The pros and cons of carpooling

Carpooling kicks ass. Most of the time. Do I prefer driving TO or picking UP the kids from an activity? Either is marvelous and sometimes not. Let me tell you a little about why I feel this way.

If I am the mom who drives the kids TO the practice or meeting, I slow the car down to a creep and shove them out of the sliding door, haul ass home, pour a glass of wine and jam some tunes or read a book in peace. After a little me time, I whip up some dinner and while I’m doing that, nobody nags at me about how they don’t want to eat what I’m cooking. I can even have two glasses of vino because the safe transport home of small children isn’t my responsibility. An added bonus to having fermented and fruity goodness while the kids are gone means I’m chilled and ready for whatever they throw at me upon their return.

WIN. Pro #1.

Now if I’m the pick up mom, I still have the choice of quiet reading, my own private dance party OR errand running. Why the fuckaroo would I add errand running? Well, because there is always something I forget to do during the day that comes up last afternoon and it chaps my ass that I’ve forgotten it. It may be low in the list of importance, or a big stinking deal like needing something for the kids school or activities for the following day. It’s also a good time to order up some on the go dinner and pick it up before getting the kiddos from wherever they need to be got from. Throwing a group of kids slices of pizza on the ride home keeps them quiet and if I tell their parents that this is my plan, they all end up loving me and thinking I’m a generous angel because they are off the hook for dinner. The wine waits at home and dinner clean up is as easy as throwing out whatever wrappers or boxes are left over as we walk into the house through the garage.

WIN AGAIN. Total Pro, right?

For the life of me, I cannot understand the chicks that choose not to carpool. I know a few who like to sit at their kid’s activity and watch every move they make at every single damn practice. Some of the time this is a good thing, sure, that makes sense. We all want to enjoy the progress our wee ones are making and have the occasional chit chat with other parents, but every single time? No thanks! I want to launch into a bunch of psychobabble crap about giving kids space and letting them do their thang a lang in peace without worrying about what their ‘rents think, but I shant. And I shall not address any other garbage like, “well, practice is an hour away and I have nobody to carpool with,” because obviously I’m not talking about that kind of situation, or the “my kid has special needs and I have to be there for X, Y and Z,” situation, because by all means that really IS important and doesn’t really apply to the general tone of this blog post. To those about to get lippy, I say this:

Lighten up or go call someone who cares to listen to your whiny disagreements. I'm busy blogging here.

But there are the cons too. Sometimes a car full of kids stinks like ass and they choose terrible music and the overall volume and tomfoolery of the group makes ten minutes of driving seem like ten years. Not horrible, but definitely cons. But the big suck, the mac-daddy of all the cons is what I like to call – IPM (Intense Parenting Moments) that comes up with the non-spawn I’m transporting.

IPM is just what it sounds like. One of the non-spawn, meaning not one of your freeloaders, asks you a major life question or reveals something big that just cannot be avoided by turning up the radio or changing the subject. Some persistent little shit either wants or needs your help and the damn responsible, caring grown up in your realizes that the expression “it takes a village” is in play.

Here’s a good example of this crap. Recently, I was driving my kid and another adorable third grader from troop 184 to Brownies when the voice of the non-spawn I will call “Rocky” squeaked out a question over the jamming Rhianna tunes on the radio (total con, but that's just my musical preference, it could be a huge pro on your list).

“Mrs. Knepper? Have you seen the movie ‘Rock of Ages?’ I watched it at my house and it was so inappropriate. Especially that part where that boy did a disgusting thing to that girl with his tongue?”

Noooooooooooooo! I wasn't in the mood for an IPM.

I wanted to laugh, but only because I knew what was coming next. I don’t mean that I knew exactly, but my minivan has been the traveling classroom setting for hundreds of conversations about safety, sex, sexuality, religion, politics, you know, heavy topics that are hard to explain to kids who have absolutely no context for the stuff.

I was about to turn up the radio or pretend I didn’t even hear Rocky’s question, but then my spawn, jumps in and says, “My mom wouldn’t let me watch it because SHE says it’s inappropriate. Your parents should not let you watch inappropriate things.”

So now my kid is judging her friend’s parents. Yay!  I sure hope Rocky goes home and tells her parents and attributes the judgmental comment to me. How swell would that be? Not. So I had to figure out what to say.

Shit.

But once again, Cate bought me some think time when she asked, “What did the boy do to the girl with his tongue?”

Yeah, what did he do? I watched the movie, but I didn’t remember any specific tongue thing that popped out and gave me the ewwwwwww vibe, but I’m a grown up who likes …you know what I like. I tip the rear view mirror a bit so that I can see Rocky’s face. Damn the kid is so cute, her big, brown eyes and cheeks still soft with baby fat. This kid is one of those who has me by the heartstrings. Her expression was priceless and familiar. She was getting ready to ask me tell me more serious stuff.

“Mrs. Knepper, the boy in the movie stuck his tongue in a girl’s mouth and then he was licking all over her mouth and it was so gross and then more people used their tongues to do the same thing, but not as much licking but they sing to each other’s naked underwears in the bowing alley.”

Oooooooh. Yeah, that part. Nikki likey. I DID remember the licking and singing to each other’s “underwears on a pool table.” How cute that she thought they were in the bowling alley. I looked out at the road. I had a few minutes before I could slow down the minivan and shove them out for curbside drop-off. What should I say or do in these five minutes?

Cate to the rescue!

“That is so DISGUSTING!” she yelled!

“I KNOW!” Rocky agreed.

It was go-time. I had to step in.

“Well girls, when people kiss like that, using their tongues, it’s called French kissing. Grown ups who are in love enjoy that. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about sharing your body with someone you love and trust once you are a grown up and in a relationship, but I understand how it seems weird to you guys.” I said.

Really I just wanted to change the subject, but they weren’t having it.

“I’m glad I’m English.” Said Rocky.

Me too, but if I marry a French girl or boy, I’m not going to do that. Ever.” Cate declared.

“Ummmm, well, it’s not just French people who kiss like that guys, it’s called French Kissing, sort of like how French Fries aren’t really from France.” I exhaled. I was running out of time here, we were almost at the school.

“Well, I don’t care what language it is, I’m never doing that with anyone. Ever. Not my husband or my wife. That is very, very disgusting. ” Cate barked out, her tone seething with disgust.

“YOUR WIFE? You can’t have a wife!” Rocky yelped, looking at Cate like she was a nut-bag.

“Yeah, I can. If I’m gay I’ll have a wife. If I’m not I’ll have a husband.” She answered.

“What do you mean? What is gay?” Rocky asked.

OH COME ON!

This is why carpooling can be tricky! Parenting the non-spawn by feeding them or cleaning up their puke is one thing, but explaining what gay means to a third grader all decked out in her Brownie vest, each of her fists grasping a Littlest Pet Shop Toy? Thankfully we had just pulled into the parking lot and that meant class was over!

“If you are gay and a girl, you love girls and want to marry them. If you are a gay boy, you love boys and want to marry them.” Cate schooled her pal.

“I never heard of that before. Is she kidding?” Rocky asked, looking at me for confirmation.

“No she is not kidding. There are people who are gay. This is something you can talk to your mom and dad about if you have questions, okay? But listen up girls, when it comes to anything with your body and kissing and all that disgusting tongue stuff, never forget that YOU are in charge of your body. You don’t have to do things that make you uncomfortable and if you never, ever want to French kiss anyone, you don’t have to. Nobody has permission to touch you in any way that makes you uncomfortable. You are in charge. Say this with me, ‘My body, my choice,’ Okay?”

And they said it in unison. It was cute, yet I wanted to puke. I was going to have to tell Rocky's mom that she learned about homosexuality in my minivan and who the hell knew how she would react to that. They got back to giggling and playing with their Littlest Pet Shop Toys. Conversation over - hooray! That IPM was pretty intense, but they were over it and that let me off the hook.

And yeah, another pro for me because I didn’t have to pick them up! My job was done! I was going to go home and pour a big, honking beer stein of wine and read a book. Sure, I was a member of the village, but I just wanted to go back to my hut and let the others take over for a while. I parked the car and had them gather up their books and coats. After such an intense conversation, I couldn’t very well just shove them out of the van and zoom off, no matter how slow I was going. I do have some standards. I was almost home free, but dammit, Cate just had to speak.

“I think I’m probably gay. I love you Rocky. I love you so much.”

Hmmm….so the conversation wasn’t quite finished, but it had to end for the time being. It was time for the girls to go to Brownies time for me to get home and get my head straight for the inevitable follow up that would come later.  So I did the only thing I could think of to tie up the conversation and transition the girls to their activity.

“Cate, do you want to kiss Rocky? Do you want to be like Marge and Homer Simpson who take their clothes off and snuggle in bed? Do you get butterflies in your tummy around Rocky because you want to touch her or do you just love playing Littlest Pet Shop with her and playing outside and coloring and stuff? Loving a person doesn’t mean you are gay because there are different kinds of love. Romantic love is for married couples and people who are dating, agape love is for friends like you and Rocky, paternal love describes the way moms and dads love their children. Just because you enjoy your time with Rocky or any other friend who is a girl, it doesn’t mean you are gay. We will talk more about this later, okay? Until then, go have fun at Brownies!”

“Okay! I’m not gay for her at all then!” Cate agreed.

Shifting gears was a no brainer. She had an hour and a half of screamingly good Brownie fun ahead of her! I was off the hook. My wine and new book were calling out to me. And then Rocky spoke.

“Oh my God, YOU watch ‘The Simpsons?’ That is soooo inappropriate! I can’t believe your parents let you watch inappropriate things.” Rocky proclaimed, looking back at me with one of her eyebrows raised.

“Yep. I have seen every episode. Mom,  is there a name for people who love of animals. You know, when you let them lick you and you want to lick them and hug them when you are naked?”

GULP!

“I’m sure there is, but I don’t know what it is. I’ll Google it, okay? Have fun at Brownies girls!” I called out, my voice quivering as I tried to hold in my laughter.

Yeah, there's a name for that alright. BEASTAILITY is the name for that, I mumbled to myself while I waved goodbye to them.

“Cool, ‘cause that’s what I think I am, Mom.” Cate proudly announced. “I am a person who is in love with dogs and wants to marry them. And make videos about it too.”

“OOOOO Me too! I’m that kind of person too!” Rocky squealed!

And just like that, the two of them grabbed hands and skipped away into the building, leaving me standing on the sidewalk with my mouth hanging open with the visual of my daughter giggling as my mom's not yet spayed puppy humps her arm while she yells, "Can somebody get this on video please?"

Carpooling totally kicks ass. Most of the time.

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