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The Goddess Speaks

Laurie Okawa Moore

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Singing stops
sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry can sometimes make the Middle East conflict look like a little hissy fit. And nothing is more stressful than being confined in a car with your two kids -- whom you've loved and nurtured from the time their screaming little heads popped into this world -- hurling threats at each other.

It's the dreaded "Car Wars."

As a working mom with kids at two different schools in different parts of town, commuting and the traffic it entails is a regular part of my day. "Car Wars" has made this part of my day about as enjoyable as root canal without the Novocain.

It starts innocently enough. "How was your day at school?" I'd ask my 6-year-old son Alex. Keep in mind that my son doesn't speak in sentences; he speaks in paragraphs -- sometimes without taking a breath. (It's a gift he inherited from his father.) So as Alex begins a lengthy monologue on the day's events, his 3-year-old sister Mikaela begins feeling left out. Of course, she handles this situation with such tact and diplomacy. (It's a gift she inherited from me.)


And then it begins. The yelling, the tears, the accusations of "He hit me!" and "She's touching my toys!" volley back and forth like a tennis match on Warp Speed.

Forget about road rage. The effects of "Car Wars" can drive a person to criminal acts. I've tried several "solutions" offered by friends, child-care experts, friends of child-care experts, strangers at the mall, and anyone willing to listen to my tale of woe.

One such method offered by an "expert" dictated that I pull over safely and park the car once the fighting began. Next, I'm supposed to calmly exit the car, lock the car, and stand next to the car with my back facing the kids. (Who are supposed to be securely strapped into their car seats.) I'm supposed to stand there until the fighting stops. My doing all of this is supposed to be so shocking to my kids that they wouldn't dare repeat their abhorrent behavior ever again.

Well, that was the theory, not the reality. And is there REALLY a safe place to pull over on the H-3 freeway when cars are passing you at the speed of light? I think not.

ONE AFTERNOON during a particularly nasty bout of bickering, I turned up the volume on the radio as much as possible without blowing out my windshield. It just so happened that "Hit the Road Jack" was playing.

Since this is one of my favorite songs, I began singing along at the top of my lungs. Now this stunned both kids into silence! But after the shock of mommy's Ray Charles impersonation wore off, they started singing along. Oh, they slaughtered the lyrics, but thought it was great fun.

Now our journey home includes several rounds of "Hit the Road Jack" with Alex singing the lead and Mikaela and I on backup vocals. There's something rather endearing about a 6-year-old boy singing, "Oh woman, oh woman don't ya treat me so mean. You're the meanest darn woman I ever did see ..."

My kids still bicker -- it's their job as siblings. But now I have an ace up my sleeve. As soon as things start to heat up behind me, I start belting out "Hit the Road Jack" and my kids immediately fall into line.

We end up singing until I'm hoarse. One day we may get so good at this, I'll have to take our act on the road -- as long as I don't have to drive. On second thought, we'll take separate cars.

Laurie Okawa Moore is communications officer at Hawaii Credit Union League. "The Goddess Speaks" is a Tuesday feature by and about women. If you have something to say, write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or e-mail

The Goddess Speaks is a Tuesday feature by and
about women. If you have something to say, write
"The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813;
or e-mail

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