Years ago, I used to carpool with other parents. We would take turns getting our children to school, dance, sports activities, school activities, movie theaters, and most importantly if you had girls, the mall. I treasured those times in the car with my daughters and their friends.
I was always amazed by how much information I gleaned while sitting quietly in the driver's seat. I must have had on an invisibility cloak while driving because all the girls in the car would share details about crushes, insecurities, arguments between friends, who were the new hot couples in the school, to what parties people were invited, and much, much more. I'm sure if the girls realized how I was filing all this information away for future reference, my invisibility cloak might have stopped working. But work it did, and when other parents were tired of driving, I found myself volunteering as much as possible.
The biggest payoff of carpooling, though, were the times after I had dropped off the last girl, and we were headed toward home. My daughter would be sitting "shotgun" in the seat beside me. This is when life got really good. I would get detailed descriptions of what had gone on when they were out with their friends. It was also a time they would share concerns and celebrations of their own. It was just us, talking in a car, side by side.
My enjoyment of these side by side moments came rushing back to me this past week, when my daughter, home for a four day spring break, asked me to accompany her on a walk because it was such a gorgeous day outside. As we headed out and started walking on the bike path, I realized with only a few prompts from me, she was sharing a great deal of information about her life with me. Our conversation went non-stop from the time we left our house until we returned. And then I noticed our body positions: we were walking side by side, shoulder to shoulder the entire time.
What is it about that side by side conversation that makes it so rich? Is it less threatening to not have to look someone in the eyes? Is it the chance to just have the flow of conversation headed straight forward? I don't have a scientific explanation, but my mom answer is this: I will enjoy as many side by side conversations as possible. I love talking with my daughters!!