Driving with ChildrenPosted: March 5, 2012
My son and I spend forty-five minutes together every day in a car. We live in a country home that we love, which happens to be forty-five minutes away from the preschool where I work and my son learns and plays. Every morning, my son sleeps the entire way, and who can blame him? The sun isn’t even awake when we leave in the morning! But in the late afternoon when we leave, he’s wide-awake and usually full of a whole day’s worth of activities, games, friends, or fights to talk about. When I leave work, it’s sometimes hard to switch over so quickly from teacher mode to mom mode. If it’s been a particularly difficult day (as Mondays often are… The babies miss the lovely weekend time they had with their mommies and daddies!) I envy my husband most days, who comes home from work to a quiet home, lets the dog outside, feeds the dog and cat, and then gets anywhere between half an hour to two hours of peace to himself before his serenity is bombarded by our five-year-old and myself coming through the door, yelling, “Daddy! We’re home!”
Don’t get me wrong, I do get plenty of “me” time. And if I ever need more of it, all I have to do is ask, and my husband obliges and will take our son outside to play while I watch the latest episode of Top Chef or Project Runway on our DVR. That being said, it’s nice when parents have the time to mentally make that switch, leaving all work-related stresses behind. But it isn’t always a possibility. And at the same time, how I spend those first forty-five minutes with my child can set the tone for the rest of the evening, so it’s important that I make the most of that time. Sometimes he has a lot that he wants to tell me, and I welcome that. There is nothing I love more than my son feeling free and able to open himself up to me and tell me all about his day, simply for the fact that I fear there may eventually come a time when he won’t want to tell me anything. Sometimes he asks a lot of questions. “What are we having for supper?” “Can we pick up McDonald’s?” “Do we need to go to the store?” “Is tonight a video game night?” “Can we play outside when we get home?” (Almost always a “Yes!” because a five-year-old boy really needs time to let his energy out!) Sometimes he wants to play a game. Our current favorite car games are coming up with rhyming words and “I Spy.” Both tend to pass the time pretty quickly. Sometimes he wants to play a game on my iPhone. Sometimes, if he didn’t take a nap in particular, he doesn’t want to talk, or play games, or ask questions. He wants to look quietly out the window, and he will eventually fall asleep. And that is okay with me. I try to respect the fact that, like adults, sometimes children have a hard day too, and they would rather not talk about it (yet. When he has a rare day like this, I always make it a point to bring it up sometime after we get home, usually during supper). Today, he was in a very talkative mood, and despite my less-than-chipper mood at first, we ended up talking the entire way home, about a game he wanted us to play together (and we did) when we got home that involved throwing his stuffed animals to see who could throw it the farthest. Then, we had a very interesting conversation that started with Beyblades and ended up in a discussion about a pegasus and a dragon, and Greek gods, and what a myth or a mythological creature is, and then a conversation about God and why we believe in Him as our Creator.
There are many ways you can spend the drive home with your young children, and I don’t think any of them are right or wrong, as long as we let them know that no matter what kind of day we have had at work, that we are happy to see them, and happy to be going home together.
What are some fun things that you like to do with your children in the car?