Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Best Conversations are Side by Side - Slice of Life Challenge

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!!

12 comments:

  1. This must be something you learn as a mom. My mom would always ask be to "go for a drive" with her when she knew there was something wrong. I never realized I was spilling much more than I would at home but I guess I was. I also find that talking with friends in the car gets us into much more revealing conversations than might happen face to face. I love your post, you've gotten me thinking more about how we communicate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You are so right, the backseat or side-by-side conversations are wonderfully open. I love the way you started with the carpool group too; they really don't seem to know you're there. And how great it is that you have noticed and you have kept noticing. Sweet that story between you and your college-age daughter!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are so right, side by side is the best. Do you think the other parents were oblivious of the valuable information they could have learned by listening? How sad for them, but how fortunate for you. Enjoy these moments and I hope for many more to continue.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love this post. My friends that have teenagers have mentioned the same phenomenon - the sharing of information in the car and the fact that the kids will forget you are there as you drive. My boys still spill regularly so I will file this away for future reference. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's a testimony to how patient and gracious you are and how you've cultivated these relationships. You are quite a mentor ~ Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. You're super smart! Some of the best advice I ever gave my friends with younger children is to offer driving your teens everywhere and just be quiet in the front seat-oh the lessons you learn. Although in the age of texting I wonder if the back seat conversations are quieter?

    ReplyDelete
  7. What I love about reading your posts is that they seem like a road map to parenting. I want to take all of your thinking about how to cultivate the relationships with your daughters and store them away for the years ahead. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for sharing this Karen. I always thought being the driver of the girls and their friends was a gift!

    Love your sharing of your time with your daughter at home. Enjoy this long weekend with her.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You had me thinking about how these side by side conversations are possible for moms and boys too! I remember the excitement I felt when my Joey was old enough to ride in the front seat because I was anxious to share in the same conversations you speak about. I am just beginning to appreciate these moments so thank you for helping me to remember to do just that!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Karen,
    I think you are onto something here. There is something about those times we have to just talk side-by-side with our kids. I love that you talk about that time you had alone to talk with your daughters about their concerns and celebrations. I'm sure your daughters look forward to coming home and spending time catching up with you. I think we appreciate it even more when they return after being away for awhile.

    Cathy

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm a mom of a 6 year old girl. She chats my ears off from the backseat and I think often about how I will miss these days when she's small. I really appreciated your post tonight because you've not only given me something to look forward to her as she gets older (and helped me realize that maybe not as much will change as what I've envisioned), but you've shared some wisdom that I will tuck away for her pre-teen, teen and beyond years.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love reading your stories about your girls and know what might be coming our way. Talking in the car is so true and being ready to listen when they share is key in embracing their growing up. Thanks for the guidance and reminders once again.

    ReplyDelete