When Good Carpools Go Very, Very Bad

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.


Don’t miss a post. Subscribe here

25 responses to “When Good Carpools Go Very, Very Bad”

  1. Anyone who knows anything about us knows that MELISSA’S CALENDAR & SCHEDULE IS ALWAYS RIGHT (mine is more of a rough sketch). This kind of makes it much too easy for me, but left to myself I’m capable of epic screwups. We had a conversation recently that started with Melissa mentioning something about being in Tennessee.
    “When are you going to Tennessee?” I ask
    “Next week.”
    “You are?”
    “For how long?”
    “Four days.”
    “That’s not in my calendar.”
    Melissa didn’t bother responding because my last statement was just a matter of form. At this point, my cluelessness no longer seems to phase either of us.

    Yours is kind of reassuring.

  2. Anyone who thinks they can do a better job than you (at carpooling or anything else, for that matter) is welcome to pitch in and lend a hand.

  3. OK.
    So, we have this “cafe pre-pay” website, whereby we pay for our son’s school lunches online. Last year, he kept telling me that he had no more money in his account, and he had to eat PB&J because that’s what they give the kids with no lunch money. So I got in mama bear how-dare-you-treat-my-child-like-an-outcast-and-make-him-eat-PB&J-without-ever-notifying-us-that-his-account-was-low mode, and emailed the school secretary, to get to the bottom of this. She forwarded my email to the lunch person, who promptly emailed me back. Which is when I found out that EVERY TIME my son’s lunch account gets low, they send an email to my husband’s (old) email account, which is apparently the email that we had given them at the beginning of the school year. The email that my husband now ignores, because he’s moved on. That was slightly embarrassing.
    When he was in pre-school, I was appalled to discover that he was supposed to be there on time. “On time” was not convenient for us, and anyway, weren’t we paying them? Jeesh. I guess I’ll be in class with you guys. And I’ll be late, too.

    • Oh, and with my first set of kids? I gathered them all up one day to go to the movies, and after we paid and were getting ready to go into our theater, the manager, who was taking the tickets, looked at my younger son and then looked at me and said in a very offensive tone “HE’S GOT NO SHOES ON!” And then he shook his head, like I was a terrible, terrible person to not have noticed this myself. He let us stay “this time.” For the record, there was no sign indicating that shoes were required.
      I could go on……………

  4. Well…at least you didn’t forget to pick them up! A few months into the school year when my son was in first grade, I got a call from his teacher asking who was coming to pick him up from school. I looked at the clock and realized that school gets out at 3:00 not 3:30. I was just hanging out at home waiting for the time to leave to pick him up. Of course I had 2 sleeping girls so I frantically called my friend and neighbor as I was running to get shoes and keys and purse to come over and keep an eye on them so I could go and pick him up. It took a long time for him to stop telling the story “remember when mommy forgot to pick me up from school?”
    So very glad I am not alone in the craziness of mommyhood.

  5. Beth–at least you have an excuse!!! I’ve seen you while dropping off kids several times…and I knew full well school starts at 8:30. I was just glad you also were running just a tad (10-12 minutes) late… =)

  6. Beth – It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to read your blog. What a great one to start with. I’m about to wet my pants laughing. At least you remembered to pick up the kids you were responsible for. I was indoctrinated into the world of carpooling last year and on my very first scheduled shift, I got confused. I left three 4th grade boys at the swimming pool by themselves unsupervised for 45 minutes, all the while wondering why the other mom was so late picking them up when it was supposed to be me. Oops.

  7. Beth,

    I’m a good friend of Shannon Driscoll. I was telling her about the tooth fairy squeaking into my daughter’s room by the fine fur of her wings the other day. She said “you have to read my friends blog.” I have fallen in love. You are so creative!! I look forward to every one of your screw ups because I know it will be hilarious. I can either relate to or learn from each of your posts. I have 4 children. Two from my first marriage and two from this one. My oldest two are going to be 21 and 18 this year, while my younger two are 6 and 3. I enjoyed it so much the first time I thought I’d do it again. No, I didn’t learn anything the first time, because I continue to make the same mistakes. Yes, I’m crazy. But I have learned to look at the comical side of every en devour by reading your stories. Thank you for making me laugh. We all need comic relief once in a while. I’m looking forward to your outlook on the teenage years. We had some tough times. I’m finding a lot of my friends are experiencing the same things I did. So, if you ever need advice… Again, I love you and your writing. Have a great time in Vegas.

    • Welcome, Jennifer! And thank you so much for introducing yourself and saying you’re here. That’s always my favorite!

      I love this “I enjoyed it so much the first time I thought I’d do it again. No, I didn’t learn anything the first time, because I continue to make the same mistakes.” Because I’ve found that being an experienced mom doesn’t mean I know MORE, it just means that I can relax into the not knowing and the doing the best I can. Solidarity along the way, mama, that’s what it’s all about, and you’ve got it in spades.

      Thanks so much for saying hello, and I hope we get to hear more from you.


  8. This was SOOOO worth the wait!!
    I would volunteer to help set up the NSSU seminar, and then forget about until it was about to happen and panic because the things I committed to do haven’t even been started.
    I too will be 15mins late…

  9. HA HA HA HA HA!!! I was wondering why you’re always dropping off your vanfull when I’m dropping off Finley. I just figured the classes started at the same time. Ha hahba ha ha ha ha!!!

  10. I think Not Screwing Stuff Up would be an amazing seminar. I would totally plan on going, but I would put the date down wrong. Then I’d be scrambling to find a babysitter and something that isn’t a nursing shirt and too-big jeans to wear so I’d look presentable. I’d probably totally forget to bring a notebook (like I did to a board meeting last week!) and just have to try to pay attention to learn things, but end up sitting there panicking instead about how I forgot a notebook and my shirt is too tight and is the baby ok? Ugh.

    I would also show up 15 mins late, so save me a seat!

    • You’re in the back row, babe, with Fiona and me! We’ll bring contraband snacks and we’ll save some spitwads for you and when you leak through your nursing shirt, we’ll only giggle a teeny, tiny bit and then we’ll escort you to the bathroom where we’ll debate whether it’s better to stuff your nursing bra with toilet paper or paper towels based on absorbancy rates. And we’ll all turn our shirts backwards in solidarity before we go back to class, pretending that backwards shirts is the latest fashion trend and not a desperate attempt to not have breastmilk stains in the front. Because that’s the kind of friends we are.

      • You just made me laugh SO HARD. Thanks!

        I can not tell you how many college classes I took where I sat in the back row with my pop tarts. And no worries, I generally wear tank tops with a cardigan, so backwards won’t matter and the cardigan will cover up stains. I am SO there.

  11. Further to my previous comment, I thought you would like to know that I have just walked back from the aforementioned nursery pushing a child in a buggy equipped with inadequately inflated tyres. This made the journey a little…wobbly? Wonky? Slower than usual? I can only guess that this is my punishment for planning to attend the NSSU seminar but not to take it sufficiently seriously, indulging instead in note-passing and mirth. And my husband commented only a few days ago that the tyres were looking quite low and needed blowing up; clearly I didn’t pay the requisite attention then either. Sending solidarity to you! xxx

  12. Oh Beth! You’re brilliant! Can I come to the seminar with you? We’ll sit in the back and pass notes and giggle and be naughty, and just hope that some of the handy hints and tips for Not Screwing Stuff Up enter our heads somehow. And now I must go and wade through all the mess on my kitchen floor and see if there’s a single clean plate on which to serve my son his lunch before taking him to nursery. Thank you for today’s giggle! xxx

    • YES! I will SO go to that class with you. Can it please be in the U.K…. wait, cancel that… meet me in the Bahamas. It’s about 1/2 way between us and I’m CERTAIN we’d learn more in class in the Bahamas.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.