Paid automotive transportation is pretty simple. You hop in the backseat of a cab, share the address where you are going and aren’t required to speak any longer until you arrive at your destination and pay the driver. The same primary rules apply to taking an Uber or Lyft.
The unwritten rules have been in place for some time. Your trade-off for taking paid transportation is a ride in the backseat, where you don’t have control over the music, the temperature of the car, the route the driver takes or how fast the trip takes, not even the amount of cologne your driver wears. You can put on your seat belt and roll down the window, but that’s about it. Benefits for this mode of transportation are that you don’t have to worry about the car, gas, parking or anything having to do with the vehicle or the driver. Paid transport, in a nutshell, yes?
But, you dear child, are in the front seat of the family car, sitting next to me. You have all of the “luxuries” at your disposal; your phone, backpack, sports or dance bag are at your feet. You have your water bottle, and you are free to choose music, blast the AC, and get comfortable, while I drive you to your destination. You might even have friends along for the ride. No charge for any of this because I am your mom.
We live in an age of school carpools, traveling to and from afterschool activities, plus some tutoring and volunteering peppered in here and there. The weekend means more of the same. I am in the car for at least six hours a day with both kids, starting when school ends and ending at nine when the last class or practice ends. Phones have captured your attention, and it’s difficult to converse with you, much less get more than one-word answers even when we are outside of the car. But in the car, it seems as if you are following the guidelines for paid transportation. If that is the case, and I am now a “paid” driver, I am the most grossly underpaid Uber driver on earth. I receive neither fare, tip nor commendation. You must be confused.
This lack of acknowledgment for services rendered leads me to set some ground rules for riding in my car, which by the way, are pretty straightforward, just like paid transportation.
- My driving you to and fro is not a business transaction. I know being a teen isn’t the most comfortable time in your life but it will get better, and I won’t be here forever. It would make me happy if when you ride in my car, my cherubs, I’d like you to be present.
- You are riding in the front seat and are approaching a time when driving yourself places will become a reality sooner rather than later. Take in the surroundings, note how we are getting from point A to point B. It will come in handy for you in the future.
- I don’t want to look over and see you on your phone, playing a game, watching a video or texting. Nor should you have earbuds in your ears. You owe me the courtesy of speaking to me, answering questions now and then and perhaps inquiring about my day too. It’s called a conversation.
I share the new rules with my kids. Of course, it isn’t that easy to enforce these new laws in the beginning. I’ve got one child who will quickly put her phone down but will follow that with introducing me to her music blasted throughout the car. Fine, I’ll take it. My son is another story. Questions come in rapid succession: “How many miles is it to practice?” “Can’t I just finish this text?” “Why can’t I ride my bike in the dark?” “How much does an Uber cost?” My answers: Five miles; NO, because I’d worry; $100 for an Uber, you can’t afford it.
Nowadays, when we’re in the car, and I see a phone, all I have to say is, “This isn’t an Uber.” I still get an attitude, but we speak to one another, too. Win!