I don’t know about your public school parking lot, but many of them in our area were built decades ago when children walked or rode their bike or a bus to school. In 2013, the pick up and drop off processes can feel like a shopping mall parking lot experience on December 23.
Transportation to school has taken a turn since we were kids and many children are driven by parents or older siblings, cramming our lots and circular “pick up” stations. Although arguments for improved safety, health, environment and traffic by sending kids on foot, bicycle or bus are reasonable and true, it just isn’t a possibility for some parents.
So, for those of us who act as a bus driver every morning and afternoon, let’s get off the telephone, turn off the video player and seize the opportunity to have a conversation with our kids. Let’s use our drive to school for thoughtful and fun conversation.
On the drive to school yesterday (September 11), the kids and I saw several people waving our country’s flag along the road and on overpasses. This prompted a discussion about patriotism and a variety of issues. Due to the ages of my children, we tend to avoid lengthy, deep philosophical conversations, so I began with general information about what happened twelve years ago in New York City. Not wanting to give them an irrational fear of airplane travel, I simply said that one of our enemies attacked and killed thousands of our citizens, which launched us into a study of “Who is the enemy?” Again, not certain how to keep it uncomplicated while hoping to encourage critical thinking, my simple response was, “It depends which side you’re on.” As we arrived in the school parking lot, we were wrapping it up with an understanding that sometimes the two of them get angry with each other and each thinks the other is the enemy.
The take away for me? The warning we’re all given is true. My kids are growing up fast, and the sooner we start talking about anything and everything, the more hope I have that future conversations…especially the tough ones won’t be avoided.
Pick a new topic to explore during drive time (or at a restaurant, doctor’s office, anywhere you find yourselves waiting):
Talk about your family history. Where were your grandparents born? Their grandparents? How did they get to where you are now?
Create fictional scenarios to discuss behavior expectations (What would you do if…? How would you feel if…?)
Expand on your child’s current classroom curriculum (Today we talked about each of the continents and tried to remember all of the oceans.)
Play “Tell Me Everything You Know About _________” (Each person gets to say one thing they know about a topic you select. Everyone gets to share until you run out of information on the topic. Get started with: Narwhals, caterpillars, giraffes, pianos, swimming pools, skyscrapers, yogurt, cookies, berries, crystals, seashells, stalagmites, tornadoes, earthquakes, lightening…get it?)
Create a story. In a round, each person gets to develop the tale by adding a part. OR, one person guides the story and the others fill in the blanks. (Rosie woke up to find a __________ in her bedroom. When she discovered that it could talk and cook breakfast, she ______________. Etc…)