When Californians say carpool they may think about having to ride with colleagues or friends to be kinder to the Earth and to save money . When Carolineans say carpool they are most likely referring to the hell that only parents of school aged children have to endure — that dreaded early morning, mid afternoon foray into playing chauffeur for the kiddos.
So why do I do it? Buses exist, they are “free”, why not let them ride the bus? Before COVID I was hesitant because of my bad experience as a child. No one ever wanted to sit with me and the bus was smelly (it wasn’t me damn it!). It was a rough bumpy ride with no seatbelts. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. It was loud. I lived in a rural mountain community so the commute seemed to last FOREVER and most importantly some jerk hit my baby sister. NOBODY hurts my sister! Luckily we are 9 years apart so I was able to driver her to school after that incident. (PS I hit the boy that hit my sister. I would have been arrested today.)
Both kids rode the bus a bit when we moved to a community that was right across from the school. On nice days the older one walked or biked to school. The younger one loved the socialization and the ride was so short I saw no harm in it. Then COVID. That changed everything as we know it. I did carpool when they were wee ones just because they needed help and enjoyed having me blow them kisses and cheer them on every day. Now, it is more about safety.
The oldest one attends a fantastic magnet school in the next city over and a bus commute would be over an hour. I have noticed kids do not wear their masks at bus stops and lord knows what goes on inside the bus. So, I have chosen to drive her every day to give her 30 extra minutes of sleep. It’s worth the gas money to have that time with her in the car too. She eats her breakfast on our way there and we listen to music. On really good days, I get a kiss out of it!
The younger one will also be attending a magnet school but because I will already be 30 minutes away when she needs to be in school, the husband is picking up the slack and will take her to school in the mornings. I will pick up the high schooler and we will head to the middle school to bring her home. It will work out.
I am slightly regretting not pushing for Virtual Academy now that Delta is being a total b*!@# of a variant. The oldest has a great principal who is formidable and he demands every body in his building wears a mask. So far so good. I’m more worried about the younger when she starts in late August. She’s my ADHD super girl who CAN NOT KEEP HER HAND OUT OF HER MOUTH, NOSE and EARS. One good thing is that once she has the mask on she forgets to take it off so there is that.
Carpool becomes hell though because of other grown ups. In the morning and afternoon, if you don’t get there early you may be stuck out in the road because the carpool loop is NEVER long enough. There is honking, fists waving, people who do not understand what the zipper method is, entitled people, oblivious people on their phones and I swear to god, drunk or drug addled people. It is nerve wracking to say the least to jockey for a spot. If everyone was nicer it would be easier.
Still, I do it for the kiddos. It is safer for them. It has been an adjustment for me to get back on the road. I had some panic attacks and anxiety the first week but now I only sweat a little. Do you carpool?