Conversations in the Car

Some of my favorite moments with hf are when we ride to and from school. There are times we ride silent; each wrapped up in their own thoughts or exhausted from long days. Most times, though, we have a mixture of silliness and singing along with the radio. I try hard to appreciate each moment because I know there will come a time when I’ll be making these drives on my own.

For the most part the near-daily treks, and subsequent conversations, are lighthearted. However, the educator in me doesn’t always allow teachable moments to pass by unrealized. Often I’ll manage to slip in a few bits of times tables, an observation on grammar or literature, or a life lesson that ties to her day or comments. I make it a rule, however, not to hound or press and let her guide.

This morning was one of those perfect rides that I’ll carry with me for a good while. We started off with lighthearted banter about how fun I am as a teacher (apparently I’m neither as fun as I think nor as cool as her teacher) and then fluctuated between general silliness and learning moments. It went something like this….

(Warning. Our conversations tend to abruptly change topics with little to know transitions.)

Hf: Mom. Those clouds look dark. You think it’ll rain?

Me: Mmmm, naw.

Hf: I predict it will.

Me: *teacher spidey-sense tingling at her use of “predict”* Yea? What’s your evidence?

Hf: My evidence is the color of the clouds. Before it storms clouds are dark. What do you predict?

Me: I predict that the wind will push those clouds right over us. My evidence is the scientific data that the meteorologist uses to make his weather report and this morning he said it’ll be a sunny weekend.

*Fast forward about five minutes and the weather report comes on the radio and states that it’ll be a sunny weekend.*

Me:*trying to subtly insert life lesson* You know what that tells me?

Hf: *pouting* Yea, you won.

Me: *trying not to laugh* There wasn’t a win/ lose. I was just thinking that that reminds me of that expression about not judging a book by its cover. The clouds looked scary, but were harmless. People can be that way. They can look scary and be super fun or look beautiful and be mean.

Hf: Do you think ____ is awake yet?

Me: I don’t know. Normal people sleep in as late as they can when they don’t have to go to work or school.

Hf: *hangs her head a bit & pokes out lower lip* I’m not normal.

Me: Hey. Who wants to be normal? Normal is overrated and boring. Think about it. Picture your favorite character, your princesses. Are they just like all the other characters in the story or do they stand out? Do they do what everyone else does or do they make their own choices?

Hf: They’re different.

Me: See! Normal does what everyone else does. That’s boring. No one would read a book or watch a movie about people who all did the same thing. Would you want to watch that?

Hf: No. No I wouldn’t. *smiles to herself while getting out her iPad and putting her headphones on.*

*Moment of silence then she does something and her cords get tangled. She grunts in frustration.*

Mom! My cords are all tangled!

Me: You should try hitting it with a skillet. *Laughs at self & subtle Tangled allusion.*

Hf: *rolls eyes* Ugh. You really aren’t funny, mom.

Our chats don’t usually flow so well, but when they do I spend most of the day in a mixture of emotions. My pleasure at the enjoyable conversations and humor at her observations and point-of-view (ok, and at my own hilarious jokes) is interspersed with a sadness at how quickly she’s growing up. While I revel in getting to know the person she is becoming I’m desperately clawing at the grains of sand and trying to slow them down as they gush through the hourglass.

The raw talks, and relatively few eye rolls, indicate to me that in these moments I’m doing something right. I hope that by spending that ride time focusing on her I show her the importance, and joy, of face-to-face conversations and that I’m laying a foundation so that later in life she’ll feel she can still talk to me.

What is something that you do (or did) with your kids that you particularly enjoyed or used as a way to ease a concern for their later years?




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