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Stuck in the Carpool Lane

Charlene is learning some valuable lessons while getting the hang of the whole carpooling thing.

We are three weeks into the new school year, and I think my kids are finally getting the hang of it. Now if I could just catch up.

I’ve been doing my best to keep my daughter . What I need is to organize myself. I started off great. After dinner I would set coffee up for the next morning, lay my clothes out for work the next day, and make in advance. This week I woke up every morning to an empty coffee pot, scrambled to find something clean to wear after getting out of the shower (I’m behind on laundry, too), and threw an Uncrustable, cereal bar and some dried fruit into my daughter’s lunchbox, while trying to convince myself that at least it was better than a cafeteria lunch. (My son is in high school–he packs his own unhealthy lunch.)

But the thing that I’m trying to get used to the most is navigating the carpool.

My son took the bus to middle school, so carpooling was never an issue for us, but we’ve chosen a different middle school for our daughter that does not offer bus service to our house.

Arriving twenty to thirty minutes early to get a good spot in the pick-up line or coming late to the line and getting stuck a half a mile away from school, crawling at a snail’s pace for half an hour, is just not for me.

The first few times I picked up carpool, I parked the car relatively close by and walked up to the school and retrieved my daughter at the flag pole. I was told in no uncertain terms that this was not cool. This was not elementary school and moms were supposed to wait in the car. Ouch! Nothing like being scolded by an 11-year-old.

So, I have found a lovely tree to park under and wait for the kids about a block away from school. Once someone was parked under my tree forcing me to park in the sun (talk about rude!). I considered ramming her car but figured that was bad carpool karma.

At first I was a little bitter about the time that carpooling takes away from my day (I really liked that bus), but I’ve started to calm down. It is rather nice to be stuck somewhere with nothing but time. It sort of forces you to relax. I try to remember to bring a book or sometimes I’ll catch up on Twitter and tweet lame and unclever mommy blogger tweets about being stuck in the carpool.

I do rather enjoy watching the kids get out of school and scramble (or rather amble) to their cars. It’s quite the sociological observation of teenage suburban style, attitude and culture. Maybe I should go back to school and write a master’s thesis on suburban teenage behavior. It would probably be a better use of my time than tweeting.

The big payoff of carpooling, however, is picking up the girls. I love to hear the chatter between them and learn the gossip of the school. Not that there’s anything really juicy – it’s just that it’s a completely different type of information than what’s dispersed at the table.

Sometimes the girls almost seem to forget I’m in the car. I truly have become a chauffeur whose only job is to cart kids from one place to another instead of a mom actively trying to be involved in her daughter’s life. And the girls chat and giggle as if I’m not even there. This is when I get the best glimpse of what really goes on at school.

I am trying my hardest to relish this time in my life. We all know that in a blink of an eye, these days of being mommy chauffeur will be over and my daughter will be driving herself to places near and far. Until then, I’ll just do my best to drive and be quiet and learn what I can.

But please don’t park under my tree. I don’t want to have to ram your car.

 

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