Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Communicating with your Kid: Car Talk with Peter Pan

On my way to the office the other morning, the SUV beside me at the light caught my eye. They were probably dropping a kid at school and on the video screen was a Disney-like movie. I had to wonder, why do you need a movie during what is likely a short hop?

I don’t want to sound like one of those it wasn’t like this when we were kids and we survived emails, but seriously. Given how difficult it is to talk to kids of all ages, taking every opportunity to do so seems like a good idea to me. I don’t mean to sound smarmy and holier than thou. Perhaps these kind parents were starting out on a three hour ride with their four year old, but even so. When my kid was four and autovideo was not ubiquitous, we enjoyed that time for talking, observing, words games and the like.

One of the things I know I’ll miss when my now-teenager starts driving himself, is that captive time in the car. Although I don’t always have his undivided attention, I often have enough of it to allow for discussion of everything from girls to politics, an angry diatribe about teachers, a peek into the intrigues of his peers and loads of anecdotes about life in his world I’d never otherwise hear. Sometimes we talk about the music he’s listening to in the car. And, I’m not gonna lie, we entertain one another with stories about the people in the next car and those we pass on the street. It’s kind of like Mad Libs without the paper.

It really irks my son when he’s in the car with me and I’m on the phone. See, I think he likes that time as well, receiving my relatively undivided attention. Relatively. I do have to drive after all. Or watch him drive.

So I think this time is really useful. It may not be “quality time” in the typical sense, but it’s one-on-one time and it's good to grab every opportunity. After all, it’s not like Peter Pan; they do grow up, and fast.

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