I try hard to be present and engaged when my children are around and most of the time I do a good job of avoiding screens and reading. (I get to engrossed in a novel to pay them any attention, so I try to read during nap times and at night.) This means limited texting, no playing computerized games, no writing, and no reading novels. These rules help me be a better parent, one who enjoys spending time with her three children.
However, when I get into a car, I tend to mentally disengage, which is fine when all three are together, but it stinks when it’s only the two year-old and me. I feel bad and try to stay involved by pointing out numbers, colors, and animals, but without fail my mind wanders and I often find that we’ve spent our time in silence. Even with The Wiggles playing and me singing, I still drift away. I can’t help it. Every time I get behind the steering wheel, my characters take over, plot points are worked out, and new stories are invented. I’ve tried to shoo the voices and scenes away, but inevitably they return and are screaming to be heard. I feel like a certified schizo.
Don’t worry too much about my children. Over the last few years, I’ve learned to check out of my head and check-in with my kids at least once during our car rides. But if you are ever a passenger in my car, just know that to me you really aren’t there at all.