Monday, November 29, 2010

The Longest Five Miles in the World

I know science and math demand precision, and that a mile is a mile is a mile in terms of distance.  However, a mile is not a mile if the mile is uphill; it is a hard fought slogging war against anyone with shins, and a mile is more than a mile if the altitude is a mile up; it is an asthma attack waiting to happen.   So it is that the five miles from the school to our home is in the afternoon, more than a mere 8,800 yards from point A to point B; it is a parental death march fraught with emotional landmines that wound, maim and cripple the spirit of even the most dedicated mother. 

The other day included a squabble over who sat where, a dispute resolved abnormally quickly because the one who wanted to sit in the front who was still outside the car at the time (mercifully), threw up.   Suddenly the back seat was extremely popular.   

Then there was the time when two children thought it might be a good idea to use a soccer ball as if at a beach volley ball tournament when Mom pulled up to the railroad crossing.  I'd like to say I used my inside voice but that would be....incorrect.

Having a ring side seat view through the rear mirror of raised fists between the six and five year old over the Christmas carol on the radio nearly got the station banned for the entire season.

In short, I am a chauffeur who longs for a button to push which would send a partition glass between me and those I shuttle; or alternatively, I promise to buy the first true family vehicle that creates cubicles for each seat, creating effective barriers between warring nations.  Good fences make they say.

Some days, the battles are physical.  Other days, a more subtle form of combat takes place.  On that rare excursion when the planets are aligned such that no one is fighting, somehow something sabotages the route no matter which road I take. 

There was the premature aging day when my phone got a text message from my son, "Call me."  No explanation, no context.  I called  at the first chance.  No answer.  I handed my daughter the phone and let her repeatedly phone trying to get ahold of him.  No answer.  I fretted as only a parent in the dark can. Two blocks from home, I finally heard back and discovered said child wanted a ride home.   Call me heartless if you wish but my new grey hairs and I took some solace in saying, "Take the bus." 

Now no errand is so brief that it cannot be made more difficult by multi-tasking. "Mom? I need...." 

These sorts of sentences are always uttered just after we've passed the last strip mall en route home such that I will either have to turn around or make a second trip.  So in the interest of self preservation, I always ask before we even start the journey if anyone needs anything.  Then I put the desired item  on my list for the next time I'm already out and can get to it.  But this strategy only works if the item isn't needed that day and so you can guess how often the kids preemptively give me a heads up about what they need prior to the actual deadline.  

Finally, no matter what time it is, no matter how recently they ate, the very act of getting into the van turns normal elementary and middle school students into ravenous beasts.   I've learned to keep food in the car to buy myself a few minutes. The downside of this seemingly simple solution is three fold:

1) I forget to bring snack.  Calls will go out for a stop to get one. 
2) If I fail to stop, the children will descend upon all food in the house like locusts.  
3) Whether I remember snack or stop to get one, that does not preclude the children won't burst into the house seeking to snack again.  (See two).

The thing is, other people have driven my children from school and always remark on how polite and well behaved they are en route home.  I'll admit I'm pleased they put up a good company front. It proves it can be done.  I just wish they'd try it out on me sometime.   

1 comment:

MightyMom said...

wear a costume next time you pick them up??

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