I officially own a hooptie. My 2001 Honda Odyssey is on its last legs. I lost one key fob, and Jack ate the other one [he didn't actually ingest it; he just gnawed it to death a few years ago], so I have to manually unlock and open the doors. The kids' door no longer opens with the mere flick of a handle, as in the van's former glory days. No, now you have to yank and pull with all your might, grinding gears fighting against you. The faint smell of van stank (click to see previous post) ever lingers in the air despite many cleaning attempts (personal and professional). The check engine light is constantly aglow, since the transmission is slowly but surely slipping. There are a myriad of other warning lights illuminated so that the dashboard resembles a Christmas tree. It's quite festive.
But the real kicker is that the radio doesn't work. Hasn't for about a year now. When it first went out, I was distraught. The radio was my sanity. Kids screaming in the backseat? Crank it up a notch or two (or six). Rough day? Listen to some praise music. Long trip? Pop in a book on CD. For months after it went out, I found myself constantly reaching for the dial. It was second nature.
I'm used to its absence now. In fact, I enjoy it. Here's why:
1. Silence is golden. There is very little silence in our world anymore. In my world, there is next to none. So an evening drive to Kroger (sans radio) allows me uninterrupted time to think or just be.
2. Travel conversations with the kids are crucial. As they age, and school days lengthen, my time with them becomes less and less. Add in friends and extracurricular activities, and suddenly, my influence in their lives is diminished. Important, yes, but smaller. So I cherish our time in the van. It's a great time to catch up, to hear about their thoughts, joys, concerns, and to [hopefully] impart some wisdom. (Deuteronomy 11:19)
3. Finally, storytelling! My own mom is a fantastic storyteller. When I was little she would weave intricate tales about children (bearing a striking resemblance to my brother and me) or giants or fairies or trolls or forest creatures. Each story was very detailed, filled with sights, sounds, and smells that made my imagination run wild. These days, I have the privilege to continue that legacy.
Don't get me wrong, there are many times when the question: "Mommy, can you tell us a story?" makes me groan aloud. But I'm glad they ask. I'm glad they listen. I love to look in the rearview mirror and see the hint of grin playing on their lips and a faraway look in their eyes as they are transported to a magical land and introduced to a fairy.
Today the fairy was a hat maker. She was quite perturbed with the humans who were stomping around in her bluebonnet patch. She had grown these flowers specifically for her fairy customers all around the world, and these clumsy, loud, picture-taking giants were destroying her handiwork. Luckily, with the help of three kind children [Caleb is too young to care about having a role in the stories] she was able to gather the materials necessary to make fairy dresses instead. The fairy rewarded these sweet children with a magical cloak which allowed them to enter into fairyland whenever they wished.
We didn't miss the radio for a second today!