All parents know that some of the best conversations with kids occur in the car. Here’s one I just had with my 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter as we drove down Interstate 78.
Him: “Mom, have you had any dates lately? You should get a boyfriend. If you’re having trouble you could use one of those dating websites.”
Me: (Choking) “Ha!” How do you know about dating websites?”
Him: “I heard about them on cartoons.” (What cartoons is he watching?)
Me: “Well, I go on dates sometimes, but I haven’t found a boyfriend.”
Him: “But you go out with LOTS of different people. In order to get a boyfriend you need to go out with the same one over and over.” (Uhhhh….)
Her: “Mama, you should really get married. But you need a boyfriend to get married.”
Me: “You mean I shouldn’t just marry any random person?”
Her: “That sounds like a bad idea.”
Him to Her: “She’s being sarcastic!”
Her: “I didn’t know!”
Me: “Why should I get married?”
Him: “Because we’ve never been to a wedding. And I want to be the best man!” (Duh.)
Her: “And I want to be the ring bear.” (Teddy or Grizzly?)
Him: “No. You have to be the one that throws the flowers…”
Me: “What kind of B.S. is that? (Okay, I actually said bullshit) She can be whatever she wants to be!” (In my fictional wedding…)
Her: “I want to carry the rings.”
Me: “Well, you know I might never get married again. Not everyone gets married.”
Her: “I want you to be married!”
Me: “Well… I haven’t found anyone I want to marry. And you know, maybe some of the people I go out with don’t want to marry ME.”
Him: “Why wouldn’t they want to marry you?” (Indeed.)
Me: “For lots of reasons. For one thing, some people I go out with don’t like the fact that I live with your Papa.”
Me: “Yes. Some people think that if I’m their girlfriend then I shouldn’t live with my ex-husband.”
Him: (Incredulous) “Well do you TELL them you want to live with your KIDS???”
Me: “Yes. But some people don’t understand. Others do. I guess the ones who don’t understand aren’t the right match for me anyway.”
Him: “Yeah. The ones that DO understand seem better than the ones that don’t.”
Our conversation then transferred to the house. The kids were talking all about the ceremony… saying if we had it at the house it would be free… talking about the food and the music… They talked about the vows, with my daughter suggesting that as the best man my son would be the one to lead us (who is US?) through them. We talked a bit about traditions and about different ways things could be done. I tried to explain about the place where I got married to their dad and they were confused by my use of the word “cabin” (it was really a lodge in upstate New York) and I finally asked if they wanted to see our wedding album.
They really liked looking at it. My son said “Mom, your dress was REALLY pretty.” (Awwww… so sweet… but never fear, he’s about to ruin it). He also thought the cake was pretty. Then I said “Wow look at how young I look.” And then HE said “If you just lost a couple of pounds you’d STILL look like that.” (Ahem.)
My daughter looked for a long time at the picture of me and her dad kissing. She said “That’s when you were really married.” She didn’t want me to turn the page, which made me feel a little sad.
But she spent a long time looking at the other pages too, while my son kept making comments like “why are you looking at every page for so long?” and “this is going to go on forever,” and “I could have gotten through this album in half the time!”
My daughter wanted to know who each person in the pictures was… whether her grandpa was sick yet during the wedding… if she and her brother were in my tummy when the pictures were taken or if they were “floating in space”… and a million other things about the people, the place, and the time when we got married.
Later that night she said she wished we had a time machine so we could go back in time and she could be there for our wedding. I wasn’t sure what to say in response to that. I went to bed that night wondering whether her desire to be there would be less intense if her dad and I were still together. Or whether it might be even stronger. I’m still not sure…
Postscript: The day after I finished writing this post I happened to catch a scene from one of the shows my kids were watching. One of the characters said: “We could sign him up for one of those dating websites for people who have no hope.” Well.