The ChauffeurPosted: February 27, 2013
I finished my last client at 2:50 and raced over to the high school to grab Kid #1 to get him to a doctor’s appointment, only to return him to the house and grab Kid #3 and get her to Hebrew School by 4:30 wherein I got the call from Kid #2 that he was done with track practice and could I get him. That completed by 5:30, I was back in the car (did I ever get out of the car?) to pick up Kid #3 from Hebrew School. And, that is just one afternoon.
We all do it; schlepp in the car, plan carpools, sit in traffic and then reverse the whole process. When I was a newbie social worker working for Prince William County Department of Social Services most of my work was done in the car. I would drive to a foster home and pick up a foster child to take them to an appointment or to visit their birth parents. Back at the office we talked about “car therapy”. We referred to it as being one of the most ideal venues for therapy because we had a captive audience. The child/teen would be in the seat next to us, there was rarely any music because the county cars were so ancient, and we would be facing the road. What better way to pick at a teen’s deepest thoughts and feelings while riding side by side and avoiding eye contact?
I have not driven a client in about two decades, but that doesn’t stop me from attempts at exploring a teen’s inner-world in a moving vehicle. There is the weekly soccer practice driving that usually involves 1-4 fifteen year old boys; I don’t get any deep thoughts on these rides, but always great laughs and the privilege of listening to my son’s favorite Spanish radio station. Some of the more meaningful trips are when I am one-on-one with one of my kids. Last week my daughter and I drove six hours to Cleveland to visit friends. We had a great time; we chatted, sang to the radio and listened to almost an entire audio book. It was really nice to be able to discuss the book as we listened and talk about what we thought would happen next.
I have a policy that if I am driving one of my kids somewhere that they do not listen to their ear buds. I figure that since they have my time as the driver that I should be entitled to some level of conversation on the ride. If we are going on a long family trip, the rule is vetoed on behalf of peace, tranquility and my need to listen to my favorite artists that do not include loud rapping men singing profanities.
I encourage all of you chauffeurs out there to put on your listening hat during these
weekly daily jaunts around town. I don’t doubt that the teen or pre-teen sitting beside you might just have a some interest in what you did during the day or on your thoughts about the latest neighborhood gossip? Maybe not, but certainly providing that window for sharing will benefit both you and your passenger.
Do let me know how your car-talk time is going.