I looked up from my phone to look out the car window. Nothing. I went back to scrolling through social media and chatting absentmindedly with my wife about her day. We sat in the dark in our car waiting for our son to finish up from his school’s marching band practice.
A few minutes later, I looked up again, of course, a few more kids came running out. They were laughing and joking with each other. “Can’t wait for Saturday,” one of the kids yelled, but our son was still nowhere to be found.
I was getting annoyed. Where was he? Why didn’t he return our text to let us know when he would be coming out? I pushed down on the center console with a little more emphasis than needed in an effort to skip the Spotify song that came on the stereo. My wife gave me a look and told me to knock it off. She told me that we knew he would be running late and to relax.
Finally, after another ten minutes, our son came walking out the side door of his high school. Like most nights, he was one of the last kids to come out of the school, strolling over to the car like he didn’t have a care in the world.
I reminded myself to be calm and to enjoy the moment. Our son will be driving next year and he more than likely won’t need us to pick him up anymore after practice. As great as it will be for us to give him the keys to the family car and get out of the job of racing to the school to pick him up, we’re also going to be disappointed.
I love driving places with my kids. When my two oldest were in high school, I loved picking them up after their various after school activities and I love doing it now for our youngest son. The car works like magic. The kids get in the car tired and hungry. I’m usually tired too, but, if I play my cards right, it’s a great time to get a few bits of information.
- How was your day?
- How did you do on your Math test?
- How much homework do you have left to do tonight?
- What’s going on this weekend?
With any luck, I’ll start get more information than I asked.
- Yes, it was a good day.
- No, the Math test was cancelled and Mrs. Bitler liked how I described how a cell is formed.
The information flow comes dripping out at a snails pace, but next thing you know, we’re starting to talk real issues, the kind that every parent wants to hear.
- Hey, we’re doing this cool experiment in Chemistry.
- One of my friends asked if we could get together Saturday night. What do you think?
- I’m sort of worried about the PSAT, but my teacher thinks I’m going to do well on it.
The information starts to come much quickly now. The talk comes at a faster clip. You start to get a real glimpse into his ups and downs, friendships, and challenges. It’s all simple enough, but those little nuggets of information take you to places that you never expect. In short, those little conversations have given me glimpse into the types of people my kids are becoming.
A passing of the torch
Yes, I’ll still be able to grill my son when he drives himself, and truth be told, we live relatively close to school, so the drive is nothing special, but those five to ten minutes are still some of my favorite of the day. It’s been great to get to know him.
But I know we’re approaching another milestone, another checkpoint on the road. Time keeps moving on. In this case, the car keeps moving on down the highway.
And my son can’t wait to close the door on Mom and Dad’s taxi service!