive next to this each day? (I’m reminding myself of an article I read about looking and observing and taking in the mountain as you head into town traffic every day. When you think driving in traffic is hell. )

I took some pics and eventually edged my way back into the traffic. (Tired of sharing more pics here but I think you know what it looks like by now)

And for the rest of the drive, wondered if I displayed any of these things:

INTEGRITY

RESPECT

ACCEPTANCE

KINDNESS

(End to post: 14.04.2021.)

Today was different. It’s late school day. Wednesday. Yay. At 6:45 we were dipping into the sea at St James, watching the sun rise through the cracks in the mountain. It’s my private heaven.

PS. I also drove to school after the swim. It’s faster. Less stressful. And she needs to put her school uniform on anyway.

PPS. The pic here is after our swim. Sadly, as much as I want to take a pic each time before our swim, during the swim, after the swim ( ‘oh, stop with the pics mum!’) I also don’t want to leave my phone on the beach. The other day at Dalebrook in broad daylight some poor swimmers came out the water to find their stuff and car had been taken.)

St James just after our sunrise swim. Little to beat.

Til next time!

xxx

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