New rules for the ride

“Do you want to be right or would you rather be happy?” So goes the saying, which I’m certain you’ve said to yourself many a time as a parent.

But what about being right AND happy? I’d sometimes like to take one for the team and wind up winning both prizes. And I’ve decided to try out this strategy when it comes to one of my many thankless summer jobs, also known as shuttling around a car full of kids.

I’m setting the car bar high: No hand held screens, no ear buds, no attitude. Wish me luck!

I’m given this a great deal of thought. I’m in the thick of it—I have two girls, aged 15 and 12, and a 5-year-old boy. As if their ages and genders don’t create enough challenge, their varied interests often widen the chasm. I remain the common thread that weaves them together and I’m also The Chauffeur, the unpaid and untipped Uber of the family. I spend hours on a weekly (and often daily) basis, shuttling them around.

I consider myself a fan of under-scheduling. But life and school activities have been numerous this year and I’ve increasingly found myself spending hours driving around my normally polite children, who, once in the car, won’t give me the time of day. Asking the naive and simplistic, “How was your day? Anything funny or stupid happen?” often encourages whole-body sighs, eye rolls, choruses of “Fine” and the occasional, “Stop!”

I’m done with that. I will no longer be driving these Daisies under the current regime.

Unbeknownst to my brood, the first day of summer will also bring forth a new set of rules with their free car rides: Screen free, baby! If there’s one thing I know, it’s that boredom often encourages creativity. And these kids are gonna need to band together and find things that they can collectively do.

Recently, the Hamilton soundtrack has been popular in my home. Aside from the daily vicious audition process regarding who gets to voice Angelica, Eliza or Hamilton, the kids often fall into some sort of unspoken role assignment and eventually camaraderie ensues.

I know summer is long, but there are many incredible soundtracks out there. I’m happy to keep iTunes in business, as long as the kids are waving their screen-free hands in the air.

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