Some of the best conversations I have with my kids take place in the car. Maybe because there’s no escape, maybe it’s because I threaten to listen to Car Talk unless we converse, but there it is. Today, I drove Dearest Son back to college, and we talked about the semester and the upcoming summer, potential jobs, friendship, dealing with stress, family members…the whole gamut.
I used to tell stories to the kids in the car back in the day—Mickey the Fire Engine; the badger who befriended a little boy; a sister and brother who found a secret underground city powered by the magic of a captive unicorn; that same pair joining a children’s army when all the adults disappeared; a Christmas Eve when a little girl and her brother get a special treat from Santa.
Uncomfortable conversations are great for the car, too, since the driver can’t maintain eye contact while the passenger dies a thousand deaths. We’d cover where babies come from. Where babies don’t come from. Where my babies came from. Both kids learned long ago to cringe and hunker down in the seats when I started a conversation with, “I’m bringing this up in the car so we don’t have to look at each other.”
When the kids were really little, we’d go see my in-laws and, at the end of the visit, put the little ones in their jammies and drive home in the dark. The Princess would watch the moon, delighted that it was following us. Dearest Son would fall asleep, usually holding her hand, and McIrish and I would listen to a baseball game and talk quietly. When we got home, we’d carry the kids inside and tuck them in bed, and they hardly ever woke up.
Those were happy times. But these are too, talking about the state of the country, the future, which states would be fun to live in. I drove back from Dearest’s college, missing him already, missing the Princess, who drove herself back today. But I’ll see them soon, and they live in my heart, no matter how far apart we are.