I got caught behind a “Sunday driver” the other day. Doesn’t he realize that, in the words of Gershwin, we “live life in staccato not legato?” We live life on a freeway, not a country trail. Our days are consumed with rushing from one thing to the next, dodging obstacles in the road, and bypassing any construction sites that might slow us down. We don’t have time to sit and enjoy one another’s company, let alone quietly stroll down the country path of life and smell the proverbial roses. We live frenetic, hyperactive lives filled with school, sports, and work. We have to keep up with a constant flood of informational billboards and “pop-ups” that encourage our children to grow up faster and fuels our desire for better, more, and new. We weave through a highway of overscheduled days jam-packed with activities and unrealistic expectations. We cruise through life in a constant state of tiredness and low-grade agitation. Late bloomers don’t have time to grow up. We just pray they “grow faster.” Sports enthusiasts know that a child must participate in year-round conditioning in order to “keep up with the rest of the Jones’s.” Otherwise, they may not get to play when the season arrives. Cell phones, texting, and tweeting allow for 24/7 availability and a constant anticipation of potential interruptions. Don’t worry when you get the text…no pressure, just respond as soon as you can…unless you don’t like me or something happened that I need to worry about. And, keep the message short because I am very busy speeding down the highway of life. Whew, I’m getting tired just writing about it.
Still, here I sit behind a Sunday driver. As I complain about him slowing me down, I suddenly realize my family is in the car with me—well, one is listening to their IPod, one is reading a book, and one is looking at magazines. Still, we are all together and I have time to kill behind “Mr. Sunday Driver.” “Aye guys,” I say hesitantly. Everyone stops. Mouths hang open in stunned astonishment that someone in the car made an open statement. “How was your week?” I ask. A moment of awkward silence…followed by, “Well, I had a pretty good week I guess.” “Oh yeah?” My hopes for a conversation rise as I continue, “What did you do?” Slowly, my family begins to talk. My daughter likes science. My other daughter is enjoying a new book. They both like their teachers. My wife really enjoyed the concert we went to last night. In fact, everyone did. The conversation grows and the excitement seems to build. We start having a good time…with each other. This conversation is fun. This slow ride behind “Mr. Sunday Driver” is OK. Sitting behind that Sunday driver is not so bad after all. Maybe I should get out of the car at the next light and thank him for the best family conversation I’ve had all week.
P.S.—here are some suggestions to help you slow down and enjoy a “Sunday drive” with your family. If you have more ideas, please share them with us all.
—Eat dinner together and talk. Keep the cell phones away from the table to avoid interruptions.
–Turn off the TV’s, computers, and phones while you enjoy an evening of games and informal conversations. Do it once a week if possible.
–Limit extracurricular activities to no more than two at a time. And, as you schedule activities don’t forget to consider the impact of travel time and the impact on siblings who are not involved with that activity.
—Go outside tonight, sit in the yard, and look at the stars together. Find the “Big Dipper” and “Orion.”