Driving Like a Boss by Myna Chang

T-Rex dislikes my neighbor’s dog. It’s a vicious little yapper. T-Rex is afraid Neighbor-Dog will bite his foot.

Stop being a wimp, I say. Stomp that mutt.

Sometimes Neighbor-Dog chases my kid. 

Don’t let that yapping menace chase my kid, I say. Use those big dinosaur feet.

T-Rex would rather go water skiing.

Fine, I say. But I can’t drive the boat. There’s too much turbulence.

I’ll do it, T-Rex says. Vroom vroom.

The other skiers have each cut a deep wake, leaving the water crisscrossed with suburban machinations and zero-sum playdates. Their waves push us off course.

Driving sucks, T-Rex says. Let’s eat ice cream instead. It’ll settle our nerves.

T-Rex eats a lot of ice cream.

Stop it, I say. That won’t help. Let’s watch a movie.

T-Rex slurps another gob of frozen avoidance.

We need a change, I say. Pick a new movie. Something strong.

T-Rex wants to watch Bridget Jones’s Diary. Again.

Nope, I say. We’re gonna watch Die Hard this time.

T-Rex wants to argue. I throw away the dinosaur’s ice cream.

T-Rex is taken aback.

Yippee kiyay! I say. We can too drive this damn boat, as fast and loud as we want, right through that stupid parent-teacher conference.

This oughtta be good, T-Rex says.

Miss Judgmental Math Teacher does not think it’s good.She squints down her nose at us, but T-Rex and I are through being wimps. We rev our engine.

“And no, Miss Judgy-Pants,” I say, gaining momentum. “I wouldn’t care to keep my voice down. Nobody understands Common Core Math, so back off my kid.”

Drivin’ like a boss now, T-Rex says. We slice a new channel through the neighborhood, spraying backwash and brass at all our antagonizers as we slalom past.

My kid is taken aback.

“You yelled at my teacher,” he says.

“Yep,” I say.

That mean kid from the playground, too, T-Rex says.

“It was easy,” I say.

We kinda liked it, T-Rex says.

“Coach Pushy-Man didn’t much like it,” I say.

Yippee ki-yay! T-Rex says.

My kid flops on the floor like a spilled fish. “Your coping mechanism is ruining my life,” he says.

Pfft. As if I’m the only mom with a dinosaur in her boat.The mom across the street skis with a frickin’ velociraptor. Nobody messes with her kid. And I’m pretty sure that PTA tyrant has a megalodon swimming in her wake. She always gets her way.

“T-Rex is too loud,” my kid fish-flops.

“We’re being assertive,” I say.

“That’s not what my soccer coach called it,” he says.“Mom, the dinosaur has to go.”

I am taken aback.

“Go?” I say.

But we just figured out how to drive the boat.


The story behind the story:

My anxiety dreams often include a T-Rex. Sometimes I’m the dinosaur, stomping my way through life; other times, T-Rex is my reluctant partner in crime. In this story, I explore the stress of parenting in a hyper-competitive neighborhood where I do not fit in. I wanted to look more closely at the line between successfully advocating for my child, and becoming an overbearing bitch. The dinosaur helped me access and distill my thoughts, and nagged me when I wanted to nap instead of editing.  

Myna Chang’s work has been selected for Flash Fiction America (W.W. Norton), Best Small Fictions, and CRAFT, among others. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Writings Award in Flash Fiction, and she hosts the speculative fiction discussion group Electric Sheep. Her chapbook, The Potential of Radio and Rain, will be published by CutBank Books in 2023. Read more at MynaChang.com or @MynaChang.

“Driving Like a Boss” was first published in the Grace and Gravity: Furious Gravity anthology.

Header Photo by Anita Denunzio on Unsplash

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