I’m driving down the road, Baby Girl in the car seat behind me. We’re on our way from our house on a back country road to a meeting at the high school.
Baby Girl is old enough to ride facing forward, so I can glance at her in the rear-view mirror, which she commands frequently:
“Look, Mommy! Mommy, look a’ me!” And I look, and she’s making a face, or showing me the toy I’ve seen constantly since it became her favorite, or she’s covering her head with her blanket and I have to pretend she’s invisible.
I get my eyes back on the road just in time to see a little brown dog run out in front of me. I slam on the brakes and the engine dies.
Did you know that, when your engine dies, so does your power steering and your power brakes? Well, they do. They do in my car, at least.
The dog trots on, oblivious, while we slide across the gravel, up an incline and through a barbed-wire fence.
Baby Girl whoops and cackles, fan that she is of swoopy rides powered by Daddy Arms Airlines. The cows in the next field come over to investigate.
I’m okay. Baby Girl is okay. Two or three fence posts have gone to Jesus, but that’s about the extent of the damage.
The car starts and backs up with no disturbing noises. The meeting cannot be missed, so I back onto the road and go on.
When I get home, I call Paul, who owns the field I invaded.
“Was that you that done that? If I’d ‘a’ knowed that, I wouldn’t ‘a’ been fussing about it. I heard something, and then I seen them cows go over to see what it was happened. By the time I got over there, whoever wrecked the fence was gone, and I just fussed! But if I’d ‘a’ knowed it was you, I’d ‘a’ knowed you’d make it right.”
I was rather proud of that, and repeated it to my husband. “I may get a reputation around here as a fence-killer, but at least folks know I’m honorable and trustworthy.”
And, for months afterward, if anybody asked Baby Girl what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered, “I wanna be a fence-killer, like Mommy.”