Today we're going to talk about logistics. Moms of teens? Logistics, anyone? Ring any bells?
Okay, fasten your seatbelts, cause here we go. I've got three teens. One drives, one is mere weeks away from her official license and emancipation, and one is completely at my driving mercy for a few more years.
I'm going away for six days to a writing conference. This would be a conference for that writing career of mine that doesn't exactly pay the big bucks. Suffice it to say, my value in this family comes from my kid-shuttling skills. Sure my prose is top-notch and all (I have to say that in order to bolster my self-esteem). But while my income as a writer is imminently replaceable (as in: I could get a part-time job at the Tip Top Diner and make more money), my mere existence as the means of transporting kids to and fro is what makes me needed. And badly. I'm a heartbeat with a driver's license.
Thus my absence means one of three drivers in our cadre of makeshift jitney drivers is off the list. Dad driver has this crazy thing called a day job. Son driver has this crazy thing called school, and then varsity soccer. And of course this of all possible weeks is the week in which there are four---count 'em, four---soccer matches. Three of them out of town.
So middle daughter has the lead in the school musical, performance is two weeks away. This means she can't miss play practice at all, or she'll never get a lead again. We know how tragique that would be.
And then there's youngest. Travel soccer practice, scrimmage and game. Dad is default coach since the coach blew out of town mid-way through the year. Dad's a great coach. But there's that little thing called work he keeps missing out on.
So, Jen sets about planning, strategizing, flow charts a-flowin', spread sheets a-spreadin', all viable options in play in this schedule-rides-while-mom's-gone project. Neighbor #1 has committed youngest for three rides into school this week, mornings only. Her daughter has lacrosse practice after school so no rides home there. Neighbor #2 says he can ride daughter home two days, but two days he's out of town, can we drive his son in on one of those days and then on Monday? Hmmm. This dashes neighbor #1 for one morning because we must reciprocate #2's generosity, meaning husband must drive one day in morning. In the meantime fiance of #2 says she can leave work early to drive kids home two days, so we're set.
I'm set to leave in a matter of hours. But this morning I come down to this email from neighbor #2: "I forgot I have to take son to doctor's appointment tomorrow so can't drive your daughter home."
Damn, now must find yet another link in the chain of drivers. Meantime, husband offers to drive girls in to school this morning (son still asleep; he goes in on late shift to school, a plan devised by administrators to ensure that kids don't have faces plastered to desk catching Z's all day long). On way into town husband calls: how is older daughter going to get home from play practice today? Son has away soccer game. Dad's going to game. Only person headed our way is a girl who now gets a ride home with her sketchy boyfriend. Not the one we want her driving with. Last-minute revelation! Woman in neighborhood (who I don't know--first rule of who-drives-our-kids violated) has kid with bit part in play. We're driving her kid in two weeks to the play while they vacation in the Caribbean. I scramble to find her name in my email in-box, call her, speak with her fiance (what's with the fiances with all of these middle-aged folks in my neighborhood?), who, incidentally, has been married to two other women in the neighborhood in the ten years since I've lived here. Can first daughter ride home with your fiance? Call waiting beeps in. Husband on the phone. Okay, need ride for daughter #1 Thursday as well, as son has soccer match, youngest and Dad have soccer scrimmage, thus daughter #1 would be stranded at school indefinitely. Back to fiance on hold. Will call back after contacting ride source. Ten minutes later, rides confirmed. Two more down, who knows how many more to go?
So if you're keeping up with me (as I should be packing instead of mapping out driving logistics or writing about them) here's the deal: Got rides for youngest daughter to school three mornings but have to give up third morning to concede to neighbor who is giving rides home for four afternoons but who just rescinded a ride. Now also obligated to ride his son Monday morning, which means I can't drive my fun convertible on a warm sunny day since he'd have to be folded up like an origami crane in the backseat, which isn't so neighborly. Means I have to sacrifice and drive the banged-up ho-hum silver mini-van-from-hell. The one whose ventilation system reeks of mildew, with the lingering odor of wet dog. First daughter now has ride home with quasi-stranger---who sound nice on phone---after play practice two evenings this week. For Wednesday? Oops, I forgot. She's got a regional choral concert. Mandatory attendance. In fact they tried to jam in a make-up practice, also mandatory, for this week, but I told them they'd have to pick her up from school and drop her back home afterward. They never replied to my email. So husband now has to trek into school Wednesday to get first daughter, schlep her to concert practice, wait the two hours in town because it's not worth driving home for that time. Youngest? She'll be stuck home re-heating leftover pasta for dinner. Son? Well, at least he can do his own driving when possible. This is why we don't dare use the car as a punitive weapon in our arsenal of things-to-take-away-when-kids-don't-do-what-they're-supposed-to-do. That would only serve to punish us!
Husband just got back. "I still don't have ride home for youngest from practice today." Practice today? Damn, forgot about that! Husband is going to son's away game. How the hell is youngest getting home?
Oh, I forgot yet another thing in all of this confusion. Wednesday? Youngest is supposed to spend part of the day at the high school, where she'll be attending next year. Problem with this? Her ride is leaving at 8 a.m. and headed to another school. She doesn't have to be at the high school till 9. Son and daughter #1 won't be going in until the late shift. Which means husband now has to drive daughter, wait with her for the arrival of the buses from the middle schools to ensure that she ends up in the group with her girlfriends from the neighborhood rather than some greasy-haired, cigarette-reeking rednecks in cammo. Husband then will have to return to get her at lunch time to deliver her to her school, which is across a busy road and up a long driveway from the high school. Unless...Wait! Son! Son! Son can slip out of school for a few minutes and drive---or maybe even walk!---daughter back to her school. Where husband will have to arrive a few short hours later to pick her up anyhow, unless we can find someone else who's going our way. I think another neighbor's son drives there now, but daughter tells me he's on the golf team and they go elsewhere after school to practice. Dagnabbit!
In the meantime, I forgot to mention the haircut issue. Son says to me on Sunday: "Mom, I need a haircut. Like, badly. Like, tomorrow." Uh, son, hair salon is not open on Monday. You've got soccer all week long. How would you do this? After series of intensive and illicit text messages while he sat through AP Stats on Monday morning: text, phone salon, text, phone salon, text, phone salon, we conclude that on Thursday he can slip out of the last ten minutes of AP English, race down (though not speeding because then he'd lose his license and I'd throttle him for that!) to the hair salon, and get back in time for his mandatory presence in the stands during the JV game. Or he can go Friday after practice, at 6:45. Only problem is salon closes at 4:30 on Fridays. I guess hairdressers need happy hours (though at this point not nearly as much as I do!). We settle on the post-school, pre-game haircut. Only to have him chastise me for scheduling it then. Huh? I zipped him shut though when I told him if he didn't take that appointment, he'd have to wait at least a week, which would mean going to prom with a fresh haircut, which of course no one does...
Late yesterday school sends unexpected announcement: due to their hosting a state-wide education conference, school for older two lets out at lunchtime on Friday. What about play practice? Soccer practice? Who knows? And whatever happened to just taking the damned bus?
Saturday, youngest daughter has travel soccer match. Out of town, two hours south of here. That means dad's there too, since he's the coach. Son? Why a soccer match, of course, one hour west of here. Who schedules a high school soccer match on Saturday? In four years of his playing soccer in high school, never has there been a Saturday match. Until now. First daughter? Aside from the social life that requires transportation, and the fact that we aren't getting in her required driving time in order for her to get her official license, she has that make-up choral practice that I nixed from the get-go. And all four of them? Expected at husband's parents house for family gathering that night, two hours north of here. Which means husband will have put in six hours of driving Saturday. Make that eight, since he has to drive back that night. And in the thick of all this? I haven't even contemplated who will be tending to our needy dogs and other miscellaneous pets.
Did I mention that husband also has to be sure to feed the kids all week?
Suffice it to say Jen won't be encouraged to do any out-of-town ventures anytime soon...
It's so nice to know that I'm needed. Sort of sad that it's primarily because I am a make-shift taxi-driver, however.