A good piece of advice that we received early in our parenting of many littles was to always take at least one child with us where ever we went, if possible. The thinking was that if we always took a child with us, we could talk and train “on the road.” Thus, we made it a point to always grab a kid if one of us left the house to run an errand—or plan to take one child with us if we knew ahead of time that we were going to be driving somewhere.
Out of this theory came our mantra: “Who’s got your shoes on? Dad’s running an errand!” Or “Who’s got your shoes on? Mom’s got to take a quick trip to town.” The kids would scramble and look for shoes and socks to be the first one ready to head out with Mom or Dad. Of course, who went with us wasn’t always based on who had their shoes on, but it was a little saying that we used to emphasize the fact that we wanted to be with them—and know what was going on in their hearts.
This has taken on different looks throughout our lives, As the kids grew up, if we ever had to take two vehicles someplace (like if Dad was joining us from work or coming later to something), on the way home, one child would ride with Dad alone and the others would ride with Mom.(I had more time with the kids automatically by homeschooling them during the day, so one-on-one time with Dad was one of the things we used this time for.)
“Whoever has their shoes on” became “whoever was working on learning to drive” starting about twelve years ago as Ray taught each child to drive and took them out on the road a couple of nights a week for a few months. While driving and learning the ways of the road, conversations about so many other things just happened.
And today, it isn’t “who has their shoes on” as much as who might be available to call on their cell phone as I’m driving (talking—NOT texting!). I always look at the clock when I get in the vehicle alone to see which grown son or daughter is doing what—and who I should try to call to check in with. Ray’s drive time home from work is usually spent talking to an adult child.
“Who has their shoes on”; “Who’s learning to drive”; “Who’s available to call”---all avenues leading to the same goal: for our kids to know, think, feel, and say, Mom and Dad want to be with me and talk to me enough to take me with them when they go somewhere, spend time with me as I’m learning to drive, or call me when we are apart.