Our graffitied (yet seldomly hurried) Commute

Hauling kids to school may not always be this colorful - but it's a great time to connect with them.

Researchers point out that driving is a great time to talk to kids in a non-confrontational way about uncomfortable issues since the lack of eye contact puts kids (especially teens) at ease. This holds true for however you travel to school - the commute is a great time to interact without distractions. 

My commute with my son is some of the most precious, one-on-one time we spend together - whether we're taking a bus, subway or taxi-ride-of-shame to school or meandering home on foot.  

However you commute, try to focus on  the moment and not the worries of the harried day ahead.    You may find yourself  alternately answering your child's deep questions 'what exactly is a black hole' and laughing at his random thoughts like "What if I was walking down the street and there was a glitch, like this" as his little body goes slo-mo suggesting he lives in a virtual reality.

Having a project like collecting fall leaves, doing multiplication or playing I-Spy is a fun way to connect. If you have a reasonable morning routine in place you should have enough time to enjoy it. (Another parent once put the idea in my head that there was enough time to make eggs, toast and steam hot chocolate on a weekday morning and, once we dove into the routine, cold cereal became an occasional treat.)

I have been snapping these portraits of my son while commuting  together for six years now. These pictures are a true collaboration between us documenting our passage to and from school.  The only reservation we've ever had was photographing a graffitied couch at the height of the city's bed bug mania on the way home from school. We walked past it day after day,  languishing in front of the Chocolate Factory -   longing for someone to sit in it - until one day we both agreed the picture was worth the risk. 

In NYC, graffiti is either seen as urban-scourge or art-of-the-people. I celebrate every rebellious inch of it - even when it lands on my front door. As a one-time (and quickly disillusioned) art historian, I appreciate these artists' drive to be "seen" outside the walls of our city's exclusive galleries and museums. Despite the demise of SoHo's galleries - artists persist. And despite the loss of the Chocolate Factory (once a mecca for international graffiti artists soon to be a high-rise) - graffiti lives on and so does our colorful commute!


jane beck

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