Growing up, there were a few places you could
always find me. The trampoline, where I was free and strong all summer; the living room heating vent, where I huddled with a blanket and a book all winter. But, my very favorite
place was in my parents’ cars, where I was loved.
In the front seat of my dad’s car I cried on his shoulder when I
didn’t get a good part in the dance recital; he held me, told me he loved me
and really meant it. It was there I learned I loved Cat Stevens and that my dad
was cooler than any other dad because he sang AC/DC at the top of his lungs. It
was where he would ask me about my life and where I felt like it was okay to
tell him as we finished a greasy bag of Crazy Bread together before we arrived
home for dinner.
In the back seat of my mom’s car was where I was introduced to the Boxcar Children
on long rides to
California. It was where she quizzed me on spelling words as she rushed me to
dance class. In the front seat was where she attempted to talk to me about sex.
It was where she told me how disappointed she was that I would lie to her and
sneak out of the house and put myself in danger. It was where I felt like a
grown-up as we chatted about girls, boys, school, work, and the future. In her
front seat was where I changed from being her little girl to her friend.
In the back seat of my minivan is where my boys have sung my
favorite songs from childhood, where they have learned their ABC’s, where they
have mastered addition and the color of stoplights. It’s where they ask me
questions about God, about the world and nature; it’s where they listen to
really cheesy made up stories that they still can’t get enough of. It’s where
they yell at me to, “Turn it up!” and where they roll their eyes when I sing too
loudly to an old school song. It’s where they learn to share their space and
time with each other.
As I drive the everyday routine of carpools and baseball practice, almost
every car I see has a mom on a phone, a dad with an ear piece, and kids with
their own iSomething. The whole family is together but completely separate.
Because of our obsession with being entertained and occupied all the
time, I often wonder how many tears have been missed, how many conversations
never happen, how many joys have gone unshared because everyone is always so
busy doing the unimportant.
Families should bicker about what song to listen to; families should
be a little bored together every now and then; parents should still have to
sing to their kids or tell them a story to pass the time; families should look out the window at the world together; siblings should be forced to talk about what is going on every
once in awhile. Life is not always about getting what you want all the time,
for parents or for children. The path of least resistance rarely yields
In the car, a family is held hostage. Kids have to talk to their
parents. Without intrusive technology there is no escape from togetherness, and
during a time when it seems no one is ever going the same direction and individuals
often feel alone, parents should hold on to this one last sanctuary for as long
as they can.
I’m writing this as a reminder to myself. It is so easy for me to make
car time my phone time or turn a movie on sooner rather than later on a road
trip. But my kids are growing up way too fast and I don’t want to remove myself
from these moments. Some weeks, with everyone so busy, car time is really all
we have. I want my car to be one of their sacred places, just like it was for
me. I want conversations to be had and memories to be made in the back seat of
my minivan. So, I want to be better. For our family, car time will be a time to
unplug from electronics and plug into each other. If you choose to join me, I think we may all be surprised by the little
and maybe not so little people we get to know who have been riding in our
backseats all these years.
The majority of the article was taken from a piece I wrote for The Gilbert Republic years ago. I wanted to revisit it now because it seems with my kids in school and so many other activities our car time really is precious together time. I am far from perfect...but I'm trying.
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I Never Thought I Wanted Kids but I Was Born to be a Mother
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Why we are taking the FUN out of life
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