Every morning, I take my kids to school, like parents everywhere. After a rushed hour of breakfasts and showers and “where are my shoes?” and “we’re out of milk—have toast!” and making lunches and despite our best efforts of preparing as much as we could the night before, that hour is always hectic. Even more hectic than the hour after they get home and we’re doing it all in reverse while getting ready for dinner, homework and extracurricular activities while the kids are bursting from the excitement (or, sometimes, the lack thereof) in their day. It’s a delicate balance of timing and coffee.
But those few minutes after we burst out the door and pile into the car, the bickering and whining and yelling stops. These are the moments that I can take to shape their day, and I take that seriously. There have been days when this ride is an utter fail; when someone is grumpy or angry or has hurt feelings; or we’re running late but one of them has forgotten their shoes (who forgets shoes?). But we’ve all tried to consciously use this time for good. This is when I remind them to do their best; to be kind. To do something nice for someone else, even if they don’t know them, even if it’s just to say “hello” or hold a door open or pick up their pencil if they drop it. To smile at someone who needs to be smiled at.
This is when we talk about how to deal with people, both positive and negative interactions. It’s also where I field questions and discuss important issues, like:
“What if there was a toy store and it sold all the toys for free?”
"I miss Grandpa Ralph."
I know, baby. Me too.
… and …
“If we’re attacked by aliens, can I have permission to tape sharp knives on the ends of a pole and fight them with it?”
“Yesterday, I thought I had to go number four.”
Okay, I know what number one and number two are; what’s number four.
“Uh, throw up.”
Ooh, not good. So what’s number three?
“Have a baby.”
I think our conversations might be taking a turn. I don’t know if I have enough coffee for this.