20 June 2012

riding in cars with boys

one of my favorite memories with my husband was when we were about to embark on a long road trip across the country. as we pulled out of the driveway, i said, "let's talk baby names." we were not even engaged. and we had a long road ahead of us literally and figuratively. 

i guess you could say some of our most meaningful talks have been in the car. it was on that first long road trip out west that we discovered that he had experienced as many early deaths in his family as i had divorces. the exact same number. who has the time to find out such minute details, but on a long road trip? that was long before there was technology to drown out the conversation. 

my most meaningful talks with my boys {i can't remember if any of their names made the baby list those many years ago during that infamous 'baby talk' drive} have also happened while driving. i think it's because we are sitting close, going somewhere, not looking at each other, and neither of us can leave the room. yesterday i found myself alone in the car with just one boy. we were on our way to the orthodontist. he was telling me about how a kid at the pool had called him "train tracks" because of his braces. "and mom. the thing is, he had braces too so i said, 'who are you calling 'train tracks', piranha?" this unpleasant exchange spurred me to explain how kids can sometimes be unkind {my boy's piranha comment not excluded}. i explained that as a homeschooler he isn't always privy to how kids can sometimes be cruel. "mom, i want to go to real high school." this is not the first time he has shared his hope with me. and i have always answered with, "let's wait and see." i confessed to him that as a mother i so want to protect him from things: hurt, temptation, distraction, anything that is not wholesome. but i also know that those things will eventually find him. as we drove down the road i explained, "i would rather those things find you while you are still living with us so that we can walk you through them than when you are not living with us, and we can't."
today i had a story to share with him, something i had just read by one of my favorite writers andrĂ©e seu peterson. she wrote about trees. apparently it isn't healthy to stake a newly planted tree because when the winds come the tree will not be forced to take root. instead, when a new tree is planted in the soil, it should be simply planted so that it can do what it is made to do-take root. when the rough winds come and buffets the sapling, the roots of the tree will grow deeper and stronger. the stake, on the other hand, keeps the tree from taking root and in the words of mrs. peterson, "makes the young tree a sitting duck for a good stiff gust." 

that reminds me a great deal of parenting. i explained this to my second born son. how i desperately wish to shelter him like that stake does for the tree, but how that shelter isn't always what's best so while he lives with us, we would rather the winds blow hard so that we can help steady his tree as his roots dig in. 

i adore our car talks and hope someday my boys will enjoy equally satisfying car talks with their kids. speaking of my kids driving...check this out. a bit long, but worth it! 


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