Tag Archives: little kids

Carpool Tutorial

My youngest son is turning 16 this year, which gives me pause. There’s an empty nest on the horizon, which will be proceeded by college application mayhem. But, before that, he will drive. His driving a car will undoubtedly bring on the next-level ulcer I’ve been waiting for, but it also signals the end of my nearly 24 year career as a chauffeur to children. My Volvo and I (this is my third, but certainly not final Volvo) have learned a few things in our decades of driving kids around. Namely, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do carpool.

Should you carpool? For sure. There have been few things that make my blood boil more than pulling up to basketball practice and seeing my neighbor’s car in front of mine. Both of us bundled up against the elements when one of us could be home on the couch. Carpooling conserves our precious resources, not the least of which is the mother’s sanity.

You’ll find yourself in a carpool group text, and the question will be: Which way do you want to drive? If possible, you should always answer “to,” not “from.” Say it like you’re doing everyone a big favor, “Oh I’d be happy to take them, my pleasure,” but the truth is that dropping kids off is a piece of cake. You gather up the clean children from the comfort of your car and drive them to the birthday party. You pull up in front, and they get out. If this happens to be a little kids’ party, you might be required to park and walk them in. But the second you get there, they will run in to join the fun and will thereafter be the problem of whoever is in charge.

The person with the real problem is the one who agreed to pick them up. She shows up at the party’s end to find the party’s not quite over and two of the kids are missing. She socializes a bit with the other waiting moms, reminds the kids in her care to say thank you, and then herds their sugared-up selves into her car. Halfway home, one of the kids will remember he left his Pokemon cards or sweatshirt behind, and she’ll have to turn around. Apologies, because that’s usually my kid.

In the case of sports practices in particular, start times are sharp, and end times are loose. I’ve arrived at the 6pm end time and sat in my car for 30 minutes waiting for practice to actually end. It took me years to figure out that the better strategy is to make the kids wait. They can totally handle it. Now I stay cozy in my house with my dog until I get a text that practice is over. My son and his pals have to wait 5 minutes for me to arrive, and I have waited not at all.

I shouldn’t have to remind you, but depending on the age of your children, don’t talk. Like don’t say anything. “Hello” followed by the name of the child getting into the car is okay, but still a little iffy. They will thank you as they get out of the car. Try to stick with “You’re welcome.” On days when I’ve been feeling a little whimsical, I’ve said things like “No problem, Sweetie” and it has not played well. If you take one piece of advice from this article, don’t say Sweetie.

Once, a child of mine complained that he hated carpooling because it takes so much longer to get there. Yes, I told him, this is why some people opt to travel by limousine rather than by bus. Of course he would rather I drove him directly to his destination and picked him up and drove him directly home, but carpooling is one of the very tiny ways I find to put my needs above my children’s. Trading a little inconvenience on their part for a little convenience on mine feels like just the small win I need.

Dog Park Rookie

When I got a dog I was excited to start going to the dog park. I thought it might be just like going to the playground with little kids, standing around shooting the breeze with other parents. In fact it’s been so long since I’ve lingered at a playground that I thought the dog park… Continue Reading

Is Anyone Else Tired?

Remember when that new, zealous guy started work at your office? The one who thought it would be more productive to come in a few minutes earlier and stay a few minutes later? Next thing you knew, your nine-to-five job was eight-to-six, for the same pay. I wonder if this is what’s happened to motherhood.… Continue Reading

Jigsaw Puzzles With Toddlers

If you’ve ever done a jigsaw puzzle with a two year old, you know what it means to run through the entire range of human emotions. You hope, you cringe, you pull your hair out. At some point, you’ll be disgusted, elated and then relieved. It’s a worthy exercise, and its success depends on your… Continue Reading

Greatest Mother in the World Spotted in YMCA Parking Lot

As published in the Rye Record on January 22, 2016 I saw a woman leaving the YMCA yesterday with a baby strapped to her chest, another, slightly larger one in a stroller, and a three year old holding her hand. She was infested with small children. I stopped to watch. How in the world are… Continue Reading

Nine Years on the God Squad

As Published in The Rye Record on June 9, 2014 I think it’s kind of funny that the same culture that thinks seven-year-old kids need a snack in the middle of a sporting event also expects those same kids to top off a six hour school day with 75 minutes of religious instruction. Imagine being… Continue Reading

Survivor: The Birthday Party

For my oldest son’s fourth birthday I took 15 kids on safari in my backyard. I transformed the space into the African savanna and led them all in pith helmets and sunglasses on the adventure of their lifetimes. I was living in New York City at the time, and took three separate trips downtown to… Continue Reading

As Time Goes By, I May Be Getting Older

As published in The Rye Record on June 7, 2013 I just saw my 7-year-old neighbor driving his parents’ car down the street. I did what any thinking, responsible adult would do. I rolled down my window, scrunched up my face, and asked, “What the heck are you doing?” “I got my driver’s license,” he… Continue Reading

The Hot Seat

As published in The Rye Record on March 15, 2013 Is there anything more awkward than the parent-teacher conference? It embodies all the stress and apprehension of a performance review with the added discomfort of being perched on a teeny tiny chair. Like most moms, I’ve squirmed in my fair share of these chairs, waiting… Continue Reading

How Legos Can Save the World

As published in The Rye Record on March 1, 2013 I had a pretty productive stay-cation over February break. I cleaned out three closets, gained two pounds, and rekindled my love affair with Legos. My 6-year-old pulled out that beautiful old box of colorful bricks, and I heard Peaches and Herb singing “Reunited.” It really… Continue Reading

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