Yesterday, I got a Zipcar to pick up the 10-year-old at my parents house in the suburbs. On the walk to the Zipcar parking spot, the 8-year old negotiated a chance to play with my phone in the car. His excuse: “we never ride in cars, won’t you let me play games on your phone while we’re in traffic?”
It’s hard for me to resist that sweet boy at times, and he had a point, we would be stuck in traffic for awhile.
Later I found it kind of interesting that while playing with the phone, he chose to snap this photo to document something that seemed odd from his perspective: his mom at the wheel of an automobile.
That was my first clue that the mobility choices we’ve made in the past few years had really changed our kids’ attitudes about typical transportation.
After dinner, we headed to a big box store with a red bullseye for a logo. A rented car for the evening = great excuse to go to the mall and stock up on giant packages of toilet paper that would normally take up too much space on the bike.
As we drove into the parking lot the kids’ excitement escalated. I’m talking about over-the-top excitement. Like weird, hyper, this-is-kind-of-freaky excitement. It completely caught me off guard. They were squealing and pointing at stores and exclaiming the names of them all followed by, “I want to go in there”!
Who are these children, I wondered? Have they been living in a cave?
When I asked them why they were so excited, they both said, “we’re in a car and we’re at a mall. COOL!”
But then, in case there was any doubt as to who was responsible for this state of affairs, they spelled it out for me. “We don’t have a car, mom; we’re not normal”.
My first response was a little too fierce and maybe a tad defensive, too.
“Of course we’re normal! Who says we’re not normal?”
And then I thought about it for a few seconds and grinned. They’re completely right, we’re not normal.
So, I went on to lecture anyway (the kids love that term) about how we’d be perfectly “normal” in other parts of the world where most people don’t do everything by car. We’re just not normal here.
When we started this whole CarFreeDays thing, it was to give us a break from being behind the wheel all the time, and to give them a break from being strapped into carseats all the time. Sure, we wanted to drive less than we had been, but neither of us suspected then we’d been depriving our kids of their American-given right to drive and shop at big box stores with all the “normal” people.
While this wasn’t my first taste of kid disapproval about our transportation choices, it did make me jump ahead a few years and wonder how teenage rebellion will manifest itself in our family. Kent Peterson has written about carfree kids transitioning to adulthood before; do any other of you “abnormal” families out there have thoughts on the subject?
I’m not sure what the future will bring but it’s sure to be interesting!