It’s like a blast of sound when all three of my children get into the car each afternoon. From the tranquillity of sitting in virtual silence, pondering life or reading an iBook…in they come. Boom!
Actually it’s less of a blast of sound and more like a zillion chattering birds. And I love how they always try to talk to me all at once. Do they see I only have one set of ears? Do they see?
I have three children: Philip, 12, Giovanni, 9 and Caterina, 7. They have a lot of thoughts about everything, but as with every family hierarchy, my eldest gets to share his thoughts more often than the others, and we don’t always drive long enough for the younger ones to get their turn. But not today.
Today we’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of us so hopefully they’ll get time to talk. Once the chatter has died down and we all begin to relax in a way we only do when we are all back together again, I just concentrate on driving the car, and listen…
Except nobody is saying a word and soon I realise why.
“Maybe Mum will turn left,” my daughter whispers and I realise my suddenly silent children are playing Pokémon Go!
They know better than to actually ask me to turn left, they just unite in their desire for me to do so, but quickly move on to another goal when I drive straight instead. To swimming, to art class, to the shops to pick up something for dinner. Driving, driving, driving, but together.
“Today my teacher told me that I am one of the most well-behaved in the whole entire class,” Caterina, 7, proudly tells me after collecting more Pokeballs and targeting another character on her map.
Before I can ever praise her as I often do, my oldest son Philip, 12, comes out with this.
“That’s good, Kitty, but when you get older nobody likes the kids who just do what they are meant to do all the time.”
Not knowing whether to chastise him I choose to stifle laughter instead and just listen.
"So it's good to get in trouble?" That from my ever-wise Giovanni.
"Kind of," says the-world-according-to-Philip, "like if you did everything your teacher told you to do you wouldn't get to talk to your friends at all during class."
Caterina, now clearly on the back foot after expecting praise but receiving useful cool-factor feedback instead, says, "But I talk to my friends during play time, when I am supposed to," she tells her older brother.
"Yeah, Philip," I decide to contribute to the conversation. "During play time when you are supposed to."
And there it is, my 40th eye roll of the day. Sure I didn't actually see him roll his eyes because I am concentrating on the road, but I felt it.
And Giovanni, my quiet little boy just listens, and I know he's learning all sorts of things. On particularly long drives, like today, he might even say something. But his contribution is normally a reiteration of the conversation thus far, which is so incredibly cute.
"So, Philip," he begins, "You're saying that you should do what you are supposed to do at school but not all the time? Just sometimes."
Did I also mention he is very literal?
"Yeah," Philip says, having lost interest in the conversation already, giving his little sister the chance to jump in. "So Giovanni, you do what you are supposed to do in class and talk to your friends just during play time so you don't get into trouble, unless you want to be cool, but then you'll get in trouble."
And that's it. I can't help it.
That's when I burst out laughing.
What have you overheard your kids talking about in the car?
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