The two of us loaded our overnight gear into the boot at the front of the old ‘Volksy’.

Just the two of us.

That meant that the little red headed kid got the prime front seat propped up right next to dad. In 1973, dad took me on a journey up the old Hume Highway to Glenrowan in North East Victoria. We were going to visit his old mate Tony, who had been best man at mum and dad’s wedding in 1966. I must have been all of five or six years old. It is funny hearing dad tell the story – it is a vivid memory for him too.

It was deep into summer and the day we left, was a scorcher. Dad’s account is that five minutes after leaving the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, we had to stop for a cold can of cola at our local servo. I was asking for lunch by the time we got to Broadmeadows.

It is my earliest memory of having time one-on-one time with dad.

Tony ran a farm. Big tractors and machines, fields of wheat and old corrugated iron buildings. Dad and I stayed in the old ‘sleep-out’. There were louvre windows with rectangles of thick glass. I remember the sound of the cicadas well beyond dark. The mosquitoes were more the size of dragon flies and buzzed around us all night. I rang dad to get his memory of this. He reckons a cool breeze floated through for few minutes around 4am and then it was hot again. But you know what? I was loving it. This was my time with dad.

I reckon Dad did something else by taking me on that trip, he embedded the value of one-on-one, parent-child time. That six year old boy from 1973 is now a dad himself. And just because he runs programs for young people and their parents/mentors doesn’t give him any special claims on perfection (just ask my two teenage kids). No parent is perfect. In making the time, however, Dad made me feel special, a feeling that lasts through time. No-one can take that away from him, from us. It is something that he taught me to do with my own daughter and son. The warmth of the memory is offered as evidence to support the idea that one-on-one time strengthens a child’s resilience.

The lesson from dad has come in handy this year. My son, now fifteen years old is well in the depths of rampant adolescence. He asked if we could repeat an overnight bike ride we had done a few years before. To be invited by him, at this stage of his life, was an opportunity not to be missed. So in the second term holidays we rode the Warburton trail… stayed in a room at the pub, had a counter meal and rode back the next day.

It’s the little things, I’m sure, that will stick through the years. We had taken a footy with us on the ride and a hell of a game of kick-to-kick evolved… nothing unusual there, only that we played it in our room in the pub. We were seeing how many marks we can take in a row without dropping one. It was so much fun. Sometimes in raising kids through the adolescent years, it is hard to believe there is anything remotely funny about that task. We laughed on this trip… saying stupid things and just laughing. It was an oasis.

Then, in the third term holidays Jack and I headed off on a road trip. My brother lives in Queensland and my wife and I agreed that it might be a good thing to give his older sister some quality quiet time in preparation for her Year 12 exams. The Mighty Lisa would stay with Amber and the two fellas headed off on an old fashioned road trip… we packed the car… and headed north.

We stopped in motels… bought Chinese take away in Narrabri… stayed with my brother and old friends over ten days and nights on this road trip up and down south eastern Australia. They were big drives.

Much of the time we were quiet… then one of us would ask a question, we would talk for a few minutes then go quiet again. I wonder how Jack might remember our adventures down the track. A few clues have already been picked up. I know he really valued those quiet times and rhythms. I know because he told his grandfather about the trip on the phone and how much he had loved the time together – just the two of us. His grandfather then told me.

Can you see the story turning full circle here? My dad taught me something by taking me on that road trip. Have I ever let him know how much I cherish the memory? I have now.

Thanks for reading. Do you have a road trip memory? Feel free to share yours in the space below.

Bill Jennings

P.S. You can find this article, called just the Two of Us, in the Parenting Ideas e-Magazine Christmas Edition amongst a whole bunch of other great articles by clicking here