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When trauma and loss happen most of us know what to do. We know who to call, where to seek help and what we can (kind of) expect about the ways to cope. I guess we’re the ambulance chasers of our own experience.

But what happens to kids when life and all its catastrophes happen?

Catastrophes in a kids world can be big and small – they’re not proportional to ours. They have different meaning and the lens by which they explore them doesn’t match with the life lessons we’ve endured.

Centuries ago when I started working as child protection caseworker I did a whole lot of training on how to talk to kids, the ways to build rapport with a small person that had never laid eyes on you before. I cant imagine how scary that would be for a small person to be expected to bare their soul to someone – but I do know that being a place of safety for a kid overrides that fear of stepping into their lives for the first time.

Every Friday night my daughter and I drive a small distance to her dance class. We changed classes this year to a spot that was a few minutes walk away but I realised that in doing that I missed the chance to talk. Its funny to watch a 6 year old grappling with her identity, how quickly some kids are able to reflect on the who’s, whats and whys of their existence. In the driving to and fro we created chances for random, but meaningful conversation.

We started back at that place a little further away this term. As each Friday night looms I think of 1000 reasons why Id prefer to be at home with my Ugg boots on but once we’re set, when a small person has been dropped to his cousins and bigger girls are OK to wait for Dad to get home from work I relish in the talk of the journey.

Its been on these trips that Ive been able to explain divorce, explain the difference between Daddy and Dada, the reasons why its Ok to be married to 2 people (but hey not at the same time. This isn’t Dr Phil) and about what makes us happy and sad. Its not all drama, its all the places in between.

It was raining on Friday, the streetlights were bright and they smeared across the windscreen, the singing between her and I to songs that probably arent suited to a 6 year old were belted out. She cleared her throat and said ‘mum, tell me about you as a kid…do you think you were as funny as me?’.

Riding in cars with kids can create the chance to stare out the window and solve the dilemmas of the world.




Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. Isn’t it funny – as a kid most of the talking seemed to happen in the car. It seems to be the same with my husband and I now – and I know Roo is much chattier as well. Perhaps it’s because there are less distractions, more impetus to fill the silence and connect?
    Who knows, but it sounds as if that time with the two of you is very precious.

    • It also could be her girl genes…girls can talk until the cows come home – yesterday I got ‘explain adoption to me mum’. My son just yells ROAR from the backseat. Love your work Daisy x

  2. The forst term of high school I drove and picked up my son. It was such a lovely time, just him and me. I think the sitting side by side, not facing each other made a huge difference. We talked about so many things.
    Now, he catches public transport. It’s great for his independence, but I miss out driving time.

    • you’re right Naomi. Not looking at each other is the magic ingredient. Its funny to watch them staring out the window, not really sure of what they’re thinking or what question will come next. I also think it teaches them that silence is OK, that its necessary to let the mind wander. Thanks for visiting

  3. What a gorgeous post. Thanks Sarah! There’s something very special about conversations that happen in the car. It’s one of those magical “in between” moments, where you really can’t be anything but physically present. Those moments are getting rarer with all our crazy, technology-driven multi-tasking lives. It’s also special that you’re experiencing that “in between” moment TOGETHER. Because, of course, that’s the other thing – usually when you get an incidental quiet moment of just being physically present, you’re alone.

    Similarly, I’ve started going out on walks more with my husband and have found that we have completely different conversations to what we would have if we had been at home.

    • Thats so true…they are little spaces in between! I also have different chats with my man when we’re not coexisting in the house, I think long plane trips are the same. I used to work with a woman whose favourite part of her holiday was being on the plane – she didnt have to be anywhere, do anything, be on time or late, or wear shoes. She had to surrender. Its funny how everything is so focussed on the convenience of it all these days but all those things that save time make us more time poor. Nice seeing you here Rose x

  4. Long car chats are a beautiful thing – all snug as we are in our little whizzing cocoon. I hope you always talk together like this. x

  5. Hi!
    I am a social worker and we always talk about the truly meaningful chats that happen when we are not sitting opposite another person; along side them in the car, doing a task side by side like the dishes. Same goes for kids and family methinks. Lovely post and congratulations on your 100th! x

    • Thanks Lee. I think my skills as a social worker have really been cemented since becoming a mum – so much you can apply from what you learn from interacting with others. Thanks for stopping by x

  6. I love the chatter from the backseat as my 2 yr old bares her sole. We also belt out a few tunes possibly not appropriate. However I had never thought of it as an opportunity to discuss important issues. We do use it as a time to discuss left and right which I guess could be considered an important issue at the age of 2.

    • Ahhh the left and rights at 2 are big issues! My boy is almost 2 and we spend a lot of time pointing out red buses…well, they are red to him!


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Mental health, Parenting


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