"Daa-aaad ... Are we there yet?"
Parents everywhere will know this one. I usually ignore it for the first 2 hours, or the first 100 miles if the traffic is bad, or the first 5 miles if I am on the M25. Then I park the car and turn round in my seat. Quite slowly, for effect, and with a languor I do not feel.
For the cry is an important moment in their little lives, and no less so for being repeated every time they get in the damned car. It is the first embrownment of the bright, green leaves of their childhood. Soon they will enter the long, damp Autumn of adult yearning which can only end in the Winter snap of cold disappointment that will, in its turn, finish them off, their songs unsung.
This is my chance to make a difference, to change all that, to shatter the false mirror in which they play so heedlessly.
"My Children,” I say to them, “Enjoy this journey and enjoy the here and now. No, we are not there yet. There is no such thing as ‘there’ because you will find that, when we DO get ‘there’, 'there' will at that very moment have become 'here', which is where you are already. So a life chasing what you think is 'there', or even trying to get 'there', will be a disappointing one. ‘Here’ is where we are now, and is the only place you will ever be, and by Christ we are going to enjoy it.
“Ah, my little ones, fortune is always hiding – and you will find that it is always hiding over there. So live large, my children, and dream small, and ...”
It’s at this point that they usually ask for their Mum.
“She’s over there,” I tell them, and start the car again.