Riding in Cars with Boys
Most 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.
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.
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.
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?
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