I’m driving my daughters to school through a windswept city. The storm last night was long and loud and its effects are everywhere, from turned over bins to broken branches. The traffic is moving slowly.
On the radio, a presenter reads a list of bleak news headlines. Britain, with its large Muslim population, is still parsing the consequences of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France. Ahead of May’s general election, the main UK political parties are making economic promises. Two climbers have scaled a 3,000ft mountain in America without aids.
The girls yawn – tired from a night of listening to roaring gales – and ask for pop music.
“I’m trying to listen,” I say. “I’m trying to figure out what to write about today.” “What do you mean?” asks Grace, who recently turned 13.
“I have to write an article for World Moms Blog. What do you think I should write about?”
“I think you should tell them that I’m 13,” says Grace.
From the back seat Betty, who is 5, says: “I think you should write – ‘Dear World Cup – ‘ “
“Not World Cup, you idiot!” interposes Grace, who at 13 takes offence often, now. “Don’t call her an idiot,” I tell her, and steer around a large chunk of tree on the road.
To Betty I explain:
“It’s not the World Cup, darling. It’s a website for World Mums to write about their lives.”
“Oh, okay,” says Betty. “Then you should write: ‘Dear World Mums – ‘”
“It’s not a letter!” splutters Grace, who by now a really rather indignant 13-year-old.
“Go on Betty,” I say.
Betty clears her throat and gives Grace a glare, then says, “I think you should write – ‘Dear World Mums, in all of your countries, the world is not just about your countries.’”
Grace opens her mouth to protest again. I shush her.
“- it’s also about lots of planets,” Betty continues. “For example, there’s Kewpicker – “
My eyes meet Grace’s. She mouths: “Jupiter.” “ – and there’s the Moon. And – there are all the stars,” Betty ends with a flourish.
“I see,” I say. “And what do you think is out there among all those planets?”
“Well, there’s aliens, and lots of dark, and lots of rocks,” answers Betty, ticking the answers off on her fingers. “And you have to be very careful not to take your space hat off, cos then you won’t be able to breathe.”
Grace sits up, interested now.
“I used to want to be an astronaut. But then I saw that film, Gravity, and thought – no way!”
“Really? Why?” “Because it was so scary! I realised how dangerous and difficult it is!”
“Yes,” I nod. “But she – the astronaut – still succeeded, didn’t she? How did that bit make you feel?”
“Well….” Grace scrunches up her face and considers. “It was cool that she was a woman. And I suppose it made me feel like it’s worth trying really hard. And that sometimes you have to see past how frightening and difficult things can be, and just keep going.”
There’s a moment’s silence in the car. I look at Grace and smile at her and she smiles back at me, and sits back in her chair, pleased with the thought. I can see her turning it over while we drive in silence for a few moments.
Then, from Betty: “Pleeeeeeeese can we have some songs now, Mummy?”
I turn the dial and a current favourite bursts out of the speakers, all horns and funky guitars and a silly, strutting lyrics. Immediately the girls both start singing along.
When it’s finished, Betty asks: “Do you think there’s music in space?”
What profound moments have come from your fun conversations with your kids?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophie Walker of the United Kingdom.
I actually just added a section in my blog called Morganisms for these type of car conversations 😉
Walking to school we have these kind of conversations. They start with silliness and then they once in a while they say something jaw-droppingly insightful. Those are great moments.
My son once asked on his way to school, ” Mom, if we were to be put on a different planet, like here, except with nothing on, and we’d have to re-build civilization, what would we do differently?” I still cannot fathom an answer, there are way too many ramifications to this one single question! But I am working on it! Maybe a post? I love your post, Sophie, it’s cute and touching.
Wonderful post! And a needed uplifting read among so many tough stories happening. I find my children offer wisdom in these spontaneous moments, and I just eat it up! It’s so important to stop and listen to what our kids have to say, because they often have the best insights.
“…the world is not just about your countries.” — I love this. You are raising 21st century thinkers!! If they can dream it, they can do it! Crazy to think that space travel could be a reality for our children…mind blowing!!
I laughed out loud about Gravity, because that is what I was thinking the entire movie: I am not going to space, ever!
But I love what she said about that it’s worth trying really hard, it is actually something that I really need to remind myself of lately.