We leave the house in the morning as close to 8am as possible. Around 8:40 or so I pull into the school parking lot and drop off the first child. Then I turn around and take the other child 20 minutes in the other direction to get her to daycare by 9.
On weeks that M is out of town or busy I rush out of work at 5:15, dash to daycare to get the little one. I usually get there on the stroke of 5:30, throw her in the car and hurry the 30 minutes to get to C’s school before 6pm. Then we turn around and drive all the way home.
We rarely get there before 6:45.
If you do the math, on the days that M isn’t able to pick up one of the kids, I spend upward of two hours with them in the car. Considering I’m only with them for all of 3 or so waking hours during each week days, it goes without saying that I have to make the best of those car hours.
We sing. We dance. We tell jokes, jokes, and more jokes. We play rhyming games, name games, endless rounds of “I Spy.” And we talk.
There’s something about not being face to face, not being distracted by screens, people, or TV that allows us to cover a broad range of topics. We’ve covered magnetism and gravity. We’ve talked about why certain celebrities have to go to jail and what they did to get put into “grown-up time-out.” We’ve talked about authors and reading. We’ve talked about daddy’s job and how people heal. We’ve even talked about friendship, relationships, and the futility of road-rage.
I used to be endlessly annoyed about the amount of time I spent in the car with the kids. It used to bug me that I couldn’t be at home, making them healthy dinners, or playing games with them. I wanted to have a longer amount of time to cuddle and read before bed. I wanted to enjoy my kids better.
Now I realize that this car time is a gift of sorts. I’m 100% present with my kids and they’re a captive audience. While on the road we connect better than when we’re home and I’m running around doing chores. Instead of a hiatus in our day, our commute is actually an opportune moment for a little parenting. One I’m glad I get in the midst of our insane schedules.