October 26 2016
Family

Riding in Cars with Boys

family road tripsMost of our relatives live within driving distance.  So we are often packing our boys up to take a road trip to one family member’s house or another.  Or a ski mountain or some other family friendly destination.  I’m ok with this because I absolutely hate flying.  I’d rather be in the car any day.

I actually love the time I spend in the car with my kids.  It’s the only time I have their undivided attention.  I have honestly had some of the best conversations ever with my kids when they are stuck in the car, staring out the window.  There is no TV, no Nintendo DS, no iPad – not even a book (vomit precaution).  Their minds wander and the funniest, most interesting thoughts and conversation starters abound.  Like the time my son, staring out the window said, “Whoever invented doors must be really rich, because there are just doors everywhere.”  Gold.

Of course, I can only handle their undivided attention, and give them mine, for so long. Conversation only gets us so far on very long rides.  Eventually, we need some help.  We did a lot of driving over the last few months and employed our tried and tested time-killers, as well as discovered some really fun, fantastic new ones.

Word Games

One of our go-to classic car games is saying a word and then taking turns coming up with a new word that starts with the previous word’s last letter.  My 4 year old is now able to play this a bit and he is so proud.  My 8 year old is constantly using obscure Pokemon names for this game, not to mention other random shows he has discovered. So we created a variation where our words have to be the name of fictional characters.  Very fun. Usually kills a solid 20 minutes or so.

“Canary”

My husband’s childhood game… you say “canary” whenever you pass a yellow car or truck.  The idea is to be first to shout “canary.”  Like all good games, this evolved into the children coming up with their own ideas for words to shout for other colors… blueberry, puke, snowball etc.

The Gold Medal Winner

But by far the best thing I have found for car trips lately is something that happens to be very old: a series called Classical Kids. Have you ever heard of it?  I am completely and with all my heart obsessed.  It’s a series of CD’s (remember those?) that tell stories about famous composers, set to their music.  Like I said, they are old, so I think a CD is the only available format.  You can buy the set or singles on Amazon.

I bought two for our recent drive to Rhode Island:  Vivaldi, which my boss, who turned me on to the series, remembered as being her favorite, and Beethoven, which I had to imagine would be good.  Low and behold, both were marvelous.  I actually preferred the Beethoven story and damn near got teary at the climax of it, listening to the 9th Symphony.  Even my husband was entranced, nerdy as it all was.

beethoven, classical kids

My older son did not want the stories to end. Vivaldi’s story is set in Venice, so that alone made it awesome.  It is impossible not to be moved by the music in the Beethoven story.  All the stories feature children.  Brilliantly weaving music together with an engaging child-friendly story really awakens a little person’s interest in classical music.

But the beauty was that the adults in the car enjoyed listening just as much.  My little one was slightly less enchanted than the rest of us, but he listened.  My boss says that her son, now in his twenties, still has a love of classical music, the seeds of which she attributes to Classical Kids.

I look forward to listening to more during our next road trip.  Never before did one hour pass so quickly in the car.  Especially in that dreadful never-ending stretch of Connecticut on I-95.  Sorry Connecticut – I know you’re awesome, off the highway.

We were planning to get my older son a keyboard for Christmas so that he could begin taking piano lessons after the holidays (though truthfully, I think my husband and I mostly want it for ourselves).  After listening to the Beethoven story, my son began begging for piano lessons.

I’d really love to find other wonderful things like this to listen to in the car.  I know there are some books on audio that are great — I’ve heard the Harry Potter books are excellent on audio — but I don’t want to listen to something that my son would read.  Or even necessarily a novel.  The beauty of Classical Kids is that it is interesting for all of us and short enough to listen to in its entirety.

Anyone know of any cool, non-fiction-y types of audio stories to listen to with the family on long card rides?

You Might Also Like

  • The no electronics in the car is a self imposed rule? If so a great way to get some undivided attention. The door line, now that’s great. Our three are all teenagers now and I’m not sure I could prey their smartphones out of their hands for an extended car ride, but I love the idea. Have you ever considered audio books? I wonder how they might take to a classic like “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

    • So, the kids get car sick if they look at phones or even just read in the car. So it’s easy to be strict about it in that one place! Yes, I am totally on the hunt for audio books, but the hard part is finding something that we can all listen to… -Linda

  • Ooh, no Kindle or reading would be tough for us…it makes our trips much shorter for Little Bit to play her games or read her Captain Underpants books. We have our KidzBop and Jimmy Buffett singalongs, we play ISpy and the alphabet game (find words on signs that have all of the letters, in order.)

    If you don’t want to listen to books that your kid might read, what about ones they’ve already read? There’s a set of Doctor Seuss books read by folks like David Hyde Pierce that is really well done.

  • Music is probably the one shared passion throughout our family, so it is always a constant on our road trips. Each year, there seems to be a specific artist/recording that becomes the “soundtrack” of the drive. 🙂 This summer it was Switchfoot’s, “Where The Light Shines Through” 🙂

    • Oh my god yes, totally. Music is a given. I love how long trips end up having soundtracks, which you don’t even really realize until the trip is in the rear view. Certain songs always bring me back to long drive to Lake Placid, one of my most favorite family trips ever. There is a song that my little one is obsessed with because we went on a cruise once and they played it constantly – he was only two at the time, but he still has such clear memories of that trip and gets excited every time he hears it. I even have an album that makes me think of my two beautiful twin nieces every time I hear it because we listened to it a hundred times sitting in traffic when I drove them home to Long Island after a few days staying with me.

  • Thanks for sharing, Linda. I have to admit, I had a moment as I was reading your post. Because, sadly, I don’t think my teenagers would listen to the classical kids series at this point. I know they would have loved it a few years ago (and I kinda miss those days…sniff, sniff).

    This is a weird one, I know, but we used to play “bury the cows”. Obviously this won’t work in all places, but it’s perfect in the Iowa countryside. Count as many cows as you can when you see them on your side of the car. If you are the first to spot a cemetery, you can “bury” the other person’s cows. My teen daughter and her friends still play it on road trips, just to be goofy.

    • Oh my goodness, that is absolutely hysterical. Dark! But hysterical! (Sorry to have inspired one of “those” moments. I have them all the time, as I look at my children, growing faster than I can bear!)

    1. Amanda @ centsiblyrich 11:45am 28 October - 2016 - Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Linda. I have to admit, I had a moment as I was reading your post. Because, sadly, I don’t think my teenagers would listen to the classical kids series at this point. I know they would have loved it a few years ago (and I kinda miss those days…sniff, sniff).

      This is a weird one, I know, but we used to play “bury the cows”. Obviously this won’t work in all places, but it’s perfect in the Iowa countryside. Count as many cows as you can when you see them on your side of the car. If you are the first to spot a cemetery, you can “bury” the other person’s cows. My teen daughter and her friends still play it on road trips, just to be goofy.

      • Brooklyn Bread 12:51pm 28 October - 2016 - Reply

        Oh my goodness, that is absolutely hysterical. Dark! But hysterical! (Sorry to have inspired one of “those” moments. I have them all the time, as I look at my children, growing faster than I can bear!)

    2. Mystery Money Man 01:41am 28 October - 2016 - Reply

      Music is probably the one shared passion throughout our family, so it is always a constant on our road trips. Each year, there seems to be a specific artist/recording that becomes the “soundtrack” of the drive. 🙂 This summer it was Switchfoot’s, “Where The Light Shines Through” 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 07:48am 28 October - 2016 - Reply

        Oh my god yes, totally. Music is a given. I love how long trips end up having soundtracks, which you don’t even really realize until the trip is in the rear view. Certain songs always bring me back to long drive to Lake Placid, one of my most favorite family trips ever. There is a song that my little one is obsessed with because we went on a cruise once and they played it constantly – he was only two at the time, but he still has such clear memories of that trip and gets excited every time he hears it. I even have an album that makes me think of my two beautiful twin nieces every time I hear it because we listened to it a hundred times sitting in traffic when I drove them home to Long Island after a few days staying with me.

    3. Emily @ JohnJaneDoe 12:18pm 27 October - 2016 - Reply

      Ooh, no Kindle or reading would be tough for us…it makes our trips much shorter for Little Bit to play her games or read her Captain Underpants books. We have our KidzBop and Jimmy Buffett singalongs, we play ISpy and the alphabet game (find words on signs that have all of the letters, in order.)

      If you don’t want to listen to books that your kid might read, what about ones they’ve already read? There’s a set of Doctor Seuss books read by folks like David Hyde Pierce that is really well done.

    4. Brian @ Debt Discipline 02:05pm 26 October - 2016 - Reply

      The no electronics in the car is a self imposed rule? If so a great way to get some undivided attention. The door line, now that’s great. Our three are all teenagers now and I’m not sure I could prey their smartphones out of their hands for an extended car ride, but I love the idea. Have you ever considered audio books? I wonder how they might take to a classic like “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

      • Brooklyn Bread 02:12pm 26 October - 2016 - Reply

        So, the kids get car sick if they look at phones or even just read in the car. So it’s easy to be strict about it in that one place! Yes, I am totally on the hunt for audio books, but the hard part is finding something that we can all listen to… -Linda

    Leave a Comment

    CommentLuv badge