|River Trail bridge in Little Rock, AR|
Background on this post: I didn't get a cell phone till I was 34. In fact, I was pretty anti-cell phone before that. Full disclosure - I am a phone junkie. If there is one nearby, I'm probably on it. I knew if I had a cell phone, I'd never talk to my kids in the car again! Looking back, I'm grateful I didn't have one. Today, I try to be conscious of using the phone when they are in the car, especially when they first get in the car, like after school or a party.
Some of our most important conversations have taken place in the car. Everyone is buckled in and trapped. It's a captive audience and I try to be one as well when they are talking. It's where we talk about what happens at school, in the halls, recess, and how they feel about those things. Lots of tears are shed in the car. Lots of thoughts and feelings shared. But it's also where a lot of laughter takes place.
I don't know what it is about the car. You aren't necessarily looking each other in the eye, but often out the window. It's easier to talk that way, sometimes.
I have learned something important over the years too -- kids talk about their day right after it happens, as they leave the building. I don't know if they rode the bus if I'd hear as much as I do. Now that my son drives, I rarely hear about his day. By the time he gets home, he's on to other things.
On our drive this week, we had a wonderful conversation in the car with those that weren't plugged in to a device - literally. I asked everyone about their thoughts and feelings about July 4th, which day we happen to be driving. It was a great opportunity to not only share our feelings about the day (I don't think we would have on a normal 4th), but also to hear their thoughts.
I've learned that it's easier, not only for the kids, but often for me, to express my thoughts and feelings in the car while driving. The key to to unplug and take advantage of the situation, even if it's only for 5 minutes here and there. I notice that most of the parents are on the phone when their kids get in the car after school. They are missing an awesome opportunity for communication - one that may not happen as the day continues. I've missed my fair share, for sure, and it's a very conscious effort to be off the phone when I'm in the car with my kids.
The experience this week reminded me of the importance of car rides and car conversations. From Indiana, happy driving!