“School bus!” I shout, pointing. Then, after looking in the rearview, I realize I am the only one in the car. I chuckle a bit, and realize just how much I have ingrained in me the things we do to distract/entertain our kids. Like pointing out all of the cement mixers, diggers, dump trucks, school buses, even big 18 wheelers if we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Why do we feel it necessary to do it? Do we really have to entertain our kids 24/7?
On our recent long car ride (think 20 hours total between two days), my husband and I figured we’d try whatever we could to survive. Yes, all we cared about was making it to our destination, we didn’t give two shits how long it took or how many stops we had to make. At some point, at about hour 8 on both days, we gave up trying to be fun and exciting, we just went for making it in one piece. Along the way, however, we discovered a few things: our eldest gets carsick when looking at technology (so no iPad or movies) and our youngest hates their carseat and will pretend like they have to use the potty (no they aren’t potty-trained yet) so that they could get out of the car, again. Don’t worry, we were onto them about halfway through the trip, so that saved us some useless stops. But what else could we do, besides play good music, talk, and pray they took good naps in the car? So in steps my husband, with his usual drive to daycare game, where they point out everything interesting they see. Horses, trucks, school buses, odd cars even, nothing was off limits. (This is where the T Rex comment came in, see earlier post.) Whatever it took to keep them occupied and not bugging the shit out of each other or us. In addition to saying what they saw, we also pointed out who’s window it was out of, so they can look for it. That worked well until we got to the, “why isn’t in out MY window?” which was said with the MOST whiny tone EVER.
And don’t even get me started about how I do it ALL the time, without kids, with friends, whatever. A friend of mine and I laughed about it, because we realized we both do it, all the time. I remember several times, on our way to a date night, my husband and I pointed out these various interesting things to each other, only to laugh so hard we almost cried. It had become so much of a routine that we almost couldn’t avoid it.
I definitely don’t think it’s bad to do it. It’s not like we are trying to plug our kids into electronics or we are ignoring them completely. I know some parents who use both tactics on EVERY car trip, even short, 20 minute ones. They are just asking for trouble. We aren’t promoting quick moving attention behavior either. We are definitely trying to make our kids look up, look around, and explore their world outside their car windows. We may have gone crazy in the process, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I just apologize now if you are ever in a car with me and I point out every “cool” moving thing around to you as we head for drinks. Sorry.