Friday Letter to My Kids (yup, on Saturday)
Dear J, J, L and L,
Ya’ll remember the Datsun, right? Or as someone used to call it, the Grasshopper, due to it’s non-functioning shocks. Well, at one point in its colorful existence, it was a brand new baby car, fresh off the showroom floor. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, maybe not totally fresh, it’d been on some test drives, so it had one thousand miles on the odometer.
I only bring this up because so many happy things occurred in that car. Conversations being the chief among them.
When Little J first found her voice she told stories that would start at Grandma’s house and not end until we arrived at our place thirty minutes later. Big J and I didn’t get a word in edgewise. Unless Whitney Houston came on the radio, then Little J would stop talking long enough to sing along with the lyrics to “The Greatest Love of All.” She loved, loved, loved that song. (She was three years old.)
But I digress.
Something about sitting in the confines of a vehicle brings out the conversationalist in each of you. Or at least, it did.
Maybe being side by side but without eye contact did the trick. Or perhaps the steady hum of the engine and scenery rolling past triggered some reflex in the larynx. It’s even possible that some chemical in the car interior prompted a letting down of emotional defenses.
It didn’t always work that way, but when we got a good one on one conversation going, it usually happened in a car with just two of us going somewhere.
I’d guess some of us logged more miles together than others. Daily drives to and from school, and fairly regular trips back and forth from lessons, sports, church stuff, doctor appointments, errands, performances and more. Some of you even endured/enjoyed a few just-one-of-you and me road trips. Maybe it all balances out to the same mileage for each of you.
I loved those talks.
To be honest a few arguments and screaming matches happened, too. We won’t pretend that never happened.
Some pretty loud silences filled the car on occasion as well.
There’s definitely conversations we should have had that never happened. And probably a few discussions that shouldn’t have occurred, although I can’t think of anything specific. And I ought to have been much more direct and less wishy-washy on more than a few occasions.
If you can learn anything from my mistakes that’d be great. I’m guessing you’ll make your own unique set of communication errors as a parent or as a spouse.
One thing I try to do when I look back at those good times and at those dang-it-I-shoulda-done-better times, I liken myself to our fresh-off-the-showroom-floor Datsun. The first ten to fifteen years of parenting I had hardly any miles worth noting. Not until I’d experienced *frillions of bumps, detours, twists, construction zones, shortcuts, hills, side roads and breakdowns did I even begin to know what I was doing. Even then, well, I’m an imperfect and
many splendored flawed person grasshoppering down the freeway.
Having your good company has made all the difference as the numbers have skyrocketed on my odometer o’life.
I look forward to many more conversations with each of you in years to come. Here’s hoping you enjoy the many chats you get to have with your own little traveling companions.
All my love,
* Frillion: a psychological/mathematical term combining an astronomically high number with near insanity level nonsense and stress
“Sometimes I wish that I was the weather, you’d bring me up in conversation forever. And when it rained, I’d be the talk of the day.” ~ John Mayer