Even though the car is often my nemesis – or prison – or seemingly best friend (that is, if you calculate the amount of time spent with someone or something and award the winner of most-time-spent with best friendship), it can provide a terrific venue for conversation. Especially with a kid – in their teenage years.
Sitting in front of Chipotle, I had such an opportunity with one of mine.
“Mom (…pause…) I think I’ve decided that quiet is better.”
“Okay. … What do you mean about quiet and better?”
“Well, I’ve been thinking. And I’ve noticed that all the popular people are really loud. When they’re loud, lots of people pay attention to them and then everyone likes them. I think I’ve been doing that at school a little … and I’m going to stop.”
“Well, really popular girls … they’re so cool. They know everything and talk about everything. But since I don’t know everything, when I’m with them – even though they supposedly like me (I don’t think they do) – I don’t say anything. I mean, they come into a room as a group. Then when they sit down as a group. Even if I’m right next to them, they turn their backs so they face each other. I’m pretty sure they don’t want me included. I’m scared of them. That’s why I don’t say anything.”
“So since I’m quiet, when one of them gets hurt by the others, they come to me. I do like that.”
“That’s good… ”
“Yeah – I get so excited. I think they’re going to include me in their group after that. Then I would be with the cool kids and be in the popular Istagram group and get lots of ‘likes’.”
“But they forget. (… pause…) Anyway, when I’m at school [sidebar: she goes to a different school than a lot of her friends] I’m loud. It’s fun and everyone thinks I’m great, but it’s weird. When I’m being loud, I’m always thinking about trying to impress everyone and being the coolest. Then I’m thinking about who I’m talking to so I can make sure it’s only the cool people – so no one will think I’m weird. And even though I’m popular there, I’m still not in the popular group I want to be in. It’s actually pretty stressful.”
“So, I’ve decided that quiet is tons easier – and it feels better. Or maybe the loud isn’t so bad, it’s that I’m sort of manipulating loud to make me look cool. … yeah … I like quiet a lot better when, even though I think it would be more fun to be on the other side, I’m just there for people. I’m really going to try to remember to find the person no one is talking to and talk to them. … and maybe be a little loud, but without making it all about me.”
“Hmm… Good stuff to think about…” We both sat for a few moments and did.
There you have it. Honest perspective about life that reaches far beyond the teen years.
Great stuff for me to think about. Convicting, but good. Remind me to remember when the Christmas parties and social holiday gatherings begin. Whether we are invited or not invited to the “cool” party, whether I’m wearing the right or wrong outfit, whether I’m on or off a Christmas card list, whether I’m included or excluded, I hope I can take the road she’s choosing … the not making it about me one.
The cherry on top of that chocolate-sunday car-chat was added by her littlest brother when I tucked him into bed later that night.
“Knock –knock,” he excitedly lobbed my way. (sidebar: He’s five. Sometimes his knock-knock jokes don’t fit the knock-knock mold… just sayin’.]
“I love you.”
“No! You’re supposed to say ‘who!’”
“Oh..yes. ‘I love you WHO?’”
Then he grabbed my neck as hard as he could. “I love you more than the whole universe!” With an emphatic squeeze he added, “… and it’s not opposite day.”
… and thanks for walking the road with me.