Car journeys before kids are pretty straightforward: traffic is annoying. The open road with some good music on is great. Company is fine. Going solo is fine too.
Who knew that when kids come along, car journeys take on a whole new meaning – and that that meaning changes as your child grows,
Confused? Let me enlighten you.
PHASE 1 – When you have a tiny baby, every other driver on the road seems like a reckless maniac. You become the world’s safest driver, constantly checking the rearview mirror to make sure your little angel hasn’t somehow manoeuvred their way out of their very very safe seat.
PHASE 2 – When they are slightly older, they might cry and it will hurt your heart because you don’t like to hear them cry, The whole reason you’re in the car, in fact, is to get them to sleep because they have entered a delightful phase where they JUST WON’T NAP. Therefore, you drive around and around – seemingly aimlessly, but with a definite goal in mind: a rested, non-demonic-with-tiredness baby,
PHASE 3 – When they are toddlers and down to one or two naps a day, car journeys are danger zones, especially those more than 10 minutes long, in the middle of the day, Because you DO NOT want your child falling asleep in the car. Oh. No. Because that is a waste of a nap. You NEED naptime, to drink coffee, unwind, surf the internet and read. And, you know, tidy the house, pay bills, blah blah. Even if the child only sleeps for 10 minutes in the car, it will negate their desire for a nap so much that you’ll just have a very grumpy kid all day, Which is why you will sing loudly, open all the windows, turn the air con on high – ANYTHING to keep them awake. Really, anything.
PHASE 4 – So, they are pre-schoolers or in the early years of school now and they don’t sleep in the day, so they don’t sleep in the car. No. they talk. Nonstop. Questions, observations, anecdotes (such as they are), singing. It’s cute, it really is. But did I mention that it is nonstop? You start to dream of the sleepy baby that once graced your backseat.
PHASE 5 – They hit the tweens. They and their siblings or friends are always together – you never seem to get one child at a time anymore, even if you do in fact have just one child. It’s time for playdates and the intense friendships that preteens specialise in. And they giggle. And giggle. And giggle. And you dream of your chatty little toddler talking only to you.
PHASE 6 – You’ve got the silent car back again. Your kids are still there, though. They are probably wearing black and listening to angst ridden rock, or just sitting there, seething. They are Teenagers. You find yourself desperate for the conversation you once wished would stop, and make inane conversation to an increasingly sneery teenager. You dream of your giggly little tween
Then – they learn to drive and you are more often on your own again. And it’s really nice. But gosh, you miss your little person.
Conclusion: just roll with it. This too shall pass. Honestly.