As a child, I loved going on holidays in the car and every summer we spent the last two weeks of the school holidays in either Norfolk or Lincolnshire at the seaside. My dad drove as mum never learnt to drive, my mum attempted to navigate the map book (back in the no Sat Nav days) and myself and my younger brother would be in the back of the car asleep, listening to music or asking “are we there yet?” after being woken up at 5am for a 6am start to the destination.
Even though we went to almost the same holiday homes every year, the journey was still so exciting. I loved, and still love, looking out at the different views, seeing different towns and cities and observing the different traffic and wondering where their destinations were for that day. I’d always have a notebook in the car and I loved writing down number plates or cars, lorries, buses. I had pages and pages of them. It kept me busy and away from boredom. I’d also carry with me my Walkman cassette player and listen to the few cassettes I owned – T’Pau, Tiffany, New Kids on The Block, The Carpenters…. and often I’d borrow my dad’s country music tapes too (Any youngsters reading this may need to go Google what they are. There was no such thing as an iPod back then). In some ways, the travelling was such a wonderful part of the holiday for me. There was of course the odd occasion where we’d get lost (Once, my dad had followed a car for so many miles that he decided it must be going to the same place we were. So we kept following it…… down a small road…. in to a cemetery….. for someones funeral! We still talk about that story now. In fact we told it in my Dad’s eulogy earlier this month because we all knew it so well and it always makes us smile). Later this month I’m taking Eliza and Noah to Norfolk at half term for a few days away. We have my dad’s ashes to scatter and a few family favourite places to visit.
As an adult, I’m not a great fan of travelling. Anxiety is usually lurking and ready to pounce and any sign of nerves. I can drive, but I prefer not to. Driving is not something I enjoy at all, it’s a huge anxiety trigger for me. But driving means I can take the kids on holiday, to parties, to family visits and various other places. There are times, I feel OK about driving and my confidence is growing. I’d happily say I like and tolerate it at times but it’s very much a love-hate relationship. Although I recently purchased a newer car and for the first time it has lots of techy stuff in that I never ever had before – automatic windscreen wipers, automatic lights, removable and washable seat covers, built in Sat Nav and a rear parking camera! I have to admit, these techy extras have made driving a lot more tolerable and dare I say it, easier.
Both of my children seem to love being in the car as much as I did when I was a child. At ages 5 and 10, it must seem exciting still. Noah likes to look out at the views and he loves seeing various trucks go by. He’ll tell me all about the bridges we cross and what’s under them whether water or more roads. He finds buildings fascinating too. Eliza likes the views but she’d rather occupy herself with a book or an iPad. Or a snooze! If they start to get fidgety or bored or start the “are we there yet?” repetitive question, then we play a game. I ask them “who can find ………. first?” and it might be a red car, an ambulance or even a pigeon that they are looking for. Usually this ends in lots of laughing as if they can’t find whatever we are looking for, they make something up.
Our car is not just a car. It’s a safe space that we’ve often used. When Eliza was anxious or in a meltdown stage, I’d always say to her “Let’s go sit in the car” as it’s lockable, safe, our space. It could be as quiet or as noisy as she wanted it to be. It had her seat, her books, her blanket. It was a place she could calm and recover. She’s always remembered this as recently I received the phone call to say that my dad was dying and that I needed to go see him asap. We were outside a huge supermarket, having just been evacuated for a fire alarm test. I was shaking and numb, couldn’t find the words to speak to the children and attempting to formulate a plan from the hundreds of thoughts whizzing around my brain at that moment. At just 10 years old Eliza stood and watched me for a few seconds and said “Mummy, I think we should go sit in the car”. She knew it was my turn for a safe space and I’m so incredibly proud of and thankful for those words at that moment. Despite my love-hate relationship with driving, my car offers us safety.
Thank you for reading. This was a prompt for our ‘Finish the sentence Friday’ group with ‘Road Tripping’ hosted by the fabulous Kristi from https://findingninee.com/