But it was never a question for me. I didn't want to stop driving mainly because I didn't want to give up that one-on-one time with Timothy--those times I turn up the volume when Ed Sheerhan's song, Perfect, comes on the radio, and Timothy tries to turn it down; the times he gets into the car grumpy, and I tease a smile out of him; the times we discuss possible themes for a literature test or I quiz him on Spanish; or the times I pick him up in the afternoon with the news I went grocery shopping and he hoots in excitement at the thought of our pantry filled with Little Debbie cakes and chocolate chip cookies ... all there waiting for him.
Most importantly, though, I knew I didn't want to give up our W.O.W. moments.
W.O.W. stands for "words of wisdom" and it's a term we use to describe those golden nuggets of insight or advice, of stories, lessons, or parables that challenge us think, reflect, and change. W.O.W. moments happen randomly, and don't last very long, which is why they occur so often on that drive to school in the morning or back home in the afternoon.
For example, on Friday during our drive to school we said our prayers, after which Timothy read a short reflection from the book, Day by Day with St. Francis. The reflection described how St. Francis, despite being known throughout the region, wanted nothing more than to be God's humble servant; he didn't want the recognition, he didn't want praise. "In exalted places there is the danger of falling," St. Francis explained to his brethren.
And then we had a W.O.W. moment about pride, popularity, and hero worship.
Often those W.O.W. moments come during our morning commute when we are saying our prayers, but just as often they come in the afternoon, on the heels of something that happened in school.
One day Timothy got into the car complaining about a test he had on To Kill a Mockingbird. "It was so hard!" he lamented. "I read and I studied and I think it's stupid a teacher can ask something that we didn't even talk about in class."
His words inspired a W.OW. moment. I explained how the words on a page aren't enough, that they are simply black letters marching across a white background; how every paragraph, sentence, and word doesn't stand alone, but is part of a whole; how what is NOT being said is just as important as what is being said, so you have to infer, imagine, and delve below the surface.
I gave an example: "Once upon a time there was a man who always dressed in overalls. Then one day, without explanation, he emerges wearing a grey tie. The end. That's the story. On one level it's about a man who one day decided to wear a tie. But WHY was he wearing the tie? WHAT changed? WHAT happened? WHERE was he going? WHO was he going to see? There is a story beyond the words."
Then, because my son thinks in numbers and sees the world as black and white and who, at that very moment, didn't have the warm fuzzies for either his teacher or Harper Lee, I pointed out how it's the thinkers, teachers, writers, artists, and poets who bring imagination, depth, color, and magic to our world.
"Just look at me," I teased. "Aren't you glad I'm not an engineer? Who would help you with all this stuff?"
Having two grown sons who are off in the world, I am all too aware how change is around the corner. And so I continue to drive. Because I cherish these times. Because I know that little boys with their frogs and snails and puppy dog tails grow up.
Because I love those W.O.W. moments.