On the Road Again

. June 26, 2014.

Mom’s Taxi makes the rounds in Findlay nearly every day.

School, ballet and karate make up most of the stops – places my van could find on its own by now. Whether it’s dropping off or picking up, my kids and I spend a fair amount of time in the van. One Mother’s Day I even received a “Mom’s Taxi” keychain that still hangs off my rear view mirror.

Mom’s Taxi might not cost them anything, but the fare is far from free. The cost to enter is unsolicited advice, probing questions and hopefully some sharing. In Mom’s Taxi, I’ve got them where I want them – trapped and talking.

My kids tell me, at home, in very basic terms, about their day at school, but it’s in the van where I hear the details. When they were younger it was about whose card got moved to yellow, why they had to stay inside for recess when it rained and whether lunch was edible. These days it might be who posted what on Instagram, why  “Divergent” is an awesome book and whether 16 is old enough for a driver’s license (no).

When my oldest was a toddler, I took her grocery shopping one day and she just wouldn’t stop talking. I offered her a dollar if she’d be quiet for five minutes. She declined. Her reason? “But Mommy, I like to talk.” Little did I know that, as a teenager, there would be times I would gladly pay her a dollar to talk as much as she wanted.

I want to hear what is going on in their lives, and something about riding in the van is magic. Whether in the seat beside me or from the back seat, we often become a mobile talk show. The subjects including basics like school and activities, but we’ve also veered into the serious and the silly. The Holocaust, choosing a college, Sherman’s march on Atlanta, the future first apartment, trigonometry and baseball are only a few of the varied subjects that we’ve talked about.

One of the best decisions we’ve made as a family is to ditch the electronics as much as possible on long car rides. When they were smaller I was grateful for a dvd player that kept them occupied. One day the dvd player stopped working when we had a trip planned. The results were surprising. When they weren’t sleeping, they were talking to us. We told jokes, stories and played games. These days we do use some electronics on longer trips, but very often they put them away on their own, opting instead for a round of corny jokes.

I am lucky because my kids share more with me than other parents learn from their teens and preteens. They are greeted with three questions when they get off the bus: What homework do you have? Did you forget anything? Is there anything I need to see or sign? Somewhere in there I usually hear the short version of their day.

It’s in the van, however, where I hear the good stuff. We talk about school, but also what is going on in their lives. Those topics are wonderful insights into who they are and who they are becoming. I am constantly reminded that while I love my kids, I also like them as people.

Mom’s Taxi gets them where they are going. But It also shows me who they are becoming.