As a mom of a first grader and preschooler, I spend A LOT of time in my car. Waiting in carpool line can seem interminable, especially with little miss who is passing time with me in the back seat. It wasn't really something I factored into our school decision, but it's become a fact of life. Unfortunately, it's one of my least favorite facts!
As we wait, I can't help but start doing the math–making myself feel awful as I watch my life tick away one carpool at a time. If I average 20 minutes in line each day, that adds up to more than an hour and a half each week sitting in my car waiting–multiply it by the number of weeks of school and we're talking major time. At least once per week, I'm in line for a solid hour to be near the front and get my daughter early to make it to swim class on time. I'm lucky that my husband does the morning drop off most days, so that doesn't have to figure into my carpool calculus. But of course, I dwell on what else I could be accomplishing. Writing perhaps?!
I try to make the most of the time by reading or listening to (kid-friendly!) podcasts or audiobooks. But sometimes, I make a rookie mistake and leave my book at home or am all out of audio choices, so my mind drifts in bizarre directions. As I start looking around, I notice the weirdest things–the preponderance of white vehicles for example. Is that a trend? Or a Louisiana thing? Once, I counted at least 10 cars, trucks, and vans in my immediate vicinity that were white with more dotted throughout the line. What's up with that?
The environmental impacts of our collective carpool line cross my mind as I look around at the other gas guzzling vehicles, some of which remain on for the entire wait. I usually shut off my engine when we're going to be stopped for a while, but when it's blazing hot outside, I sometimes choose comfort over environment! If only there were a more eco-friendly way we could all get our children safely home…group transportation perhaps? Pool our money to make it happen? Surely what we spend collectively on gas during carpool would be enough to get all our kids home? I think I may have just invented a school bus route while staring at the back of another mom's van.
As I ponder and fidget, scroll, or toss snacks back to little sister, I also see high schoolers leaving campus, some with younger siblings or babysitting charges. More than once it has crossed my mind that an entrepreneuring older student could make a killing by offering to check out the kids and walk them to their cars. At our school, all it takes is the little carpool number tag. I'd definitely pay $1/kid/day to avoid the line and move on with my life. I realize there are safety implications and it's entirely unrealistic, but still, I dream.
For now, I'll continue my mental math and look on the sunny side of life–I have a car to get my kid to and from school, and she's receiving a great education–even as the never-changing view from my windshield can feel so, so bleak.
If you have carpool tips, hit me up in the comment box on the right.