Originally created 09/21/03

Transporting children stimulates conversation



Before I was married, I had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories.

- John Wilmot

I've reached that stage of life when people ask me what I do, and I say, "I'm a chauffeur."

It's a partnership with my wife.

We take turns driving the youngest member of our household to school, to church, to parks and to a variety of athletic practice sessions. These require us to wait - as good chauffeurs do - sitting on hard benches and making small talk with other parents, while watching our child in hopes of spotting a thing well done.

Then it's back into the car and back home, unless we go to the store or a fast-food place or the doctor or someplace that caters to 9-year-olds with chauffeurs.

It's sort of a full-time job, and I spend a lot more time doing this than I ever imagined I would. But I'm not complaining.

It gives me and my son a chance to relate, to connect, to bond, to talk.

For example, I'll ask him how school went that particular day, and he'll give me a wide-ranging description of his activities that usually goes something like, "OK, I guess."

When I press him for specifics, he gets even more chatty and offers such insights as, "I don't remember," "Hmmmmmm ....," and sometimes, "That thing with numbers that's hard - math? We did some of that." His memory seems to improve only when recalling lunchroom entrees.

eredity, I guess.)

Still, the opportunity is there for him to ask his old man the answers to life's questions. He knows I went to college, read lots of books and work with smart people.

That's why our daily drives are frequently broken up with the deep and serious questions of today's youth.

Things like: "Has anyone ever fallen out of an airplane and lived?" "Why is baloney round and bread square?" and "If the 911 operator has a heart attack, who does he call?"

My sister has passed this stage.

Her children are older, and last month the youngest got his driver's license.

Now she doesn't have to drive them anywhere; they go themselves.

This has given her an unexpected amount of spare time, which she's trying earnestly to fill - I guess by calling me.

I ask what she does now, and she says, "Worry, mostly."

Apparently it's what retired chauffeurs do.

Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or bill.kirby@augustachronicle.com.