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Cruise Control

Recovered from Originally posted May 30, 2017

I remember being 15 and longing for the day I'd get my license and the freedom I'd imagined it would forward 15 years and I'm sort of over it.

I don't necessarily mind driving, but I'd rather be at home or riding with someone else. I am now at a point when I seriously consider if trips across town can wait to be accomplished some other time when I'm already out.

That's not even factoring in driving as a mom. At first when M was a baby, driving came with the fear that she would freak out and start screaming because she was hungry, sleepy, needed a diaper change, couldn't see me, etc. etc. As she got older, I dreaded the whines and complaints of, "Are we there yet?" and, "Why aren't we there yet?" almost as much as I was sick of the sing-a-longs to Barney, Raffi and the like.

Things have changed again though. Don't get me wrong, she is still impatient and she still complains of boredom (which prompts me to retort, "Only boring people get bored" to which she becomes highly offended), but now, we also talk. Or rather, she talks and I listen. Maybe it's because I'm facing away from her, or because she can look out of the window instead of having to look directly in my eyes, but something about it seems to open her up. Our only eye contact comes if I move the rear view mirror to look at her. It's great for me too. I get an extra moment without her looking at my face to react and think my response through.

I get to hear about what she's thinking and feeling and which boy is teasing her and which boy is cute. She shares her fears, worries and doubts about growing up and the ideas she's forming about life. She tells me all about when her friends are doing things that she doesn't like or when they're having disagreements and she waits for me to advise her on how to navigate these situations while I navigate traffic.

In our little Toyota bubble that doesn't have any of the distractions of home she seems to feel safe to let it all out and assured that she has my (mostly) undivided attention.  So in the car I've learned about some things that were troubling (Is the friend who gets angry when someone else gets a privilege really a friend?) and I was able to stop some inappropriate behaviors before they took hold (You'd be surprised the things 2nd graders are sharing on the playground...or maybe you wouldn't and I'm just super old-fashioned). I've also been able to learn of some triumphs where she has diffused arguments among her friends and I can see that she's becoming a reasonable, caring person. Other moments that I've blogged about, such as her worrying about the size of her tummy and her telling me that she was afraid to let her personality shine out of fear of bullying, were also car conversations.

I think I may have found a new reason to love driving.

Cruisingly yours,


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