"May I Direct Daddy?"

"May I direct Daddy?" asked the little voice at the back of the car.

'Sure, E," said the man at the wheel, as he handed over the pre-programmed GPS navigation system to the 5-year-old. "Tell me how long it will take to get there, and whether I should go left or right ok?"

"Sure Daddy. It's going to be 30 minutes. A very long journey."

"30 minutes is not so bad. We'll be there soon ok?"

"Ok, Daddy. You have to turn left very soon."

"Oh? How soon E? How many metres?"

"7-0-0 metres turn left. Turn left in 700, no 600 metres, Daddy."

"OK. Thanks E. You really are a great help!"
Car journeys are wonderful for long conversations with the children.
Many of our precious moments have taken place in the car.

It all began in Taiwan, when we were dealing with two whiny sons at the back of the car. Sue thought then that by letting our kids hold the phone, which was functioning as a GPS, that it would distract them and that they would hopefully not complain so much as we negotiated the long journeys there.

The boys took to their new electronic "toy" very well, and tried their best to direct me as I drove. We had thought that our older son Z would be more interested in giving directions, since he has a fantastic memory and also observes things with an eagle's eye. However we realised that Z was more interested in looking at the sights outside of the window, and he preferred that to the electronic device he held in his hands. E, on the other hand, took to the GPS like a fish to water. He was conscientious in looking for the "red dot", which demarcates the destination, tracing it all the way back to the point of origin.
We have come to enjoy our driving holidays. One car. Everything inside. Priceless memories.
And the little boy clearly enjoyed himself.

"Daddy, you're driving over the river!" he would exclaim on one particular occasion; while on another occasion he would inform me that I needed to make a U-turn or I would otherwise be going the wrong way. 

It was admittedly challenging to work with him at the start, and there were moments when I would ask where to go, and he would ask me to go straight. And at the eleventh hour he would suddenly declare, "Daddy, turn right now!" However such a turn was impossible at that moment as I was on the wrong lane.

But we didn't give up, and I took the opportunity to teach him many important life skills. Not only was he learning about numbers (he can now count in the hundreds at the age of 5), but he also knows the difference between metres and kilometres, and he is better attuned to the geography of the land. Moreover, there are fewer temper tantrums and he has also grown to be very proficient in the art of navigation. Most importantly, I have learnt to trust my son when he navigates, and to affirm him whenever he gets us to our destination.
Life presents us with many opportunities to build into our children's lives.
Ultimately we want to see that they have a secure self identity and are comfortable
wth who they are.
A typical conversation now goes something like this:

"E, I need you to tell me where I should go."

"Sure Daddy, go to Exit Number 15-A and turn left."

"Ok. How far ahead is that?"

"800 metres. Keep left and turn left."

"OK."

"Daddy, you need to keep to the left lane."

"Ok, E. Thank you so much for directing us. You're doing a fantastic job! Daddy is so proud of you!"

And while I cannot see the little boy's face, I know that it is beaming with pride.
Our little E lives life with a tenacity and it is such a joy to see how confident he is!

1 comment:

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