My kids and I, we spend a lot of time in the car. And because I live half of my life there, even the tiny Jeep that I drive around has become a second home on wheels. I’m prepared with water, entertainment books and movies, songs, games, seasonal tools, bug spray, extra napkins and straws, and a first aid kit that sadly doesn’t contain an ice pack.
This past summer I taught my kids one of the many subtle differences between growing up in the Cleveland ‘burbs and in Wayne County. There are obvious dialect differences, odor differences (“that’s just the pig farm down the road, no biggie”), and dozens of colloquial variances that always keep me on my toes.
The one that had the most attention this summer during our hours in the car was the infamous game of Punch Bug. Or Slug Bug. Or whatever you want to call it when you’re driving in the car and someone spots a Volkswagen Beetle and yells something and wallops you in the arm.
The thing is that I grew up saying “punch buggy!” and my husband yelled “slug bug!” and the two of us battle about which is correct. (We have also come to blows over what it’s called when you hurt your finger playing basketball, and just the very second almost got divorced over what you call a car with one headlight out.) Needless to say, our children think this multi-Ohioan-heritage gives them ample excuse to sucker punch each other, and me, multiple times whenever we pass a VW Beetle.
And because they were having so much fun looking out the window searching tirelessly for an excuse to beat up their siblings, I made the horrible mistake of making up a little game we call “Convertible.” Whenever someone spots a convertible with the top down, you have the opportunity to swipe the top of someone’s head as if the wind was blowing through your hair.
Except my kids don’t quite understand what it means to have wind blowing through your hair, so instead of a light tossle of one’s coiffure, this idiotic game of my own idiotic creation has become a karate chop to each other’s forehead. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of driving down the road on a warm day in late summer, admiring the way the bluest of skies plays against the fields of corn, windows cracked and lovely music playing and WHAMMO. There’s another stinking convertible and someone just hauled off your face.
After a couple of warm days, I’m surprised we aren’t walking around bruised.
So cheers to the end of summer, when the weather gets cooler and convertibles get stored semi-permanently in the upright position, when VW Beetles are potentially put away for the winter, and I can drive my children around peacefully without the fear of being beaten without an ice pack in sight.