"Let's count buses," I said to the twins on the way to preschool. They were three at the time. The two restless toddlers zeroed in on the search for buses. The most we counted was about twenty-five on one trek. When they wearied of buses, we moved on to large trucks. The sizes of the trucks became an issue, so we returned to buses.
When my oldest granddaughter was the same age, we managed to have some pretty interesting topics in the car. My favorite was when she decided to make up a song called Pinky Pinky Pink. As we passed by things along the side of the road, they were added to her lyrics. At one point she informed me that she had another song. Oddly enough, it sounded just like Pinky Pinky Pink.....and had the same words. An imagination allowed to run rampant. Imagination brought to life by a toddler sitting in the backseat, looking out the window and an adult in the front paying attention.
Time in the car. With my children, I found those times together were some of the best. Problems were solved. Debates were had. Conflicts were worked out in a reasonable manner since there was no escape. A long time ago I decided that being a good parent/grandparent involved staying in the present. Never let opportunities slide by. Never ignore those kids riding in the car with you. In working with kids, I discovered that most of them felt their parents never listened. It made me think that maybe that was due to lack of involvement with them when they were small. For if you interact with them when they are small, your relationship with the struggling adolescent and teen is much easier at a later date. There is a foundation that supports a lifetime of love. It is built piece by piece starting when they are young. Maybe even in the backseat of a car.
"Okay, today we are going to look for heather plants and willow trees," I informed the dialogue-dueling duo on the backseat. "You mean Sydney's friend, Heather?" Emma asked. (Be prepared at all times for random comments and questions.) I slowed down as we passed a hillside of heather pointing out the pink flowers. "How can that be heather and Heather be heather?" (Oh, my). I explained to Emma that names like Heather, Robin, Lily, etc.can be shared with plants and even a birds. We passed the willow tree on my street and with great excitement, Nolan yelled, "A crying willow!"
Now no one said that it is easy being an older person and keeping up with little ones; however, I find that my mind works just about as quickly as theirs, and I can teach them at every opportunity with new, fun ways of learning. I can keep up with them. Just have to try.
The mind of a child is open to all information. They ride in that backseat just watching the scenery. Why not teach them the wonder of all they see? Why not interact and make the ride a joy for all? When the kids are no longer in the car, I will look at all the fun we had together and be thankful for each adventure.