When Good Carpools Go Very, Very Bad

Mar 6 2012

Hypothetically speaking, wouldn’t it be HILARIOUS if you found out, oh, say, 6 months into the school year that you had the school start-time wrong and that you’ve been dropping your kids – and all of the other kids in your carpool – off 15 minutes late for school EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU HAD CARPOOL DUTY ALL YEAR LONG?

That would be really funny.

If that happened.

To you.

My cousin came over for dinner on Friday. We ate cheap pizza. The kind with loads of gummy cheese, a squishy crust, and pepperoni so scarce you’d think it’s linked to gold and gas prices in our current economy. Precious commodity! Must. Conserve. Pepperoni.

Through our mouthfuls, we worked out the carpool plan for the week to come. See, we’re going on a trip together this week so it’ll be up to the husbands to do all of their usual work, plus ours.

“So, Greg,” I said, “you’ll need to take our boys and pick up the cousin boy by 8:25 or so. That’ll give you a few minutes to make your way to Kate’s house to pick her up and still be at the preschool well before 8:45. OK?”

“What?” interrupted my cousin with a little bit of an unreasonable incredulous voice. “Why would you have them at school by 8:45?”

“Becuuuhhhhzzzz… that’s when school starts.” I didn’t actually say the “duh” because it was heavily implied in my tone. Seriously. She had that tone coming. I’ve been running the very same harried schedule since school started in September. It’s not like this is news to her. I pick her kid up between 8:20-8:25 every Monday and Tuesday which gives me plenty of buffer to have the kids to school on time. I mean, sure, there are days I’m running behind, but I do the best I can, and the kids have only arrived at school after the 8:45 start time once or quince, so I think it’s pretty nit-picky of her to imply that they should be very much earlier than 8:45, you know?

“Beth?” She said it cautiously, like I was standing on a ledge or starting to drool foam. “School starts at 8:30.”

And then we did this:

“No it doesn’t.”

“Yes. It does.”

“No it doesn’t.”

“Yes. It does.”

“No. It doesn’t.”

“Yes. It does.”

We’ve both had training in conflict resolution, so we totally knew what we were doing.

“No it doesn’t,” I insisted, because the strength of my argument was in my vehemence. And also because my stomach was twisting with the dawning fear that I was horribly, terribly wrong. “It starts at 8:45. I’ve been dropping four preschoolers off between 8:37 and 8:44 for 6 months now. I think I’d know if school starts earlier than that.”

“It starts at 8:30. It has since the beginning of the year.”

“No. Look at my calendar. I have it written down. 8:45. The teacher is still waiting out front when we get there.”

“Your calendar is wrong. It starts at 8:30. And the teacher is waiting out front for you to get there with our kids.”

“No. Look at the school website. School starts at… … WHAT? SCHOOL STARTS AT 8:30?! SINCE WHEN?”

Then I freaked out for 25 minutes. Which is way, way less time than all the time I’ve wasted by dropping our kids off really super late all year long. And delaying the start of the preschool day for the entire class. All of whom should demand a tuition refund at my expense.

And I think, perhaps, that I have the nicest friends in all of the universe. Because they never, in all that time, mentioned that I’m a complete carpool failure. And that I should have my carpool badge revoked. And that I should go to remedial mom training for lessons in timeliness and, you know, not screwing stuff up.

So if anyone’s offering that class – Not Screwing Stuff Up – please let me know. I will sign myself up. STAT. And then I will arrive at class 15 minutes late.