Knock it off, or I’m pulling this car right over!

September 8, 2008

by Jen Bakken

Remember when our parents used to threaten us from the front seat of the family car?

“Knock it off, or I’m pulling this car right over!”

We’d be fighting with our siblings, hitting and annoying each other, whining complaints in our parents’ direction until they couldn’t take it anymore.

I can’t remember a specific time that my mother or father actually pulled the car off to the side of the road. I wonder if it was the fear of not knowing what would happen once the car was stopped that caused us start behaving?

For years, I have laughed remembering these empty threats, but maybe they weren’t such empty threats at all.

In fact, I think my parents were rather conniving in this circumstance.

You see, they knew that one day I’d have children who would utilize the back seat and make me crazy while I was driving.

Just like my siblings and I used to do, now my children can be heard from the back seat yelling or whining:


“She keeps touching me!”

“He keeps squashing me. Tell him to move over!”


“He won’t stop copying me!”

“She keeps staring at me. Tell her to stop!”


“She took that away from me!”

“He keeps looking out my window. Tell him to look out his own!”


“He hit me!”

“She keeps talking. Tell her to be quiet!”


“She started it!”

“He started it. Tell him to leave me alone!”

This is pretty much how last Sunday afternoon was for me while driving from Delano to my brother’s house in Dassel.

Before we even made it to Montrose, I was instructing my children to be quiet and get along. Up until this day, I had never actually threatened to pull over the car.

But, on this day, I did, and now my parents can rejoice in knowing they have gotten back at me through my own children. I’m sure they knew that one day this would happen.

After a few warnings, I finally yelled, “Knock it off, or I’m pulling this car right over!”

The mini van was dead silent as my children looked at each other, trying to decide what this threat meant.

I looked at them through the rear view mirror, hoping they wouldn’t call my bluff, because if they forced me to pull the car over, I had no idea what I would do.

We drove a couple miles without so much as a sound from any of us when I began hearing whispering. Next thing I knew, one of them yelled, “I’m telling!” followed by a loud, “OW!”

I immediately pulled the car over to the shoulder of the road and stopped. I looked straight ahead wondering what I was supposed to do or say at this point. I hadn’t planned things to get this far.

Darn kids, “why didn’t they just listen to me the first time,” I thought to myself. They were in the back seat completely quiet, looking back and forth at each other, unsure of what was going to happen next.

I’m not sure how long we were on the side of the road before one of them said, “Um, Mom what are you going to do, make us walk?”

I instructed big brother to move to the far back seat in the van and little sister to stay in the middle seat. They were told to look out their own windows, keep their hands to themselves, and not to utter a sound until we reached Dassel.

They must have been relieved I wasn’t making them walk and that this was their only punishment, because they were little angelic mice the rest of the trip.

Thank goodness for mini vans!