Wednesday, October 2, 2013

drive time

There was a time when taking my kids to school was a breezy, low stress adventure punctuated by conversations with crazy. Over the years, as schools and schedules changed for one or both kids, morning routines have varied and sometimes become slightly complicated, but we’ve always managed to make it work without too much angst. I mean, it’s been hard at times, but nobody died or anything. Yet. 

This year the kids are at two different schools in two vastly different locations. Gone are the days of na├»ve oblivion to the perils of the modern commuter.  I’ve now got a freeway to contend with, and have become a slave to the SigAlert. It’s inconvenient and stressful, but really wouldn’t be so bad if Bill could take over at least one kid drop off every once in a while, but he’s an early start bastard, and is gone before the kids and I are even conscious. Not helpful. Oh, and did I mention that both schools start at the same time?

It can’t work.

It’s impossible.

These are the thoughts that plagued me in the weeks leading up to Labor Day, spoiling my end of summer reverie and causing many sleepless nights. I joined the new school’s fancy commuter carpool website, where I created a profile for myself and entered the details of my route, explained what I could offer (free like birdie in the after school), and put myself out there for the proverbial taking. I got a few hits, which made me giddy with excitement like I’d found the match dot com of my dreams. At one point I thought I had a  ftf in the works, a bona fide date to talk about a carpool schedule. Squeee! But then she stopped calling. It wasn’t me, I’m sure it was her. And I was back to square one.

When Labor Day weekend was upon us, we had no choice but to find a way to make this work. Someone was going to have to go early, and someone else was going to be perpetually almost-late. At my girl’s school, you are technically not supposed to drop off before 8:10. Google maps says that I can get from her school to his school in 16 minutes, which would be cutting it VERY close since the people always insist on driving into each other on these San Diego freeways. There is a back way that involves one million traffic lights and trolley tracks and buckets of woe. This will not work.

On day one we brought the boy first. First day of high school! It was exciting, we left the house at 7:45 and agreed that it would be good to have a little extra time to figure out exactly where to go, and we thought we’d drop him at the end of the block so he could have a little walkie. We did our spiffy first day photos and set off. Freeway was okay, we took the most direct route, alongside every minivan that has ever been manufactured near or far. We crept along, I kept glancing at the clock as the minutes ticked by, and tried to maintain a calm appearance even when we transitioned from “we’re still okay” to “she’s going to be late” to “holy shit they’re both going to be late on the first fucking day!” We got within block and had a very special bonding moment to mark the momentous occasion I screamed at him to GET OOOUUUUUTTTTTT so we could peel off to my girl’s school.  I raced to the freeway and screamed to her exit and went east instead of west and made a u turn and got so so so close to that last traffic light and waited for that elusive left turn signal. And waited. And waited. And waited. Then raced around them to the right and into the alley and u turned again and hightailed it up the block and MADE IT. Cuz I am awesome. Then I went home to bed went straight to the bar went to work for the first day at MY school.


We’ve developed a better routine, we’ve found ways to make it work. We drop the girl off first now, as close to 8am as possible and leave her to walk up the block…slowly. We make it to the high school in justaboutalwaysalmostexactly plenty of time. It takes the better part of an hour, which sucks after the cushy commute I’d grown accustomed to over the years. We’ve got semi-solid plans to move closer to the high school we will be driving to for the next six years of mornings. In the meantime, we have resigned ourselves to this fate.

We drop off our girl, then we turn around and sit in the left turn lane for a minute, and we see her standing at the crosswalk nervously waiting for the light. Her brother offers kind words, encouragement she can’t hear but hopefully somehow feels in their newfound sorta kinda tolerating each other better relationship. He takes out his earbuds as we pull onto the freeway. He asks about something he overheard on the news before school. We talk.

We talk!  For sixteen minutes give or take a SigAlert, we talk.

I don’t feel quite as rushed to change this.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

What? This is so awesome. You talk? That's not supposed to happen until he's 18!


And I love the image of your girl dragging her feet towards school, so as for to not be too *early*.

But the most visceral reaction I have to your post is my thumping heart. *I*'m stressed and I'm 3000 miles away. I'm gonna need a shot of Bailey's in my coffee.

Love! And such good luck.

mom said...

Oh, I wish I could help you out, but even if I lived there those freeways freak me out! I love you and Jimmy having chat time, and at least you don't have to worry about snow and ice! love, mom

Beth said...

I'm sure it was her too. The nerve.

But, hey, taking out the earbuds?! And talking?! That's something to embrace for sure.

Although the first day of school GET OOOUUUUUTTTTTT senario did give me a chuckle.