Along the road
Back-to-school means back-to-traffic. It’s crazy how bad the traffic is in most places on the first day of school term. As a parent sitting amongst the exhaust fumes this morning watching the sixteenth taxi pass you on the pavement, I wonder if you were tempted, just for a moment, to reconsider you child’s schooling. Education’s not that important is it? And besides, not driving to school would help to save the icecaps, as well as your precious time.
But of course, education is vital for your child (so sorry, traffic is inevitable) but I wonder if you’ve considered: so is that time spent in the car with them. Far from being a waste of precious time, it is in fact an incredible opportunity each morning to invest in the life of your child, often for an uninterrupted 20-30 minutes. An opportunity that the fast pace of life doesn’t often give us. An opportunity to just talk, about important stuff – about life and the world and people. I know for my own children, the most valuable conversations have often been had in the car, and often sparked by something they see out the window. “Mom, why is that man asking for money?” “Dad, who decides when the sun comes up?”. Incredible moments to have some of the most foundational conversations in your child’s life.
God told his people in ancient times to use daily opportunities to talk with their children about the most important things in life: who God is and all he’s revealed to us in creation and in his word. In Deuteronomy 6 God says “Talk with your children [about these things] when you sit at home and when you walk along the road”. We might not do much walking on the road any more, but we sure do a lot of sitting in the car. The same principle applies to us today – to deliberately use those times to talk with our children about the things that matter. Things they probably won’t learn at school, but that are in fact far more important than the things they will.
But it takes an effort to do that. It doesn’t happen automatically. It means switching off the radio, looking in the rear-view mirror at your child, and asking “what are you thinking about?”. It means reading a bible verse before you get in the car and talking about it on the way to school. It means realizing the opportunity that traffic gives us and not letting it slip by, because those conversations will likely stick in your child’s mind long after you’ve forgotten them.