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If you’re from Florida, don’t blink, because if you do, you’re sure to close your eyes in summer and open them to the start of school. What? When did this happen? It’s August! Miami—and to quote our very own hometown celebrity Lisa Petrillo—is “uninhabitable” in the summer so imagine bypassing the bathing suit for a clingy, polyester uniform and suffering a mild stroke in PE while lugging books and backpacks to the steamy, hot car. But that’s not what I’m going to blog about today. No one cares much about Miami these days, though I will talk about a hot car.
The twins started high school this week. I could easily write a blog about how junior high school now goes by the name middle school, and what once began in tenth grade, now begins in ninth. As though kids today aren’t already growing up too fast we have to push them into an environment with kids who are by no means kids anymore. Have you ever witnessed a ninth grader walk down the hall with a pack of twelfth graders? Jarring.
For the last fourteen years, our boys have attended a Jewish day school less than a mile from our front door. Today, we drove them 16.2 miles along two densely populated highways to their new school. Regardless of the reasons we chose this geographically undesirable school, like many of us, it boiled down to being the best choice for our family. So when the time came to discuss transportation to this distant zip code, I was suddenly swept up in some interesting dialogue. Don’t underestimate the power of public opinion.
Like many topics I’ve blogged about in the past, all parents alike have a set of rules and parameters they’ve instituted for their individual family. Decisions about schooling and discipline should, at best, be made to reflect the greater good of the family. I’ve learned as I’ve quietly aged through my forties that we don’t have to conform to what others are doing; decisions are best made in the interests of our kids and our threshold for messes. Each of our kids are different and, we as parents, are different. There is no one-size-fits-all in terms of parenting. So when I declared that I would be driving our boys to this distant universe, I was met with the following:
“What do you mean you’re driving them?”
“Yep, we’re a crazy bunch.”
“It’s so far!”
“I know. And I’m going to step into my hot car and maneuver it toward I-95 every morning for the twenty-two minute drive (and that’s without traffic).”
“There’s a bus.”
“Yes, I know.”
“And a private van service. ”
And so on. I think you get it.
I’ve had time to think about this drive. We’ve been spoiled with our nominal commute since Mommy & Me. I don’t have a full-time job which requires me to clock-in at an office, and as a writer, I have the freedom and flexibility to write on my laptop wherever and whenever the desire strikes. I had illusions of dropping the boys off and heading over to the Barnes & Noble (since we all know my neighborhood has no bookstore in sight) and writing amongst the classic authors for inspiration. Four years. High school is a mere four years. I can do this. There are moms who have been driving the drive since Pre-K.
Better yet, the boys would receive their driver’s license in 18 months. Do the math ladies. I have eighteen months of my babies in my car. Eighteen months times twenty-two minutes there and twenty-two minutes back and that’s a lifetime of conversation and closeness I will never get again. I want those minutes. I want them safely tucked into the confines of my hot car universe where I know they do their best opening up. Granted, the mornings are spent with one of them bobbing his head against the window in half-sleep, but the afternoons, the afternoons are magical. The boys do their best sharing when they don’t have to look me in the eye and the surrounding environment and speed of our vehicle keeps us—mostly me—from getting fraught with emotion. Where I hear them talk amongst themselves, recapping their days, laughing, and including me in their speak, I know I have made the right choice for our family.
Not to say that it’s all going to be peachy and they’re never going to bicker with one another or yell at me for something like driving too slow, or the traffic that is sure to impede the trip and make us all dislike each other in our hot car. That will all happen too. But they know I won’t clobber them over the head while I’m driving a moving vehicle on a major interstate. We are safe in our moving cocoon.
You ask why I drive my kids to school. I’m never going to get these moments back. Ever. So it sucks and it’s long and it takes me away from things that may be more exciting or relaxing, but I am Mom first and my job is to these boys. And I love my job.
Yes, it is day four of our commute in hot car.
Remind me of all of this in a month.