Lesson #10: The Car Is My Prison
I love talking with my 3 year old. He's a pretty funny kid and he often makes us laugh. The other weekend when he saw ants on my parents' deck he exclaimed, "Look, ANTS!" and when my mom told him that ants need a place to live too, he replied, "Yep. Ants gotta live on someone's leg." Last month when he was caught red handed getting into the bag of chocolate chips he explained, "Daddy I'm getting some chocolate chips for the chocolate chip party tonight!" He's sweet and smart and engaging and fun to listen to... unless you are enclosed in a vehicle with no escape.
I can't fault him for being a Chatty Cathy; he certainly comes rightly by it. But OH. MY. GOSH. Strap him into a car seat and he instantly develops a severe case of diarrhea of the mouth. There is literally no break in the conversation. I don't even bother turning on the radio anymore because he'll say, "Mommy, shut off the radio, I need to talk to you!" I feel guilty if I don't because, really, how can I choose some crappy top 40 over my kid? What follows isn't even so much a conversation as it is an endless stream of questions. He'll exclaim, "Look, a fire engine!" and immediately follow that up with, "Was that a fire engine?" To which I always reply, "Was it?" and he'll answer, "Yes!"
He also thinks I have mind reading super powers because he always asks me where other cars are going and why they're going there. Um... I DON'T KNOW!!! Sometimes I like to make up fun answers just to see what he'll say. Like, he'll ask, "Where's that car going Mama?" and I'll answer, "To outer space!" in a really excited voice, just to see what he says. He usually calls my bluff and says, in a very serious tone, "No they're not, they're just going down the road." Oh, ok.
Oh, and I just love when he points to something and asks, "What's that?" and I realize that I have NO CLUE what the heck the thing is. That always makes me feel really smart.
But the worst is the endless circle of why questions. My husband can sit there and answer why questions all day long and not get the least bit irritated. Of course, he gives long drawn out scientific answers that the kid has no hope of understanding, which tends to put a damper on continuing to ask why.
Here's an excerpt from a recent car conversation. First, let me set the scene: We are cruising along at a 60 mile an hour clip when he discovers that he can put his window down. I'm a windows down kinda gal so this doesn't bother me at all. Until I look in the mirror and see that he's using a brown Timbits bag as a "flag" that he's waving OUT the window. The bag is dangling precariously from his fingertips and is being whipped violently by the wind, sure to blow free of his grasp at any given second.
Me: Oh no buddy, you can't put the bag out the window!
Me: Because it might blow away.
Me: Because the wind would blow it away. We can't throw bags out the window.
Me: That's called littering. It's not good to litter.
Me: Because it's against the law and it makes the earth dirty.
Him: Why did you roll my window up?
Me: Because you were putting stuff out it.
Him: Why can't I roll it back down?
Me: Because I locked it.
Me: Please stop asking why every time I answer.
Him: Why, why, why, why, WHY!!!!!!
By the end of the 45 minute trip to my parents' I was ready to drive the car off a cliff.
The thought of spending 15 hours in the car with him when we go visit my mother in law this September makes head hurt. A lot. I think maybe I'll try and beat him at his own game. We'll pull out of the driveway and I'll ask, "Where are we going?" and when he tells me we're going to Grandma's, I'll ask, "Why?". When we're 4 hours in and he tells me he's hungry I'll just say, "Why?"
Seriously though, I think we should foster his inquisitive nature, to answer his questions and ask him some questions too. To really teach him what this world is all about. So, as we set off on our long LONG journey, and he starts with they why questions, I'll do what any good mom would do. Plug in my iPod and let hubby do the heavy lifting.