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Mother Trucker
By Wendi Aarons

It's not like I planned on risking my life that day. We were at the Houston Grand Prix, on a weekend trip with our friends the Ogdens. Everything was going great. True, we were in a scorching hot parking lot watching deafeningly loud cars zoom by at perilous speeds, but I was actually feeling a little Zen. After all, the only danger I thought I might face was possibly running out of hand sanitizer in the unisex Porta-John. And even that wasn't too worrisome since I'd long ago taught myself how to open restroom doors with my wrists.

We were there because my husband loves race cars. Specifically, the American Le Mans series cars, which means Porsches, Lamborghinis and other European machines sold at dealerships that don't have giant, inflated gorillas on their roofs. For that reason alone, the Houston Grand Prix is a bit more refined than most NASCAR races. Nobody blasts Lynard Skynard, or wears bikini tops made from empty Skoal tins. Hardly anyone's shirtless. And the race car drivers have names like Jacques and Guy, not Stumpy and Rascal. But basically, it's the same drill: you sweat, gnaw on a turkey leg, sweat some more, then go home four hours later with a stomachache, a sunburn and a 10% permanent hearing loss in both ears. Good times.

My husband and I, the Ogdens, and both sets of our two sons under the age of six, spent a few enjoyable hours watching the race, visiting the various vendor booths and making unsuccessful attempts to stay away from the $7 a bottle Miller Beer stands and the trashy hoes giving away Pennzoil stickers. (I guess I shouldn't call those women "hoes." I never actually saw money change hands.) Happy the day was almost over, I was already fantasizing about what I was going to do to our hotel room's naughty minibar, when we turned the corner and entered the "Kid's Area." And that's when things started to get dicey.

I've been friends with Sarah Ogden for a long time. She is a very lovely, very refined woman. A composed woman. A gentle woman. A woman who, I now know, completely loses her shit around big ass monster trucks. Mere seconds after spotting the neon orange "Major Thrust" truck of death in all its 10-foot high glory, Sarah slammed her beer bottle to the ground, hysterically screamed "OHMYGODAMONSTERTRUCK!" and maniacally charged across the parking lot in her high-heeled wedge sandals, dragging all four boys behind her. By the time I closed my dropped jaw and squeaked out "What the..?," she had already paid for their tickets, scaled the two-story ladder into "Major Thrust," and had herself and all four boys strapped into the rickety bucket seats in the truck's bed. I looked around and hoped an Army recruiter hadn't seen her in action.

I knew something had to be done, but because both husbands had wandered off to the Catfish on a Stick booth, it was unfortunately up to me to do it. I immediately stormed over to the truck, determined to rescue my kids from what I was sure would soon turn into the headline: "Tragedy Struck in Houston Today." There was just no way I was going to let them do something this dangerous. I don't even let them eat non-organic dairy products. I mean, isn't real life scary enough without adding in things like skydiving and bungee jumping? Besides, if I wanted to experience a death-defying thrill, all I'd have to do is go to the day-after-Christmas sale at Ross Dress For Less. That's risky.

Standing in the considerable shadow of "Major Thrust", I started to yell up to my boys that they needed to come down right this instant. And then, I stopped. I saw their happy little faces peering at me from skyscraper level and realized that maybe I was being too overprotective. Maybe I was actually being a bad mother by pushing my irrational fears onto them in an effort to keep them safe. They were just having fun with their friends, after all. So had the time come to stretch the apron strings a little further? Like 10 feet further? I stood there in turmoil, my mind grappling with this major life issue, until the owner of the truck said the poignant words my own parents had taught me to always heed: "Get in. You can ride for free." I took a deep breath and started climbing.

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