A few weeks ago my friend Karen posted on Facebook that despite the craziness of running her two boys from one sport/activity to another, she knows there will come a time that she will miss that scheduling insanity.
When I read her comment, my initial response was OH HELL NO! I won’t miss that. I mean really, the constant schedule shuffling, eating on the run while trying to break any number of land speed records to be in as many places as possible with little time to get there. Several days a week I trek a 35 mile one way trip from work to pick up my son to drop him at swim practice, drive twenty minutes back the other way to pick up my daughter to drop her off at karate and then drive the twenty minutes back to pick up the swimmer and then dash back to pick up the almost black belt with seconds to spare. We’d finally, maybe, eat dinner around eight, and I’d fall asleep on the couch by ten. Those commutes are exhausting. Miss that? Not a chance.
And then I thought about it. She’s right.
In that hectic to and fro schedule, you grab quality time with your kids where you can get it. Even if it’s in a car going 65 mph.
It occurs to me that some of the best, and most interesting conversations, I’ve had with my kids have been in the car, on our way from one place to another.
It’s usually in the car, in between texts with their friends, that I get a completely relaxed rundown of their day. The topics bounce and grow from moment to moment These car rides provide an opportunity for me to hear them, unfiltered, as they randomly share jokes, snippets of daily life outside of home, and the discussions are usually relaxed and organic, so no topic is off limits. Music, current events, fashion, girls, boys, teachers, injustices and funny shit they found on the Internet. I’m grateful my kids know they can share these things with me and are willing to do so. I have friends that are in constant battle with their teens and the communication paths are choked.
With the little kids sometimes it’s difficult to get them to shut up for JUST A FEW MINUTES FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! but the breed known as teenagers are often reticent as hell because they think we don’t know anything at all. Despite that lack of respect for my vast experience, I don’t take for granted the access my kids give me to the details of their lives. I cherish it and enjoy those car rides probably more than they do and will miss those moments tucked away in the confines of my car, listening to my children’s voices ebb and flow with conversation around me.
Our son begins his mandatory six hours of instructional driving next week and his safety will be in the hands of a stranger as he takes yet another step toward independence. As with most teenage boys, driving is ever present on his mind and he’s been nagging us to get this scheduled for weeks now. I think I’ve been delaying because you know, CARS! THOSE CRAZY OTHER DRIVERS! MAH BABY!!!
This week we went car shopping for this boy. By the time the leaves turn on the trees, he’ll be driving himself to most places, happily leaving his parents home as he travels his own roads. The opportunity to drive him to wherever and have his attention to myself for an hour lessens with every tick of the clock and signing those papers for the vehicle that will let him drive further away felt like a physical punch to the chest. My breath caught, my heart stuttered and images of my little boy flashed like fire through my brain. Wait, how did we get here? I’m not ready for that angel faced toddler to drive away.
I can only hope that he drives back just as often as he drives away. In the meantime, I’ll absorb those moments with him as we drive back and forth to this thing or another and hold them precious in my heart.