“Redeeming the time.” I think about this phrase often when I am in the car with my five-year-old chatterbox, who talks about anything and everything in the car. I love to hear him excited to discuss why different semis have different tires or how come so many water pumps were put up back in the “old days” (for the horses, of course) or why he will drive only speedy racecars when he gets older.
Redeeming the time in the car with our children can look like so many different things, based on age, gender, experience, exhaustion, etc. One thing I have purposed is that car rides will not be used for me to have alone time (which sometimes I so desperately crave) or to organize my day/schedule. Instead, time in the car will be spent getting to know my child who, unfortunately for him, has nowhere to escape to.
Here are five things I typically try to concentrate on while talking with my son in the car:
- Discuss something my child is interested in. Currently, it’s Legos…and pirates…and parkour…. and diving…and sour gummy worms…you get the picture. And each thing he discusses, he is passionate about, just waiting for the chance to share all of his excitement. His eyes light up, and his whole little person comes alive.
- Discuss something my child has a hard time expressing that he had to go through that day. When I ask, “How was your time with your friends,” or “How was Sunday school, “he is not allowed to say, “I don’t know.” Or anything generic. One thing I want to encourage in my son is his ability to verbalize what he is thinking, not to stuff away emotions because he doesn’t know how to express them.
- Discuss something my child really hopes for that day. I have found that this allows us to talk about what is really on his mind AND how we should respond when things don’t go exactly the way we want them to. Which is often.
- Discuss something fun/funny. With a five-year-old boy, you can just imagine what kinds of topics we discuss on a very regular basis. He reads Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes all day long, so if he’s asked about the funny stuff he read, he could talk for hours and hours. And giggle and giggle.
- Discuss ways that he can serve others during the day. Serving others does not come naturally to a five-year-old (or most of us, for that matter), but I have noticed that when we discuss specific ways of helping someone else, he does his best to remember and give of himself.
I always try to speak truth into all of the answers to the discussion’s given above. Most of all, these discussion show what is in my son’s heart. Sometimes I am laughing so hard, I’m crying. Sometimes I hear pride that needs to be confronted. And always, I hear a little boy who is looking to make a connection.
Talking about those things has helped to build a close relationship between my son and me. There never seems to be an end to the chatter that happens in our car. There’s never an end to the opportunities to build a connection. But sometimes, there’s an end to my ability to listen to another story about monster trucks. And for that, there’s Starbucks.