“Don’t make me pull this car over!”
I bet you’re picturing your dad driving the family station wagon and shouting this over his shoulder at the peak of lost sanity while on a family trip. Or maybe fast forward, and it’s your own carload of kids!
In the world of classic dad moves, this one might be boss.
My husband pulled this move recently.
Except, this cool cat put such a beautiful, modern, mindful dad twist on it.
First came a long full day of family fun in the water, lots of sun, and lots of tired kids. Then came loading them all up into the van to drive home. Next came whining, arguing, somebody’s elbow bumping somebody’s knee (apparently that is just not OK), and total frustration and lost sanity for my husband and me.
Finally, that classic dad phrase slipped from my husband’s lips: “Don’t make me pull this car over!”
Well, they did. Make him pull that car over.
He pulled the van safely to the side of the road. I looked at him, as something about his vibe was telling me to hold back on the high-volume lecture I was about to launch into with the kids.
He just sat there completely quiet.
I decided to see how this played out and I stayed quiet too. The kids were not quiet. But after a few minutes of sitting in that unmoving vehicle with unspeaking parents, they got the message and . . . silence.
Then he spoke. He never raised his voice. Everything about him was calm. He simply said, “I’d like each of you to tell me something about today that made you smile.”
It took a few minutes for the kids to pull themselves together. One kiddo in particular was really stuck on needing to be right in the argument that landed us pulled over in the first place. So we waited. And eventually, all four voices answered with a memory from the day that made them smile.
Daddy Yoda went on. “Now, think back on the day and describe a moment you noticed someone else smile.”
The kids were really starting to come along at this point. We had longer, more complete answers. They were listening to each other’s responses. They were eager to share.
Finally, he hit them with, “How did it make you feel to smile today, and to see someone else smile?”
This man managed to take full chaos in our car, four little attitudes that were completely disconnected from the blessings of our day, and very calmly shift all the energy to gratefulness.
He closed out his take on this classic dad move with a quiet talk about letting our behavior in the car reflect the gratitude in our hearts. He pulled back onto the road.
Was our car ride perfectly peaceful the rest of the way? Of course not. We’re six very real and imperfect humans.
But was there a teachable moment? Was it far improved? Were these kids just given a beautiful example of responding with calm in the midst of crazy?
Did these kids just participate in a practice of shifting their upset states to ones of thanks?
A whole lot of yes.
Did I fall even further in love with this mindful father and his kick*** slide tackle of a classic dad move?
Yep. You bet.