For the most part, I think technology is a good
thing. However, like too many Oreos, too much technology can be too
much of a good thing. For example, I see more and more parents with
flickering DVD screens suspended from the roof of their SUVs. If
you're relying on SpongeBob to keep your kids quiet while toting
them from soccer to ballet, you're missing out on a little-known
secret: The car is where kids tell you all the dirt.
My car becomes part coffee klatch, part confessional as
soon as I start driving with my kids. The car is where I learn that
somebody said something mean to my youngest daughter at school and
what she did about it. (She says she walked away. I'll have to take
her word for it.) It's where I find out that my older daughter has
been worrying about something, or what she really thinks about her
teacher. Once I even found out who ate the last of the marshmallows
that I was saving for s'mores. (Sorry, I promised not to
And sometimes the car is where we get philosophical. My
kids and I have admired fields of cornflowers and discussed why war
exists. We've listened to all types of music, everything from
Ralph's World to Echo and the Bunnymen. We've traded knock-knock
jokes and discussed the state of the world.
These are the moments I cherish. Spontaneous "car talk" is
much more rewarding than asking a tired fourth-grader about school
that day and getting a one-word answer, or worse, no answer at all.
For my family, the car is a place where my kids are on the move,
the pressure is off, and they can let their thoughts and words
float freely. What could be better than that?
Just one caution: As my girls get older and the
discussions get more advanced, there is always the danger of Mom
driving onto the shoulder in sheer dismay.
So please be careful when you're driving behind me. I may
be getting an earful-but I wouldn't have it any other
Jenny Kales is a freelance writer and the author of The
Nut-Free Mom Blog: www.nut-freemom.com. She lives (and drives) with
her husband and two daughters in La Grange Park.
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