Melissa Fell Down

The tire tracks on our lawn created by first-time driver Melissa!

Back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the planet, when visions of iPhones had not yet materialized in the mind of Steve Jobs, members of the general population were forced to capture the daily antics of their children on huge, bulky, complicated video cameras that even my husband Bob, a former TV director, had trouble operating.

Yet there he stood, camera in hand, in the middle of the sidewalk in front of our tiny townhouse in a suburban New Jersey town called Hillsborough. The subject of his attempt at an award-winning documentary? My daughter Melissa, 3 years old at the time (now 16), who would be attempting her first ride on her new tricycle.

My mother-in-law Pearl, enjoying an extended family vacation away from her North Carolina home, watched proudly from the sidelines as Melissa (with help from mommy) mounted the trike.  My little cherub placed her feet on the pedals and began her slow journey along the sidewalk.  All went well until it came time for "The Turn"!  Yes. The "treacherous" turn from the sidewalk onto the short path that led to our front door.  I suppose that Melissa, lacking the well honed skills of a seasoned tricycle rider, misjudged her approach. Turning the wheel too far to the right, gravity took over and my baby landed face down on the sidewalk.

Much to my chagrin, instead of helping, Bob continued filming Melissa as she lay there, waiting for her mommy to pick her up and make everything all better.  Fortunately, we found minimal damage on my offspring or on her bike, so we continued our carefree afternoon of pedal pushing down the pavement.

All was well.  That is...until later that evening when we snuggled onto the couch in our cozy living room and popped the video into the VCR (a rudimentary machine used to watch moving images).  The events of the afternoon filled the screen.  A smiling Melissa, waving proudly as she tackled her first bike ride.  Then came the "tragedy" of the misjudged right turn, a quick image of my horror-filled gasp, and the camera panning to a tight shot of Melissa face down on the sidewalk.

Bob, Pearl, and I turned our attention from the Melissa on the TV screen to the Melissa who sat cuddled next to us on the couch.  The twinkle in her big brown eyes had all but disappeared, and her mouth had formed that distinctive pout that signaled the start of her tears.

She pointed to the TV screen and cried out in anguish.....


I instinctively embraced my baby, assuring her that everything was just A-OK. That's when I heard the noise.

Uncontrollable giggles.

Yes. Fits of roaring, uncontrollable giggles coming from Grandma Pearl.

Realizing that her beloved grandmother was laughing at her, Melissa cried even harder.


To this day, my mother-in-law still roars with laughter when we retell the tale of Melissa's inability to make a right turn. In fact, that inability is still a cause for laughter!

Last Monday, my "baby" experienced another milestone in her young life, her first driving lesson!  I waited with anticipation by my office phone, anxious for details of her inaugural trip behind the wheel.  As soon as I heard her voice, I knew all had not gone according to plan.

"How was it?" I asked with excitement.

"Horrible," came her morose reply.

"Oh no," I exclaimed. "What happened?"

"Well mom, let's just say there are tire tracks across our front lawn."

With a tremendous amount of difficulty, I stifled a giggle, knowing that my laughter would not help comfort my daughter, who was already close to tears.  She went on to explain how, lacking the skills of a seasoned driver, she misjudged her approach to the driveway.  That, coupled with the instructor's stern demeanor and lack of clear instruction caused her to panic.  As a result she hit the accelerator a bit too hard.

She feared her mom and dad would either be angry or find the incident extremely funny. And quite frankly, she didn't know which reaction would be worse.

Privately, Bob and I did find it funny.  We bent over double with laughter!  In time, Melissa laughed too, as she took Steve Jobs' trusted invention out of the pocket of her jeans and snapped everlasting evidence of her first time driving a car.

Much like her first time riding a tricycle, I'm sure we'll be laughing for years to come!

Lisa Weinstein is a South Jersey mom who blogs about parenting a teen, coping with middle age and celebrating nearly two decades of marriage. This post was adapted from her blog, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein.

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