Moms in cars


Confession: this post was not written in carpool line.

Okay, it was started in carpool line. Not while I was driving, of course. Although by “driving,” I actually mean sitting slumped at the wheel, with one eye on the car ahead, and the other eye also on the car ahead, totally alert and totally not distracted by Angry Birds, the chance to scan the car for clean-it-before-she-trashes-it-again opportunities, or the temptation to fall aslzzzzzzzz–which is likely to happen, by the way, if the darling old grandma three cars ahead doesn’t, like, PULL UP already now that the cars in front of her have been gone for five minutes.

Ahem.

Because of the size of the Maiden’s school and the fact that I pick her up at different times in the afternoon, I’m a latecomer to the charming routine of Wait So Long To Pick Up Your Kid That You’re Both In A Foul Humor By The Time You’re Reunited.

Fast-forward to this week, when the Maiden’s summer camp has shown me just how much I’ve been missing.

If I’m going to subject myself to torture, at least I want to understand it. Yet I’m still trying in vain to figure out the whole carpool line thing. They say it’s more efficient, but for whom?

Not for the kids, who are getting increasingly whiny and antsy waiting for their ride to arrive. “Is Mommy here yet?” “Hey, that’s my dad! No wait, it’s someone’s grandmother in a completely different color of car.” “I can’t go out now, I have to go potty first.” “Waaaaaaah”*(*translation: “It’s naptime for somebody.”).

Not for the teachers, who are dealing with said kids. They spend the most hellacious half hour of their day desperately attempting to ignore the increasing noise level, keep tiny heads from getting squished in doors, and strike a balance between anxious parents and the need to send Janie home with her coat when it’s the dead of winter.

And wishing they had an easy job, like being an astronaut.

Oh, and safety? What’s safer, moms parking and coming to the door to lovingly collect their offspring, or kids trying to dart out the door amidst a line of bored parents whose feet are impatiently alternating between the accelerator and the brakes and who are looking down at their Blackberries every 0.25 seconds to see if something, anything is happening on Facebook to relieve them of their misery?

Because misery it is. Carpool is all the horrors of downtown city driving, rolled into one unhappy line. It is like hitting a red light every three feet. You have it all, right down to the dreadful drivers: people texting behind the wheel, the slowpoke who won’t keep up with the rest, the jerk who tries to cut you off. And the rising level of road rage that’s directly related to the increasing sense of going nowhere.

Essentially, carpool line is the ultimate traffic jam.

You can’t even beat “the system.” You get there early to beat the traffic? You wait in line 15 minutes. You get there late to beat the traffic? You wait in line 15 minutes (and have to listen to the lugubrious accusations of “Can’t you not always be late, Mommy?”). You get there somewhere in between? You wait at least 15 minutes, maybe more.

It’s like the magical rule of 15 or something. As in, if your kid does not magically appear in the car in 15 seconds, you’re going to succumb to intense road rage and drive off screaming into the sunset.

Which is metaphorical, because it’s not really sunset, but if you wait much longer it probably will be…

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