When my daughter was in high school several years ago, I had the job of driving her to school. I would use the miles to list out in my head all the things that I needed to get done that day. My to-do list always seemed to outnumber the number of hours in the day.
I spent most of my time though shaking my head at the carelessness of the other drivers and worrying about getting into work on time. A fender bender here, a garbage truck there, and I could automatically count on another five to ten minutes tacked onto my commute.
My daughter would sleep or chill for much of the drive, but she’d usually wake up a few minutes before we got to the school and talk about her schedule, what tests she had coming up, how her friends were doing, and her worries and concerns. I have my flaws and can be thick-headed with the best, but I was somehow smart enough to shut up and just listen. I learned a ton by just listening.
I came to count on the last five minutes of the drive. And in a way, I think she did too. Soon, without any prompting, she was asking for my thoughts on college and her future. She came to trust me so much that she even let me go prom dress shopping with her. We connected in ways that I never would have expected.
Despite the hassle, I came to miss the drive.
A new drive
A few years later, I would occasionally pick-up my son from Cross Country and later Track and Field practice. I would walk into my house and before I even had time to get changed I would have to run back out to pick him up.
His school was mere minutes away so when he got in the car we didn’t have as much time to catch-up. I’d throw him a softball question asking about his workout, whether his coach had him run hills or maybe intervals. He’d tell me and if I was lucky, he’d start telling me about his day and within a minute or two we’d be pulling up to our driveway. I’d try to keep the conversation going, but it felt much more forced. While sped up significantly from conversations with his sister, I still got much from the experience. I got a glimpse into his highs and lows and his loves and his frustrations.
Despite the hassle, I miss the drive.
Here if you need me
My son and daughter are now both off in college, undertaking new and exciting adventures. We still have one child at home, their younger brother, but he rides the bus. I occasionally get to pick him up from marching band practice, but my wife has had the honors most nights.
It’s funny how it all worked out: the thing I hated — signing up for drop-off or pick-up duty — became something that I look forward to now and has become a cherished memory.
So when my oldest son called two weeks ago and asked if I’d come pick him up at school for a long weekend at home, I jumped at the chance. He didn’t even get through saying that he wanted to catch up on his sleep and homework. I was already answering “yes.”
I could have done without the three-hour drive. I could have done without the heavy traffic. In the end, it didn’t matter, I didn’t care. If I had to, I would have driven cross country.
Yes, despite the hassle, I miss the drive.