It’s Sept 11. An infamous day for America. A day when we reflect on the innocent people we lost and the family and friends who lost them.
So this morning, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I was listening somberly to the names of the people who lost their lives on that terrible day. And I teared up thinking about the precious time those poor victims lost with their loved ones through no fault of their own. And that made me think for the umpteenth time, of how much my family means to me and how lucky I am to have them.
Then as it so often does, my mind wandered to thoughts about what if something happened to me, and how all the hours my kiddos are away with school and activities now really reduce how much we get to really be together. And I missed them. Which led me to think again how important it really is for me to make the most of the time I am blessed to have them with me. Today. Because you never know about tomorrow…
Which, let me to think of our daily, 15 minute, out of zone, car ride to and from school. Let me tell you. Some of those rides could be better. For we do not experience only great, angelic, harmonious drives to school and back each day. Some days, the stars are aligned, and we do. But some days, well…we don’t.
Some days, my boisterous boys fight, pick on, and irritate each other and me to no end as I’m desperately trying to drive them safely to the drop off point. I try to stay calm and ask them to settle down. No luck. I try again. Still no luck. Then I holler, threaten, take away privileges, plead. I’ve stopped the car to lecture, yell, reason with them, dole out punishments…and we all end up feeling bad. Not my goal.
So as I was thinking about 9/11 and all this family stuff I began to wonder what other tactic I might employ to disrupt stressful anxious car behavior and get us back on track to happy.
Books on tape (or CD actually) that I actively listened to with my boys, was my answer. I had a couple we received as gifts, but I never really used them a lot before. What a dummy I am.
It’s not TV. It’s not rock music. And it’s not more video gaming. It’s brain development, language arts experience, entertainment and family time as we listen and laugh together. After one particularly stressful driving day, I ordered three new CD books for the car. The next time tempers began to flair, I pulled out my surprise and just turned it on. My boys didn’t listen at first, but when they noticed me listening, they settled down and began to enjoy WITH me! Ahh. Peace and harmony again restored. I think my boys watching me listen to the story made them enjoy it more. I don’t think they felt the “plugged in” feeling that sometimes comes when we need to…well…plug them into something!
And it felt good. Similar to the bedtime story time we love to share each night. And we got in more happy family time – today. And I adored my children and they adored me. And it was good for all of us and we were…happy. Which of course is my goal for us each day.
So…I told my Mom about this. Many of you know, my Mom is a veteran elementary school teacher. She said this. “Isn’t that remarkable. You redirected their energy to something positive – got out in front of their behavior and turned it into something else. Good for you. So many people yell and punish children (like me) when their behavior turns, but here you’ve done quite the opposite and it’s benefitting all of you.” Yep. I’m 44 and still like that “Mom Approval” myself.
Oh and hey, I know it won’t work every day or last forever, but Halloween’s coming so I got The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything for the car with the book to follow along, and I’ll bring out in October. And maybe, just maybe, if I keep it seasonal and fresh, and don’t overdo it, I’ll have another parenting tool to pull out of my Mommy Bag from time to time to manage our car rides and turn more of them into a family experience we can all enjoy.
I love figuring things out like that. Finding more ways to enjoy each other as much as we can in the little moments each and every day. Because I can’t control things in the world that could happen to us like the horrific events of 9/11, but I can squeeze out every single family minute I can to love, enjoy, laugh and just be together.
BTW, if you have any great car ride ideas, I’d love to hear from you! Til then, happy driving.
That’s Laura’s Choice today.