“How do cars go?”
“Could I sit on a cloud?”
“What happens to my poop when I flush it down the toilet?’
For the last three years, I have driven either one or both of my kids to and from daycare five days a week. Roughly seven and a half hours each week shuttling between our house in the suburbs to downtown. In that time I have answered (or attempted to answer) 976,324 random questions, mediated countless arguments and listened to “Mashed Potato” by The Wiggles more times than should be legally allowed under the Geneva Convention.
Today, however, marked Kate and Matthew’s last day at daycare. Jen will be staying home with the kids as Matthew gets ready to start Kindergarten, so I will be making the trek to work by myself for the first time in years.
And it makes me….sad.
Will I miss the floor of our car looking like a bad day at the Nabisco factory or me reaching blindly under the backseat to retrieve a dropped stuffed animal while I drive on the interstate? No. Although that is closest thing I probably get to exercise these days.
But for forty minutes in the morning and forty minutes in the afternoon I get to hear about their day, answer a bunch of silly questions, listen to Kate sing, and force them to listen to (and enjoy) music that will be sure to keep them out of touch with their peers for years to come.
Sure, every once in a while you need to get off the highway to take them to pee in a truck stop bathroom only to have them tell you that they no longer need to go. But where else can you have your son call out a grizzled truck driver for not washing his hands, and have a Hell’s Angels reject tell your kids that “most people are basically disgusting.” Thank you Mr. Biker Man. A solid life lesson.
I’m sure that, in time, I will learn to love the quiet time again, but for now I will feel a little twinge of loneliness when I see the billboard featuring the picture of a balding, 60-year-old insurance salesman who my kids swear looks just like me.
Most of all, this last ride reminds me of all of the little endings that are such a big part of being a parent. It is so easy to focus on the last time your kids will need you to change their diaper, or ride on your shoulders or want you to tuck them in that it can be easy to overlook the little beginnings.
Matthew, Kate, Jen and I are all beginning a new part of our lives, and it is important to stop and enjoy that and not just fixate on the end of something else.
Does anybody want a Wiggles CD?