A SHARP LIFE: Quality time in the family car

Nothing makes you feel younger than raising small humans. Also, nothing makes you feel older than raising small humans. Allow me to explain.

Our family tends to spend a lot of quality time in our minivan. (That sentence would have completely mortified 20-year-old Aaron, but 40-year-old Aaron is just happy the vehicle gets everyone from point A to point B successfully.) Sometimes we all have fun in the van. Most of the time the kids make an appalling mess. Sometimes it is unbearably loud. Most of the time I ponder creating a “cone of silence” that can be implemented in vehicles. Sometimes we have interesting conversations. Often the Zoologist uses van time as an opportunity to interrogate his mother and me about a variety of subjects. More often than not, we do all of the above in one trip.

This week, while the 4-year-old Ballerina was at dance lessons, I took the other three kids home in the van. On the way home, the 6-year-old Zoologist decided it was Q&A time. The topic this time? What life was like when I was a kid.

This was his opening question:

“Dad, when you were born did they even have playgrounds?”

I took some time to explain to him that the 1970s were not in fact the dark ages. We did have playgrounds, we even had one with prairie dogs. He thought about this for a minute then he asked me if we had cars, dinosaurs, animals, restaurants, fences, binoculars, compasses and toy stores.

He was disappointed that we didn’t have dinosaurs when I was a kid, but overall he was pleased to hear that his dad’s world had looked a lot like his. He wanted to know what things we had today that we didn’t have when I was a kid. I tried to articulate what existence was like without cell phones, computers in every home, and the internet, but mostly he just gave me a blank stare, like he needed to ask Siri about it or something.

The whole time that he had been asking me questions, the 2-year-old Demolitions Expert had been singing, at ever-increasing volume, the song “Let It Go.” Now, she decided that she had had enough of our conversation and so she redoubled her efforts hitting a decibel that is normally only seen in death metal concerts and rocket launches.

Screaming aside, I was the lucky one. Earlier in the day my wife had to explain how she got the baby out of her tummy. Such is the life of a ride in the van.