Friday, January 6, 2012

Car rides and conversations

One of my favorite ways to spend time with Zoe is while traveling.  Air travel is especially fun (no, I'm not kidding) because she LOVES it and is a total peach almost all of the time.  She asks really sweet questions, likes to do most of the stuff herself (carry her suitcase, hand over her ticket etc.) and is sincerely thrilled with every mode of transportation involved in the journey to our terminal in Denver (shuttle from the parking lot to the airport, escalators, train to terminal, moving walkway, etc).  She enjoys watching her movies with her own personal pink earphones while on the plane and gets excited every time the flight attendants come around with snacks and apple juice.  She's also fascinated with taking off and landing and says goodbye and hello to wherever we are taking off from and landing in...this last time we came home to Denver, she gazed out the window while quietly singing "Maybe" as the plane roared and our bodies jolted around upon landing.  With the risk of jinxing the whole thing, I'm telling you I could just eat her up during those trips.  It's one of those things I hope I never forget.  I watch her bop around the airport, holding her Daddy's hand or going it alone with her little Dora suitcase and I find myself trying to burn the whole thing into my memory...

Anyway, while it's not always that honky dory (since we are in the damn thing almost every day), the car can also bring about some super sweet, "This is what I love about being a parent" moments...Nathan and I sneak a lot of ear to ear grins while listening to her sing along to her music or trying to find the words to tell us about an exciting day at school and I have a lot of great one-on-one conversations with her when it's just me and the kids.  The other day, we were borrowing our friend Gretchen's car while ours was in the shop and Zoe had a grand old time checking out all the different stuff they have in their car ("Mommy, it's cool they have toys in their car, huh?"  "Look, Mommy they keep their floor clean!").  There was a play phone in there that she was messing around with for a long time that she ended up getting annoyed with because every time you put it down it rings so that you'll pick it up and (hopefully, in the manufacturers eyes) never want to stop playing with it.  It has a couple of phrases it says every time you pick it up, one of which is "Do you want to come outside and play?"  At first, she thought it was funny and was pretending to make phone calls all over town ("We're just putting gas in the car right now.....yep and then we'll be on our Mom's just putting me back in my car seat now...what did you say?  Yes...what apartment do you live in?") Eventually though, I started sensing...shall I say a slightly irritated tone in her voice as she answered it:

ring ring...
Zoe: **sigh** mumbling "Hello?"
phone:  extra cheerfully "DO YOU WANT TO COME OUTSIDE AND PLAY?"
Zoe:  mumbling  "Okay, fine"
click.............ring ring....
Zoe:  ****sigh and grumble***** "What?"
phone:  extra cheerfully "DO YOU WANT TO COME OUTSIDE AND PLAY?"
Zoe:  mumbling "No, thanks"
CRASH directly next to my right elbow where the phone had just landed...............ring ring....
Zoe:  "Mommy, will you get that?"
Me:  "I can't, I'm driving.  It's not safe to talk on the phone and drive."
ring ring.....
Zoe:  reluctantly "Alright, just hand it to me then......Hell-LO?"
etc. etc. etc.....

This went on, around and around, for a good five minutes.  I kept reminding her that it is a toy and that she could just NOT ANSWER IT but she just couldn't help herself.  It was hilarious.

Then today, we had to take a "snooze cruise" for Owen in between a meeting for work and a doctor's appointment for him and she and I had an awesome conversation.  We had about an hour to kill and she filled that hour with question after question, all starting with "Mommy, why did Mother Nature decide to...."  We covered more topics than you can imagine and I found myself a couple of times wishing I had access to Google right there in the car.   I'm not afraid to admit when I don't know something so I wasn't talking myself in circles trying to make up answers to questions like "Why did Mother Nature decide to make clouds?", "Why did Mother Nature decide to make people different colors?", "What IS Mother Nature?" or "How does Mother Nature make babies?" (that doozie was the one that started the whole conversation. Talk about straight out of the gate!) but I also don't want to say "I don't know" to everything so I gave most of them a shot.  I'm pretty proud of myself because I think I managed to walk that fine line between over-explaining and totally lying most of the time (yes, believe it or not the line is VERY don't realize that until your own kid starts sincerely asking you these kinds of questions) and only had to say "I don't know, we'll have to look that up together later" once!  I try not to put too much pressure on myself in those moments but I can't help but hear a little voice in the back of my head saying "Okay Mom, you're up!  You'd better not screw this up!"  I enjoyed it today though and could laugh at my stammering self right there in the moment, which is maybe why I ended up satisfied with most of the answers I gave.  For instance, I like to think she now has a basic, honest yet non pornographic understanding of how babies are made...a topic that terrifies every parent I've ever talked to. Of course the true test will come in a few days when she randomly blurts out what she got out of the conversation to her Daddy at dinnertime.  We'll see!

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