It never fails, I sit in the carpool line and wait for my kids to jump in the car and when they get in, they clam up. My first words are, "Hi Pumpkin, how was your day". I get the same answer every day - Good. I then ask, "What did you do?" They say, "not much". I finally stopped asking easy questions. I learned to throw them off to be sure they were really listening, "Did you see anything magical today?" "What caused you to smile today?"
Like us, after 7 hours of playing and thinking, kids need time to decompress. While we are
excited to hear about their adventures, I've also learned that it's more fun when it comes out over dinner or when kissing them goodnight. So, I try to find one odd question to ask in the car and then another at the dinner table. What they need most is to know we are interested and willing to listen when they are ready to tell us about their day.
If your kids have cell phones you might consider a "no phone" policy for the first part of your drive or when you are leaving school. Most kids will immediately jump on their phones to text their friends or to see what's happening on social media. The valuable captured car time (time they can't get away from you) ends up being consumed by their phones.
Naturally we want to hear about their day but we also want to know if there are pressing feelings or problems that they are afraid to tell us or maybe just insecure about. It's much easier for kids (and this goes for teenagers as well) to talk to us when there is a space for them to talk, when there are not distractions and when they know we are there to just listen and not "fix".
I'm putting a list of my favorite oddball questions below. Feel free to copy these and let me know how your kids respond.
1. What was the best thing someone said to you today?
2. Was there anyone you wanted to give a hug to today?
3. If you drew everything that came to your head, what would you be drawing
4. What do you think you're going to dream about when your head hits the pillow tonight?
5. What sound made you laugh today?
6. What did you see outside that made you appreciate God's creations today?
7. What did you create today?
8. What made today great?
9. What made you smile today?
10. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Think outside of normal conversations. The odd questions may have them rolling their eyes but it gets things started and can even lead to some fun ideas and thoughts.
Carpool moments can be some of the best for bonding if you make the most of it.