Posted tagged ‘traveling’

Riding in the Car with Mom

January 13, 2011

“….now we need to find him a car and I am never driving my kids to school again!”

At first, I heartily agreed with a friend’s Facebook status expressing exhilaration at her son finally getting his driver’s license.   Not having to cart your socially active/sports playing kids/teenagers around town is kind of freeing.   But driving them to school?  Hmm…..

My children have had to deal with Mom’s Taxi from the very start of their school careers out of necessity.  Since we didn’t live in the school district where I taught, and wanting him (and later, her) to be on the same year round school calendar as I was, I enrolled Prince across district boundary lines.  This meant that he needed to ride with me every day and spend a time in the before school child care program at his school so I could skedaddle to mine.  Later I managed to find a parent closer to our house who could babysit in the mornings and they could catch the bus from her neighborhood.  Then I was transferred to a school right next door to a middle school so they could ride to work with me in the mornings and then walk down and wait my classroom till the end of the elementary school day.  When he went to high school we even managed to finagle a ride for him on a high school route that would drop him off at my elementary school so he could wait even longer.

But they did their homework in the Media Center, helped out in classrooms and got into some harmless trouble now and then.  But we rode together……every day.

Back and forth.

In Mom’s Taxi.

When they were younger we would sing songs at the top of our lungs, practice spelling words and talk about books they were reading as we drove back and forth.  We knew the routes to take to see the MOST obnoxious holiday displays and the short cuts to avoid – or not – on muddy days.   We knew where to plug our noses to avoid the smell of mulch in the making.  We knew where to see nesting swans and baby ducks in ponds along the way.  

But the reason that I could relate to my friend’s happiness at those ‘taxi’ days coming to an end is because driving kids – now teenagers – can be a bit aggravating.  We have had days when the only conversation we had were grunts or snorts as they took cat naps in the car.   And the surliness of kids who were tired of the mundane routine of school was a little hard to bear at times….especially if my own day had been challenging. 

 I did have some respite from the task when HRH was laid off from his job for a period of six months last year.  He did the chaffering to their schools and I enjoyed the luxury of being able to leave home a bit later in the morning.   To play MY songs on the radio.  To roll the windows down and turn off the air conditioning.

But the truth of it is, I kind of missed those morning and afternoon drives after a while.  I missed the forced containment in a small space with my kids for a short period of time. 

You see, riding in the car with Mom gave me a few moments of the day to reconnect with them.  To hear about how their day went, who they were sitting with at lunch and what ‘crappy’ homework they had to do.  I heard about substitute teachers that were awesome and shenanigans in the hall that others were involved in.  Always….others. 

I know the music they like and the radio stations they tune into.  I know the fast food places they want to stop at for an after school ‘snack’ and how quickly they can ‘power shop’ in the mornings at the 24 hour grocery store.  I knew how they felt about the current events we saw happening on the news as we were on the way out the door. 

So now that one has a license to drive and the other has her learner’s permit the campaign to get a car for them has stepped up somewhat.  They want to drive themselves to school.

But, in all honesty, I am planning on holding out for at least another year. 

I’d miss my kids.


Things I Learned on the Road

July 18, 2010

Princess and I took a much needed and impulsive road trip to a southern state fourteen hours away.  My parents were visiting my sister from their home in Florida.  We decided to visit them.  So we left at 5 am to make the drive in one day. 

Okay…so 5 am plus 25 minutes to shower plus 10 minutes to gas up and 20 minutes to make a quick stop to pick up ring bologna and blueberries for the folks.  THEN, we hit the highway.

When you are driving south on I-75, Ohio has to be our least favorite stretch of road.  That state goes on forever.  Princess prefers to sleep through it…and did this time.  Once she was awake – and sitting in the front seat – our road trip took off.  Really took off.

It was very educational for both of us.  And these are the things I observed…..

#1  We are both ‘wind in our hair’ kind of gals.  HRH and the Prince prefer windows closed and the AC chilling.  Princess and I are happiest when the windows are down and the wind is blowing and the i-pod is blasting tunes through speakers that are vibrating against your shin.

#2  Playing with a Mom’s new cell phone can allieviate the boredom of a car ride….especially when you discover that you can send text messages from that new cell phone to your own cell phone.  Texting yourself?  How revolutionary!

 #3  Kudzu is on the move.  For the very first time I sighted this ominous vine in northern Kentucky along the free way….in three places.  I first learned about kudz uwhen we went to a kudzu festival in South Carolina many years ago.  It was a plant transplanted from Japan to help deterr the erosion of the sandy soil.  Kudzu in Japan is a food delicacy and also has a dormant period in it’s growth cycle during the winter months…..cold weather that is absent in the American south.  Kudzu completely covers the ground, wraps its self around trees and bushes and will even swallow up buildings.  It grows eight inches in one day.  Driving past a kudzu laden stretch of area can give one pause.  Creepy, scary ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ kind of pause. 

#4  Its fun to honk the horn when you are driving through a tunnel cutting through a mountain.  Its as much fun being the one doing the honking as it was being the child begging her dad to honk all those years ago.

#  5 The Smoky Mountians really ARE smoky….no matter what time of day it is.

#6   Red twizzlers candy and Chex Mix are good road foods for a trip of this nature.

#7 It takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to lick your way to all of the colors on a giant jaw breaker sucker from Cracker Barrel.

#8  A child cooped up in a car and hopped up on Red Twizzlers candy can find something funny in anything.

#9   Asheville and Nashville sound pretty funny together when you are hopped up on Red Twizzlers.

Asheville and Nashville……just try saying that five times fast.

#10   SOME questions are…maybe….just best left answered by thumbing through a copy of a ‘growing up’ book… yourself.

#11  McDonalds and Burger King seem to alternate which chain will have the best kept restrooms on any given trip.

#12 ‘Jet Leg’ and ‘Jet Lag’ could – maybe – be the same thing……but Jet Li is not.  (WAY way too many Red Twizzlersfor this conversation!)

Can’t WAIT for the ride home. : )

Big Cities

January 2, 2009

We were watching a dvd until about 10 minutes to midnight last night.  We switched off the film and turned to the ABC Rockin’ Eve program to watch the ball drop in Times Square.  It was very cool.  It always is.  To see the people filling the streets.  The confetti.  The noise.  The snow….  And it was a little more thrilling for me when I realized that I had been there too.  Times Square.    It was just one of my ‘big city’ adventures this year.

The day after Thanksgiving, I dragged my semi-reluctant family to the Fox Theater in Detroit to see a professional production of ‘White Christmas.’  It was cute.  Splashy.  Colorful.  Expensive.  (And maybe…not nearly as good as the high school production of ‘Seussical the Musical’ we had seen the weekend before for about 1/4 the cost.)  As we were driving through the nearly deserted streets after the show on our way back home,  I was thinking about the fact that in the last eleven months I have spent a significant amount of time in Chicago, Detroit, Boston and New York.  Big cities.  That’s pretty amazing since I live in a fairly rural community in south east Michigan.  Detroit is about a 50 minute drive for us.  I used to go there a couple of times a year with a friend to shop at the Eastern Market, lunch in Greek Town and then cross the bridge to purchase baked goods at Columbo’s in Windsor’s Little Italy neighborhood.  Good times.  Great memories.

My family and I stayed in Detroit last spring while I attended the Michigan Reading Association’s convention at Cobo Hall.  Sadly, there was very little for my family to do in the city while I was attending presentations and classes.  They rode the People Mover a couple of times and visited a particular bakery in Greektown.  There were no shops to visit.  No bookstores or hobby shops or museums close by to visit.  Everything was shut tight for the weekend.  My children were actually fearful to get off the ‘beaten track’ when we went looking for a place to have dinner.  Sad.

They all love Chicago.  We have been there several times and never at any other time than February.  Go figure.  They like walking the streets looking for favorite shops…and some new ones.  They like riding in cabs.  They like the museums.  They have never been afraid there.  Never been fearful about getting off the ‘beaten track’  there.   Our plan is to try the city in the summer some time soon.  Heh.

Boston was a totally new trip for all of us.  A HUGE adventure.  We discovered that we like subway trains in Boston.  That we like the Red Sox.  That we like being on the water.  That we have new and greater admiration for JFK.  We would all go back to Boston in a heart beat.  Boston rocks.

I had been trying to get to New York City since I was eight years old.  My three day ‘adventure’ to see my favorite actress in a play was the highlight of my entire year….probably.  And it wasn’t just  catching up with an internet friend I had known but never met, the play and meeting Maura Tierney afterwards.  I like the ‘music’ of New York….the pulse….the people….the action.  Naw…scratch ‘like’ and insert ‘love.’   The Princess and I are planning a trip there together for her birthday in August.  One thing is for certain, her trip will be an entirely different one that the one I took in September.  We will see the Statue of Liberty this time – because she wants to.  But we will sneak in a visit to the West Village bookstores, Morandi and the Magnolia Bakery for hummingbird cupcakes – because I want to.

When I think about our big city adventures, I am sad for the city of Detroit.  So very sad.   It appears that the music there has dwindled.