Is it really eating while driving, if what I’m eating is a homemade potato taquito?
Car eating bugs me – I link it to fast food, too busy schedules, food dribbled down my front and a car that smells like restaurant carpeting. I mean really, we can’t just sit at a table somewhere with a napkin and plate? To me, it’s worse than eating at a keyboard or walking around the mall with a sandwich – and those gross me out, too. So when I was gobbling my taquitos behind the steering wheel – at a stop light, from a plate, with a napkin – I tried to hide my shame by slouching down in my seat and drifting past the drivers next to me.
And then I snapped out of it. Because the truth is my family snacks, drinks and dribbles in our vehicle almost every day. And I’m prepared to defend it. One of the biggest challenges I have to feeding my family well is having enough time to do it. If I eat my lunch on my way to picking up my son from school, maybe I can take a few minutes at home to boil potatoes for taquitos, or get one other thing done that needs doing. And I’m not cranky from hunger when I pick up my kid. Well, maybe a little cranky but not from hunger.
We spend a lot of time in our car. We don’t live in a walkable community or on a farm. We drive to the grocery, to school, to the playground, to the farmer’s market. Eating can make those dull, repetitive trips so much more productive. And interesting. There’s nothing like a package of crackers and drink box for passing 15 minutes of stop-and-go traffic. Lately, I’ve been keeping wax lips and candy in the car to bribe/I mean reward my kids for not fighting on the way home. It’s always that last 10 minutes of a 25 or 30 minute trip where they go bananas. There are mints and gum (if there aren’t any left in the wrappers look on the floor) for real emergencies. And of course several days of coffee cups.
Many families I know like us, with kids involved in activities within a 20-mile radius from home, live out of their car in a similar way. We also keep brain "treats": game, books, building blocks, costume accessories, Bandaids, toy cars, dinosaurs, crayons, pens, window markers, notebooks, binoculars and balls. There’s back-up clothing. Lots of CDs (but no DVDs). We have one of those recorded-joke toys, too, but it needs new batteries. We talk. The kids make up songs about farting. Good times.
So my point to myself is that, we’re doing the best we can. It would be nice to walk or ride our bikes to the store, but at least we are spending time together. At least sometimes I am able to prepare homemade potato taquitos, and they are balanced on the steering wheel instead of a greasy sandwich.