I know. There’s clearly something wrong with her.
Some of my worst memories of my childhood school days are from the school bus.
There was the bully who would steal my stocking cap everyday (probably a crude form of flirting, but who knows that in third grade?). Then there was the tragic makeover my Aqua Net-plastered Farrah Fawcett ‘do would receive after 20 minutes in the yellow wind tunnel. Or I could tell you about the time my spiral notebook caught the hem of my dress as I was getting off the bus – a fact I didn’t realize until the giggles and stares of about 50 “sympathetic” classmates clued me in. I could go on, but it’s too painful (sniff).
But Molly, my wildly social child, loves the chatter and excitement of the school bus. So she was none too pleased when her mama told her that she would be driving her to school from now on.
Up until middle school, I had always driven Molly to school. I was continually amazed at all the juicy information I would learn in that short car trip. Something about being trapped in an enclosed space – without all the distractions of life – forces conversations and interaction that would never take place otherwise.
When she hit middle school, she wanted to be like all the other neighborhood kids and ride the bus. Almost immediately, I felt like a vital cord of communication was cut. And at a time when hormones were already making rational conversations with her quite a daunting challenge anyway.
So, I risked her adolescent wrath and informed her morning social time would be with her mother. She was thrilled.
Molly: So you’re forcing me to spend time with you? Really? This ought to be fun.
And it first it wasn’t. Our relationship was already rocky at the time and, frankly, the thought of more time together didn’t exactly give me goosebumps either. But I knew more distance was not the answer. I knew I had to jump into the shark tank and pray I survived.
Now, almost a year later, I count that morning time together as some of my best times with her. Besides much prayer, I credit that “forced” interaction as one of the most important tools in cracking that tough teenage shell and improving our relationship.
I know many of you are years away from the teenage years, but set the patterns now of spending regular one-on-one time with each of your children. Don’t let go of that as they get older – even when they begin moving away.
It will be the foundation that God will use to help you weather the bumpy, wild ride of adolescence.
* This post first appeared a few weeks ago as a guest column on Cate's Real Life With Kids blog. After a week with the flu, I'm having a hard time forming a coherent thought, but I thought you might enjoy this until all my brain cells start firing again.