driving miss daisy & her little friends

April 15, 2014

taxi

Everyone's buckled and you have 23 minutes to get to dance class on the other side of town. It's 5:37 and apparently everyone left work at the same time tonight. You left with snacks in tow, filled up your gas tank, picked up Eleanor and Lizzie, agreed that Eleanor's mom would handle next week's class and fielded questions from the backseat on the difference between ponies and unicorns, aside from the obvious horn.

There are requests for music. Someone dropped their juice box and can't reach it without unbuckling (nope!) and you're focused on making the next green.

This is your life. And you love it. But you never imagined you'd feel this perennially rushed. That you wouldn't care if all you had time to grab was your old ratty sweater and your ugly garden crocs as you ran out the door. At least your daughter's leotard is clean, you remembered the tuition check and no one's fingers got pinched in a door.

You do what it takes and you're good at it. And if you were going to give advice to your 25, 30 or 35 year old self as you prepared for all of this it would be this:

kids

  1. Your car will never be the same once you have kids. Get over it. You may say you won't allow eating in your car on principle. Sounds good. That'll last about 3 days if you're lucky. You're not alone.
  2. Turn your car into command central, filled with all of your secret weapons like baby wipes (even if you don't have babies, the unscented ones are great for sticky faces and hands, spills and dusty dashboards), a rechargeable or battery powered handheld vacuum like this one or this one (it'll make you feel a little better), lots of napkins, tissues (or napkins work), extra straws, lip balm and concealer (just in case), lotion, band aids, spare change, working pens, at least one phone/device charger, a few Ziploc baggies and individual-sized snacks.
  3. Fill the pockets on the backs of the seats with small colorful toys or stuffed animals for babies, washable markers and paper, books or a deck of trivia cards for older kids.
  4. Have at least one extra booster seat once your kids get to that stage. Then when you pick up a friend you won't have to borrow and return his or hers (especially if you're only on one end of a carpool).
  5. Try to give yourself a little extra time so you're not in such a rush. Easier said than done. But when you can take your time, you can really listen to your kids and their friends. Some interesting conversations happen with a captive audience like this. Enjoy that when you can.
  6. Don't take yourself too seriously. So your car isn't immaculate (and neither are you a lot of days) but there is a practical kind of laissez faire beauty in that. And if you get there a few minutes late, so be it. Do your best and then let it go.
  7. Food fixes a lot of things in the car. Bring snacks.

Think like a cabbie. The meter is running, so make the time count with your kids. Plan your route and treat your passengers like precious cargo. Because they are the reason you do what you do.

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