January 9, 2014

A little peace and quiet

After you've got your kid strapped down in her car seat, do you ever linger outside just a bit before you get back in the car? Just for a few precious seconds of peace?

On Facebook the other day, a friend asked: “After you get your kids buckled in the car, do you sometimes walk a little slowly and enjoy the few seconds of silence before you get in?”


Talk about hitting the nail on the head!


At age three (and since the age of 1 1/2, really), Nora has talked pretty much nonstop. Which is great — it’s such a joy to get a window into what’s going on in her brain (mostly lines from books she’s read or TV shows we’ve watched recently) and to be able to communicate with her when she needs something. Plus, she often cracks me up with her observations about the world. But sometimes just 10 consecutive seconds of silence is the highlight of my day – when I can get it.


So yes, the car is both a torture device and a source of sweet relief when it comes to toddler talking. One on hand, a 20-minute drive somewhere means 20 minutes of nonstop questions and dialogue when sometimes I’d really rather just hear what’s on the radio. But on the other hand, there’s that precious few seconds between when you shut the door after strapping your toddler into her seat and when you make it around to your side of the car to get behind the wheel. 


Do I ever dawdle through that process? Weather-permitting, oh hell yes. Sometimes I make a show of picking leaves out of the crack between the hood and the windshield. Sometimes I kick away debris I find near my parking space. And sometimes I just lean against the drivers side door for a second and don’t even pretend I’m doing anything other than enjoying the quiet.


I know one day when Nora’s a sullen teenager who hates me, or even beyond that when she’s moved out of the house and started her own life, I’ll miss the constant babble from the backseat. But for now, to survive, I need those little walks around the car every now and then. And apparently I’m not alone in that.

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