Each day it takes 12 minutes of my time. Five days a week – Monday through Friday. Six minutes in the morning. Six minutes in the afternoon – for a total of an hour each week.
A person could complete any number of tasks in six minutes. Sip a cup of coffee or make a piece of peanut butter toast. Read the newspaper – or at least skim the headlines. Check email. Tweet. Watch an inning of baseball or four minutes of the news and two of commercials. Post a selfie. Meditate. Fill the car with gas. Send an “I love you” text to your honey. De-clutter the kitchen clutter bin. (We all have one.) Check the calendar to see what’s going on the rest of the week. Do sit ups. Run a mile – or half a mile if you are as slow as me.
Six minutes, times two for a total of 12 minutes each day. That’s how long it takes to drive my son to school. Six minutes – six minutes and 30 seconds if traffic is busy.
Some might think it mundane – a necessary chore that requires completing. Getting a kid from point A to point B before the first hour bell. A morning drive, an afternoon pick up, day after day – sometimes in the sunshine, oftentimes in the rain and the wind and the fog and the cold on slippery roads.
I find the time anything but mundane. Relaxing, intriguing, enjoyable, informative, treacherous and even silent, but never mundane.
Even though our morning routine may be rushed and hectic, the six-minute drive unfolds at the same speed each day. It’s made up of moments I can count on to be filled with just him and me. It may not sound like much, but six minutes with a teenager can be significant. Or not. Depending on the day.
Sometimes we ride in silence, but it is a comfortable silence. Other times we chatter. We are more likely to be silent in the morning. You can probably guess why. I often ask questions until I stumble on a subject that warrants his attention. Some days he is more inclined to share than others.
Most of the things we talk about aren’t earth shattering or life changing. Results of a math test. The book he is reading for English. An upcoming sporting event. A Friday night school dance. Normal, everyday topics that anchor us to a normal, everyday life. And each other.
Each morning, when I drop him off, I rapid fire the same litany of advice: “Be kind to everyone. Work hard. Respect your teachers.” He pretends to pay me no heed, exits quickly and mumbles, “I love you,” before disappearing into the school. Perhaps my words sink in. His certainly do.
My job won’t last much longer. Next year he will blow out candles on a cake and have the privilege of driving himself to school. But for now we have our 12 minutes a day – six in the morning, six in the afternoon. It’s a time that could be perceived as an average commonplace chore that this mom is obligated to complete. Or it could be embraced as a gift. Take your pick. I know how I see it.
There are a lot of different things a person could do with six – or even 12 – minutes. As for me, I’ll drive my kid to school. Any day of the week.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.