On the Radio

by Janna Qualman

I love music in the car, like most people.  But when my daughters are with me, it’s not always easy listening.

Me: Ooh! Love this song.

[Turns it up to hear over backseat bickering]

Biggest Daughter: Mommy, I’m taking my lunch to school tomorrow. Today was yucky.

[Turns radio down.]

Me: Oh, yeah? What’d you eat?

I only half-listen. The other half sings along with Gwen Stefani.

Biggest: Blah blah gross blah blah blah…

Me: Mmm… Mm-hmm. Sounds delicious.

[Turns back up as song changes to John Mayer, a favorite. Turns up louder.]

Littlest Daughter: Mommy! Look at those cows. They’re running! Why are they running?

[Turns down radio. So sorry, John.]

Me: It’s feeding time. See the truck? The cows know the farmer’s just arrived with food.

Littlest: I’m gonna be a cowgirl when I grow up. Mommy, do you know where my cowgirl hat is?

Me: Basement. Find later. Listen now. Pretty.

[Turns it up again. Say What You Need to Say, John. Go ahead, buddy. But he’s done, darnit; it’s someone different, fluffy.]

Biggest: Mommy, what’s this song about? Did she say “crazy voices”?

[Turns it down. Again. With a little bit of huff.]

Me: No! She sang “many choices.” If you listen, you’ll hear. Listen! She’s telling a story.

[Turns up, just one more time. I am determined.]

Littest: Mommy, what are we having for dinner tonight?

[Turns radio OFF. Because why bother? I mean, really.]

Me: Food. We’re having food.

Biggest: Will you turn the radio back on, Mommy?


  1. So true!! Yes! You nailed it, Janna. Thanks for this fun piece.

  2. ROFL!! Love this! And totally relatable.

  3. I prefer to turn it up until the voices disappear completely.

  4. I remember those days, when my kids were little. Now it's the grandkids, but we leave the radio off, sinc we only see them 3 times a year.

    Do you think they ask questions on purpose, knowing that you want to listen to music? I think they have kid clubs where they conspire...

  5. Yep. I listened to that station for years. Now the static sounds like this, "Mom, you could have made that light. . .Mom the speed limit is 45. . .Mom Stop punching me and WATCH THE ROAD!"


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