What I Have Learned While Traveling With My Kids
For me, like for most parents, I believe traveling with kids at times were nothing less than “challenging.” For years, I truly believed children were born with knowing how to ask that infamous question, you know the one, “Mommy, are we there yet?” As a mother, we have numerous roles towards our children. When in the vehicle with children, we need to add a couple more: “entertainer and referee!” I found that being in a vehicle with my children was just different than all of us being in the house together. In a vehicle, there is no room to go and get away from each other. Even some of the smallest travel trailers have a door to shut behind you, even if it is just the bathroom door. Vehicles do not have an escape plan quite like that.
Hearing My Children Grow Up
As my children were becoming school age, I started truly hearing them speak to each other when we were going anywhere in the vehicle. Hearing them have converstaions with each other like little adults was pretty cool. The first time I ever heard by oldest daughter give her younger brother advice about starting school caught my attention like a deer caught in headlights. This is when I truly realized that my children were growing up and fast. She always loved school, my son, well, not so much. I remember her telling him not to be scared, she would always be at school with him and than mom would always be there to get them off the bus. It was around this time I began seeing than I wasn’t just the mom and teacher to them, I was becoming the student. I was hearing my children grow up and express love and concern for each other.
What’s An IPhone?
When we were in the car, we had 3 things: the radio to sing to, each other to talk to/play games with, or sleep! IPhones, I Pads and I Pods didn’t exist yet, much less laptops! How grateful I am today than we didn’t have them back then.
Being in the truck with the kids was when I believe I learned the most from them AND about them. This was the time there were no distractions with homework, cooking, washing clothes or even that old land line of a phone. Truck time was our time. In fact, the only real disagreements were where we were going to eat! ((usually I would give 2 choices and the highest vote won of course)) One of the most favorite thing for the kids and myself to do was sing. Of couse, each of them liked different types of music, so we changed stations frequently. Now, each of my children love all different types of music and it is wonderful.
Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying a child should not have these electronic “toys” ((my 5-year-old grandson has an iPad)) and here I am typing away on by laptop while by husband drives the car. What I am saying is I can see how much I could have missed out on had each of my children had their own hand held electronic device or even just a DVD player in the backseat. Sometimes, at home now, when they have their heads buried in their phones, I realize just how much I miss them! My 3 oldest are grown and my 2 youngest are teenagers. Sadly, we aren’t in the car much together anymore, if at all. Proudly, my 4 oldest children all have their own vehicles and thankfully jobs too, hence, we aren’t all in the same vehicle at the same time anymore.
The Silly Things Can Make The Best Memories
Some of my favorite memories traveling with my children were of the older one’s giving advice to the younger ones, even as young as 4 years old or so. They would reassure each other about a doctor appointment or even a rain storm we were driving through. I was hearing these little voices have conversations like little adults. I sure do not remember hearing them talk to each other like this at the dinner table. Being in the truck with the 5 of them was more like magic! It was where I really heard what was going on in school, what they liked and disliked and what they were hoping Santa Claus was bringing them for Christmas.
It was slowly over time that I began to realize just how important these trips were for our family but also just for me. The one on one times to the grocery store were becoming even more special.
What a proud grandmother I was the day my 5-year-old grandson asked me to play the “license plate game,” or, “the alphabet game.” When I asked how he knew to play those games, he smiled and said, “my uncles and by mommy taught me.” What joy I felt, it was my boys and my oldest daughters who had remembered all of this from when they were little and now they were teaching him. I had learned from my grandson just how much he loves to play the drums. One day when we were in the car together, he asked me to play the “drum song” for him. I had to call one of my sons and ask him what song it was. I was told, ‘”c’mom, mom, Juke Box Hero, by Foreigner, I couldn’t stop laughing, the kids and I always played that song as loud as the speakers would go and we would sing at the top of our lungs. I am sure my grandson will never know how much that converstation between us has meant to me, nor do I think my boys will either.
Traveling Has Changed
Sometimes, I wish I could go back to the days of the chaotic packing and listening to the kids argue about who was sitting next to the window, what kind of music we were going to listen to or even where to go eat. Sometimes I think it would be so great to hear just one more time their little voices saying, “mommy, are we there yet? But, I don’t. Now, when traveling anywhere, it is just quite. Even the radio isn’t quite the same.
I do not believe that there are much better things we can teach our children than the value of family. Activities like fishing, camping, hunting, and walking through wooded trails, make some good memories. However, going to the grocery store can be just as much of a value.
My husband & I, along with my children and grandchildren all live about an hour in half away from my parents. Tomorrow is by Dad’s 71st Birthday and mom is cooking. Of course, we are all getting together for dinner, cake and ice cream. Tonight, I received a bitter-sweet phone call -2 of my children are riding with their older brother and the other 2 are riding together in his new vehicle. The ride tomorrow will just be my husband and myself. My husband and I love music, but even the radio being loud and both of us singing just isn’t quite the same as hearing little voices coming from the back seat trying to sing a song they have never heard before. Tomorrow, the backseat will be empty. There will be no one to say they are hungry or need the bathroom. And no one will be there to say “mommy, are we there yet?
I am so proud that my 5 children and grandchildren are so close to each other. They do things like going our to eat, swim in the river, go fishing and even shooting the guns together. Tonight, in the car, my youngest, told me that her brothers had taken her to IHop after midnight bowling. I have a feeling that she would never have volunteered that at the dinner table.
I may never really know how it is that my 5 children grew up so close to each other. What I do know is, they are and they love and adore each another.
Whether it is just a trip to the grocery store, an hour 1/2 ride to see their grandparents or headed out with the camper and truck packed for a weekend trip, it is memories in the making. Vehicles can be a sacred place when you have children, if we remember just listen.
Sometimes, I think I would love nothing more than to hear one more time, “mommy, are we there yet?” But, I never will. Knowing that it is by daughter’s turn to hear that question from her children now, does puts a huge smile on by face though.
It isn’t always the destination than means the most, it is usually the journey to get us there than ends up being the most memorable, at least when we pay attention.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment below or send a personal email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear about some special memories of yours.
Remember, if those sleepless nights don’t last forever, neither will our camping trip! Here is too making the most out of our time together, whether around a campfire, at the dinner table, or just taking a ride to the grocery store.
P.S. My daughter read this and the next time we went off together, she giggled and said, “Hey, Mom, are we there yet? They really do pay attention even when we are not sure they do!