The car drive home

There’s a phenomenon that occurs in cars with kids after an outing.
Every time we have an outing – be it a day outing or an evening outing – on the way home, or on arrival in the house, something kicks off a massive fight between the kids.
We are at a stage now where we are pre-empting some kind of argument. Something that is going to turn this lovely family outing, into a massive shit storm.
It tends to start with a day in the park, or a dinner, or a movie, or a late Friday/Saturday night out with another family.
At this age, 13 and 11.5 the events themselves are pretty uneventful. The kids go off and do their own thing and the adults hang out. It’s actually a great age for parents to be able to relax fully without worrying.
“See you at the end of the day” is generally my goodbye to them. “Blood or break” I shout as they run away. Referring to the time I really only want to see them again. And they know there needs to be a lot of blood.
But something happens in the car on the way home.
A switch is turned on. Or off. Depending on how you look at it.
“What a lovely night that was. We had such a great time with you. That movie was awesome. Did you have a good time? Did you enjoy it?”
In unison “yes”.
“ok great. It’s 10pm – lets get home, shower and jump into bed. OK?”
“I don’t want to shower”
Mum – “you have to shower”
“I don’t want to shower”
“no arguing – you need to shower it’s been a hot day and you’ve been running around”
Dad quietly– “let’s get them to bed – if they don’t shower it’s fine”
“Get your foot off me“  I hear from the back seat
“my foot’s not on you”
“Well stop leaning on me”
“I’m not!”

Woah – what just happened?
“Boys it’s fine. Stay away from each other – don’t worry about the shower. Jump into bed”.
“you’re such a dick!”
“Hey don’t speak to your dad like that” says mum.
When did I get dragged into this.
“I was talking to Zak” says Max.
“Don’t speak to your brother like that” I say looking at my wife a little pissed that she thought he was referring to me.
Tensions are rising. I step on the accelerator. I’m monitoring my own levels. I don’t want to lose it – I just want to get home and get some space.
They are kicking the back of my chair. Voices are raising. My wife and I are looking straight ahead. My knuckles turning white from gripping the steering wheel.

They are now attacking each other
“you’ve got no friends”
“no one likes you”
“this person said this about you”
“that person said that”
“you’re such a retard”
“HEEEEEEYYYY!!!!” we both shout out together.
That’s enough. I won’t have either of you speak like that!”
“Apologise to each other”
“no fucking way!”
“woooah – right that’s it” I handbrake turn into my road. 100km an hour straight into my driveway
“both of you OUT! Upstairs. Into bed. NOOW!
“keep your voice down – neighbours” says my wife
“don’t tell me to keep my voice down” eyes wide
And we’re off.
How the hell did this happen.
We get into the house – everyone in a heightened state of consciousness. And not the Josh Wink preferred state.

They are running around. Everyone has lost it. Everyone screaming at each other. There are tears. Tantrums.
We finally get them down.
My wife and I no longer talking.
What the hell just happened.
We’ve gone from The Brady Bunch to The Soprano’s in 15 minutes.
I’m not sure.
But one thing is for sure.
I’m never going out again.