Parenting is an interesting journey. No matter how many kids you have and their ages, you’ve got a lot of fun ahead of you. And a lot of responsibility. And a lot of exhaustion. Consider all of this before diving in to read what Leslie shares here about chauffeuring her youngest around town. She’s got some great and entertaining ideas!
There’s no question that parents raise their youngest child differently than they do their oldest. A few of the somewhat meaningless standards of parenting that we find so important early on are apt to fall by the wayside with our next babies. Anyone who denies this truth is either lying to you or to themselves. And, without a doubt, the further apart your children are spaced, and the more kids you have — the greater the disparity. With a 14-year chasm between our oldest and youngest, our Childrearing Metamorphosis is shockingly pronounced. There are certainly moments when we are barely recognizable as the same set of parents.
Case in point: when our oldest was six, I was standing outside her first grade classroom with a group of mothers. The topic of discussion was an upcoming field trip to the zoo and which mothers would be willing to drive. My hand shot right up. I couldn’t volunteer fast enough. My natural impulse was, “Pick me! Pick me!” One of my daughter’s classmate’s mother was a battle-hardened veteran mom, whose 1st grader was her fifth and youngest child. She responded, quite emphatically, “You couldn’t pay me to drive that field trip!” I was horrified by her cynicism and lack of enthusiasm. Sharing my observation with my husband the second he got home, I lamented in despair, “Why would a person even have children, if that’s their attitude?”
Fast forward 23 years and here’s what I know:
When a young girl/woman becomes a mommy, she optimistically believes that her duties are going to be 90 percent molding and shaping character, with approximately 10 percent tedious administrative-style parenting responsibilities sprinkled in. And that’s exactly wrong. Backwards, in fact. As a parent, you spend 90 percent of your time driving your children around. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the rare opportunity to influence your youngsters in any meaningful way. Maybe less than 10 percent of the time. Perhaps.
I would suggest to you that you’re a glorified chauffeur, but I think glorified is overstating things a bit…
One recent Saturday night, our 15-year-old son, the youngest of our five children, went to a local teen hangout place with a group of friends. One of his friends’ parents volunteered to drive them there. Since they were all spending the night at our house later, we let the other parents know that we would be responsible for getting the boys home. We figured it would be around midnight; Saturday Night Live would be over and we knew we would, at best, be trying to hold our eyes open. That’s when my husband had an epiphany and suggested that we have our son download the Uber app to his phone.
After I worked through my initial resistance, my hurdle was to sell our plan to the First-Time-Teen-Parents. These folks are just now entering the Teen Scene from the parenting side of things, and are not yet jaded, nor sufficiently burned-out. I feel uniquely qualified to reason with these parents, because I was them just a few short years ago.
I went at it from this angle: “This is the ideal time for the boys to Uber! No one is desperate right now, so we can always go fetch them if there’s a problem. But this way, in the future, they’ll have the app on their phones, and they’ll know the ropes. If they ever do need to Uber, (for whatever reason), they’ll be confidently familiar with how it works!”
For further persuasion, I added, “Take it from me, don’t blink, the day they NEED an Uber will be here sooner than you think!”
My friend, (mother to one of my son’s buddies — her firstborn son) listened to my logic and said, “Give me a minute to marinate on that…”
I responded, “Take all the time you need!” I wasn’t too concerned. My hubby and I had already agreed that the parent who nixed our Uber plan was going to end up driving the midnight pick-up shift themselves.
But my friend saw the light! The group of boys Ubered home and were safely in my den, killing villains on our Xbox by midnight.
What I didn’t see coming, was the following weekend. It was late on a Saturday night, we were out to dinner with friends, and we received a text from our son asking if he could Uber over to his friend’s house. We looked at one another and shrugged. Other than the friend’s parents thinking we sucked, we could find no legitimate reason to say no. For $5 he Ubered over and a few hours later, $5 got him right back home.
Now, I find myself reminiscing over my entire 29 years of parenting and wondering where the hell Uber has been all these years. I could just cry thinking about how many tennis lessons, dance classes and football practices I dragged a breastfeeding infant or a screaming toddler to, after stuffing them into my mini-van in order to transport their older sibling somewhere. Uber could’ve been right up there with Sonic, fruit snacks and Disney Videos on my list of Approved Parenting Tools.
I mean, they thoroughly vet those Uber drivers, right? I see no reason why my daughter couldn’t have been Ubered around town the year she sold a record number of Girl Scout cookies. No amount of money would’ve been too much to pay for that service!
Suffice it to say, I’m uber into Ubering. It’s rapidly gone from being an adjective and a noun in my home to a verb. And, I’ll even go a step further — in the course of driving my kid around, if one of those Uber drivers chances to notice a character issue in one of my kids that they think needs a little tweak, I encourage them to address it. At this stage of the game, I’m obviously not above a little assistance.
For more middle-aged child rearing and marriage humor from Leslie find her at agingersnapped.com. This post was originally featured there.