Car Talk

December 3, 2007

Love the NPR show by the same name, but this post is about the chatter in our own car. It's not a new phenomena. I remember having some of the more intense or uncomfortable conversations of my youth while in the car. Something about the intimate space, the lack of direct eye contact, the confinement while waiting to reach a destination makes it an easier space to ask questions and to speak more openly. As a child, I remember both initiating and responding to these car talks. I remember sitting in the back seat working up my courage to bring up a question that had been on my mind. And I remember the intense desire to ignore topics that felt way too awkward, but which I knew my parents had been carefully crafting into what would appear to be a casual conversation like those about the "facts of life". And now as a parent I am once again experiencing this dual role of initiator and respondant.

In the past year, our car has become the place where most of my most intense exchanges take place with Noah. He has started most of them with questions. Little zingers that seem to pop into his head like "When are you going to die?" . Or this little conversation he started with Camille last week:

Noah: "Camille, I was grown in a tummy and then born, but you were adopted".
Mama: "Actually, Noah you both grew in tummies. You grew in my tummy and Camille grew in her Taiwan mama's tummy"
Noah: "Well, why didn't her mama keep her after she came out of her belly?"
Mama: (frozen...trying to come up with the perfect response to this big question...stumbling..pausing) "Camille's Taiwan mama loved her very much but she couldn't take care of her"
Noah: "Why? Was she sick? If you get sick, will we go to a new family?"
Mama: (UGH, heart pounding, don't screw this up, stammer) "You will always be in our family. We will always take care of you and Camille. If I get sick..."
Noah: "Mama, look at that garbage truck!" (and the conversation ends as suddenly as it began)

Or yesterday's little car talk:
Noah: "Am I going to move again?"
Mama: (he must be getting nervous about another military move...must have heard me tell someone we move every three years) "Well,
Noah : "I mean will have to move to another family?"
Mama: (oh, he's not talking about military moves, he's talking about adoption.) "Noah you will always be in our family. You aren't going to live with another family"
Noah: "No, I mean when I get grown up. Like why don't you live with your mama and daddy anymore?"
Mama: "Well, that's because when I got big I fell in love and married your Daddy. And we had to move because of the Navy. But maybe when you get big, you will still near us. Would you like that?"
Noah: "Yes"

I know there will be many more car talks. I sometimes wish there was some way to "prepare" for them, but I guess that is part of the whole thing...the intimacy, the spontaneity, and the authenticity.
Melissa said...

Heh. I love kids. You seem to be handling things just fine, though. :) Happy Hanukkah!

Corinne said...

I read that first conversation out loud to my sister just now. WOAH those are questions that stop any mommy in their tracks. You do so great!! It reminds me of the time that 3 year old Sheely and I were in the silent but full social security office waiting room and she says to me, in her loud three year old voice "Mommy, where do babies come from??"

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