Not too long ago, I heard a friend share about making a driving error and receiving the one finger salute from the driver of a car nearby. Although she knew she’d been in the wrong, my friend was a little baffled by the reaction. I laughed to myself and thought back to a driving experience I had many years ago as a young mom.

My son was a toddler and I was a protective momma bear. Before I had had my son, it wasn’t unusual for me to pull up to a stop light and have some young man whistle or hoot his interest in me. I didn’t mind it much, but once I became a mother, I became intolerant to such primitive behaviors. (It’s funny how these are memories I now treasure, because the days of getting whistled at seem to have passed.) The whistling happened a couple of times while my son sat in his carseat, and I found it a little disturbing. Couldn’t they tell I was a mother?

One sunny afternoon with my son happily buckled into his car seat, I drove down the highway towards home. About five miles from our destination, a pickup truck began to drive parallel with my station wagon. I slowed down to let it pass, but instead of passing, it slowed down, too. So I sped up to make room for the other traffic, and when I did, the truck sped up, too. I began to get annoyed, and I assumed it was just another guy being flirtatious. Who flirts with a woman in a station wagon?

I was stubborn and didn’t want to give this person any special attention. I began to think about lifting that one finger gesture. The truck stayed constant by my side. In a moment of disgust, I flashed an angry look at the driver, only to see my pastor enthusiastically waving with a big smile on his face.

Although tempted from time to time, I have refrained from flipping the bird. On that day, I came to the conclusion that things aren’t always what they seem. And even if they are, little people become mimics, and this momma wasn’t going to teach that.