Friday, March 16, 2012

Lectures from the Minivan

Among her peers, the Matron's feats of herculean driving can be the object of pity, disdain or admiration -- depending on mood and vision. You see, the Matron, by and large, drives her children to where they want to go.

Hunger Games cast at Mall of America with over 8000 young fans in attendance, many of whom spent the night in line for a chance to breath Hunger Air?

No. If somebody else's parent wants to navigate that disaster: have fun, sweetie! But not she.

Over 200 trips to the Children's Theatre Company so that your daughter can appear in a title role in a production?


How about the same number -- 200 or so -- of trips so your child can be in the ensemble of a theatre production and not the star?


Debate, tennis, hockey, driver's ed, friends' houses, sleepovers, school, auditions, head shots, commercials, baseball, swimming, ice cream socials, allergist, dentist, doctor, blacksmith (just to see if you're reading), piano lessons -- the Matron has even driven a sixty mile round trip to yo-yo lessons. Not that these happen all during the same era -- but you get the drift. Lots and lots and lots of driving.

Scarlett wants to see a play? The Matron drives her. He Who Cannot be Named needs to work on a video project with a friend across town? The Matron drives him. Merrick's friends live on the other side of town? Hop in the van.

Not infrequently, the driving annoys her.

Scarlett has been largely in productions for the past five years. Performances at professional companies can mean 10:30 pick-ups on a school night; this is part of the family fabric. The Matron drives her youngest to school every single day and picks him up (there's no bus service but public school).

She knows many parents who put their foots down far, far ahead of Events of Mass Hysteria like the Mall of America event the Matron recently vetoed. In fact, she's probably driven their children.

The Matron doesn't particularly enjoy Life on the Urban Road but she flatly refuses to consider her willingness to export her children leniency or indulgence (as is sometimes construed or accused).

Let's take the word 'urban' for a moment. The Matron lives smack dab in the middle of the city, a walk from downtown. This means that friends are far-flung. Kids attending the elementary school live within a ten mile radius -- not ten city blocks. Want to take a swimming lesson? There is no 'neighborhood pool' but the cheapest, most convenient lessons that are offered a few miles away. Audition for a play in your hometown? If the hometown contains a quarter million people, chances are that a child can't hoof it to the theater.

Let's take the word 'no' for a moment. No: your mother is not going to drive you forty miles for a sleepover planned just yesterday. No: Not driving during rush hour so you can see that movie.

But? No: I'm not making the 50 trips necessary for you to be in this play, participate on this team, be a debater? No, I'm not going to drive so you can go to the best public school possible and make you attend the crummy neighborhood school instead?

The Matron just says no to that no. Indulgent. You bet. Indulging dreams and the expansive task of building a future.

Added bonus? The captive adolescent audience is sometimes able to tolerate nostalgic trips down parental memory lane, particularly if stuck in rush hour traffic just long enough.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I drove for everything. Frequently I drove children whose parents refused to drive for anything.

I have spent 10 years driving my daughter's best friend to and from her father's house where she spends weekends.

It's work, but the reward is that the kids KNOW you care, because you show it by driving. I am much closer to my kids friends/teammates than many of the other parents because we bonded in the car.

Ellen Lansky said...

I've been thinking a lot about my commitment to driving (daily trips across town to drop off and pick up child at school plus the usual piano lessons, trips to Target etc) which I also view as an indulgence and a necessity. My car started making an alarming noise yesterday afternoon, and it made me realize that not only am I dependent on my car (whatever), but that the car is a family member & a trip to the mechanic is not all that different from a trip to the pediatrician.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Doesn't seem odd - you drive for what is important, say no to things that aren't. Makes sense to me!

Navhelowife said...

I think one of the best things about driving is that you sometimes become part of the car....and you hear things they wouldn't say otherwise.

Irene said...

Some of the best times together can be shared with your children in a car on a long enough trip. Enjoy it while you can. Life is short.

Do you have to have that awful word verification?

Minnesota Matron said...

Took off the word verification!