I have always enjoyed driving my children. I have never been a Ninja Mom that had nannies shuttling kids to and from school or to appointments: call me a lunatic but I am happy driving unappreciative and needy children. I take pleasure in this uninterrupted time with my kids; whether when they were little babies making funny sounds, small children asking delicious questions or loud and demanding Mutant Ninja Teenagers. With teenagers I declare drive time – a Connection Free Zone: this means no calling, no texting and no emailing while we are together in the car. Lately lIttle MN Teenager has the hardest time following this Connection Free Zone Rule as she is an iPhone-a-holic and views her viral connectivity as vital to her survival. Her latest retorts when caught texting her friends or playing games on her iPhone in the car are: I’m checking my homework. I am reviewing my schedule! Right!!!
Truthfully whether it is a short early morning school commute, a trip to the orthodontist or a longer journey to a party across town on a Saturday night, drive time is important and a great opportunity to spend time with engaged MN Teenagers. My car is like a Cone of Silence where children open up and speak about their lives, their friends, their teachers and their thoughts. They are not hidden behind closed doors doing their homework and insulated in the Internet Connectivity Zone, they are present and I want to capture this precious time. My job is to listen and not rush to add my opinion or be judgmental.
Equally as fulfilling has been driving large bands of my MN Teenagers’ friends piled in my car.
They chat back and forth complaining, laughing, gossiping and simply sharing information and in this process, I listen and learn. Many times, the funny thing is that they communicate as if I am simply the chauffeur and not a parent in the car eliminating the typical teenage boundaries that normally inhibit them.
The other day, my oldest MN Daughter on break from college offered to drive her younger sister and friends to the Americana Lifestyle Mall. She was leaving in a few days and thought it would be an ideal bonding with her younger sister. When she arrived at the Americana she texted me,
Why did I volunteer to do this?
I texted back - Cuz next week when u r freezing in mass u will smile about it. (Please note my fine texting abbreviation skills)
She texted – But they won’t shut up about the most outrageous things and I’m essentially their chauffeur. Like nothing is addressed to me – lol.
I texted – Laughing like u cannot believe. I will pay for good gossip. xxx
She texted - I thought you’d like that. But actually so and so is going to Coachella but so and so isn’t bc she can’t afford it…..her parents will not let her…can you believe what she said…i would never do that…
I wanted to text her back: Maybe now you can appreciate the countless hours I spent driving you to friends’ houses at the other end of the world and the endless parties I picked you and your friends up from in the middle of the night. Do you remember how many bar and bat mitzvahs you attended in 7th and 8th grade?
How quickly time had passed: in a blink, older MN Daughter went from being the typical entitled Mutant Ninja Teenager being driver by her mother to the young woman who took on the role as unappreciated chauffeur of MN Teenagers.
This vignette causes me to reflect – as much as these endless drive times can be a pain in the ass with late hours, complicated directions and no appreciation – I would not exchange them for a minute! I learn a lot, I love spending this time with my children and it all passes so swiftly. It is precious time I can never have back.