Car Ride Conversations With Kids

I’m a bit late with this week’s post. Sorry about that. My excuse? This past week has been graduation week for my oldest. And by graduation week, I mean just that. An entire week of endless fancy-pants events. And she hasn’t even graduated yet. That’s tomorrow. And at this point, we’re all like “omg can we just get this over with already!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for the great education she got from this school. And I’m not begrudging Catholic schools. I’m just in the thick of it all at the moment and I’m so frakking tired! I graduated from a public school and all we had to do was show up for the graduation ceremony. There was no senior showcase, no May Crowning, no baccalaureate, no luncheons. We simply graduated.

It’s not like I didn’t know we’d have to do all of this either. They didn’t spring it on us last minute. I’ve known for four years this was coming. I just feel like I was completely unprepared for the cloud of urgency that’s been lurking overhead all week. It’s been an overwhelming sense of rush here, rush there, rush, RUSH, RUSH EVERYWHERE. And I’m exhausted.

But it’s almost over and I’m sure one day we’ll look back at this week with fondness. Right? Anyway, on to this week’s post.

And now the next installment of Coffee with Laura Leigh:

If you’ve ever been around any kids for any amount of time, you know they will say the weirdest, most random things. Things that will throw a normal conversation completely askew. Things that leave you wondering how such a little brain with so little experience on this earth could manufacture what just escaped their mouth. Things that make you question the world, question your parenting, even question life itself.

And for some reason, this phenomenon always seems to manifest itself during car rides. I’m not sure why. Maybe because there isn’t much to do while harnessed in the back seat but to look out into the world and question everything you see.

The most recent of these conversations for me occurred on a gray, damp morning in early May.

I dragged my two girls from their warm slumbers for what seemed like the millionth time this school year. We were automatons at this point, moving through the getting-ready-routine and grunting monosyllabically toward one another. It was a morning cloned from any number of the ones before it. Then dampness besieged us when we walked out the door. We recoiled from it like vampires from sunlight as we maneuvered our way around puddles to the safety of the Jeep. Doors unlocked, bodies in seats, “oh no, my breakfast” piped the little one.


Trudge back through the mist and into the house. Shoes off to avoid getting water on the kitchen floor. Grab breakfast bar. Back out to the offensive outdoors and into the Jeep. I was so done with this off-to-school routine. The sweet, warm frothiness of a caramel latte called to me and as soon as I got these two to their respective places, I could be united with it. It was all that kept me going.

One child was off to take her last exams as a high school student, the other to one of her remaining days of kindergarten. The Jeep, already knowing her way, carried us along on our morning journey. As we pulled up to a stoplight, it began.

“What’s that?” asked the little one. I glanced in the direction her tiny finger was pointed. Next to us was an older model pick-up truck with an old-time quasi-camper cap. Baby blue paint peaked out from underneath an armor of bumper stickers that told us the elderly man driving used to be in the Army. Airborne infantry to be exact.

“It’s a truck with a cap. He can use it for camping or to carry bigger stuff he doesn’t want to get wet,” I responded.

“Like a dead body,” she stated in her usual pragmatic manner.

Silence befell the inside of the Jeep as Taylor Swift and her wildest dreams faded into the distance. The world outside slowed its pace. The oldest and I exchanged a look, both of us attempting to grasp how the conversation escalated to that level so quickly. My mind reeled. Images of my child being a possible budding serial killer began to take shape. I tried to rationalize it by telling myself “hey, she is your kid. Her mind may go to those dark places just like yours always has. And you didn’t turn out to be a serial killer. So, it’s ok.”

The oldest, in a feeble attempt to change the subject, said, “I feel like he would be a Trump supporter.” She had no basis for the statement. Maybe she just wanted to distract her little sister from thoughts of dead bodies and she knew that would do it.

“Yeah. A Trump supporter who may or may not have a dead body in the back of his truck,” I quipped.

“He’s a cute old man! He does not like Trump!” yelled the youngling from her perch in the back seat. She was not a fan of Mr. Trump. She viewed him as a mean bully, and saying someone might be a supporter of his was probably the biggest insult one could make in her mind.

The light turned green and we pulled away from the cute old Army man. No one spoke as we headed in a different direction. Voices on the radio slowly came back into existence. At some point the drizzle outside had diminished and the Jeep’s wipers now farted across the windshield. How long had that ruckus been going on? As we caught up with the rest of the world, my mind fixated on one thought. Why did she say a dead body?

“Um, can I ask you a question?”

“Of course, mama,” she answered in her little Minnie Mouse voice.

“Why did your mind go straight to a dead body when asking about that truck?”

“Oh, well uh, because I thought it was one of those body holders. The ones that take the body to the church.”

Holy crap.

“Do you mean a hearse?” the oldest asked with obvious relief.


“Oh thank god!” I cried out.

My child was not a future serial killer. I scolded my brain silently for going to that dark and cynical place. There was a very logical reason for her saying a dead body. No deviant or warped thought process involved. It was simply the mind of a six-year old attempting to associate a new thing to something she had seen before.

The rest of our drive continued without incident. I dropped off the oldest for her exams and proceeded to the youngling’s school. As we sat in the parking lot and waited to go inside, she clambered up to the front seat. The grayness of the morning persisted outside, but she ignored it. She spread her collection of tiny plastic toys across the dash with the carefulness and precision of a watchmaker. She had just begun to play when I said, “ok, time to go in.”

Her shoulders sank in defeat. She lifted her head to the sky, closed her eyes and yelled “Ugh! You’re killing me, bro!” Thus revealing one of the true struggles of a six year old.

Next time on Coffee with Laura Leigh: The Best of YouTube

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