Do you ever have to stop and remind yourself that you actually chose to become a parent? I mean, at some point in your life, you decided that you were responsible enough to not only take care of yourself, but another human being. And not just for a little while. Forget that idea that once your kids hit 18, they're outta there. More and more kids are living at home with their parents well into their 20's - and beyond.
Like most good little girls raised in the 1970's, I grew up thinking that someday I'd be a mother to a charming little brood of my own. We'd bake cookies, play with Barbies, and paint our toenails together. Someday I'd help my daughter buy the perfect prom dress. It was going to be so fun!
Okay, so looking back, it's obvious I thought I'd be the mother to angelic little girls. I guess that thinking comes from growing up as one of 4 girls. Oddly, NONE of my sisters and I have had a girl. It's boys all around. 7 boys between us, in fact.
So, fast forward to the present day. There are no Barbies at my house, and if I want my toenails painted, I have to do that locked in my bathroom so nobody drives a toy car over them while they're drying. The last batch of cookies I made were coughed into by a snotty-nosed 3 year old who was "helping". (Usually, he sneezes into whatever we're baking. It's kind of his thing.)
And I carpool kids to school. A looooooog way. Because, I chose to send my child to a charter school that's 15 miles from my house instead of the regular old public school that's just around the corner. This is another thing I remind myself of quite frequently.
But it's a good thing. Really. When else would I get to hear all these choice little nuggets of wisdom emanating from the backseat of my Honda?
Our carpool is comprised of Zachary, my 6 year old first grader, Wesley, the well-behaved quiet kid, who's in 2nd grade, and from his description, obviously is not my child, and my 3 year old, Noah who's just along for the ride.
Last year, instead of Wesley, we had Dallin in our carpool. Dallin and Zachary were in the same kindergarten class, so every day at 11:35 we'd leave for school and I'd spend the next 30 minutes or so listening to Dallin and Zachary's incessant arguing about whose homework was neater, whose shoes were cooler, and whose mother was "bigger". I came to find out that "bigger" meant "older".
I won. Yay for me.
There were 'Who can scream the loudest?' contests and lots of pulling over for lectures.
I also learned a new little game boys play with which I, as a girl with sisters only, was unfamiliar. It's entitled "Does this hurt?" and goes a little something like this:
1st boy: Does this hurt? (punching other little boy in the arm).
2nd boy: No, but does this hurt? (returning the punch, only a little harder).
1st boy: Nope. How about this? (followed by an even harder punch).
The game escalates with progressively painful blows until it peaks with a final:
"Okay, does THIS (between clenched teeth) hurt?"
Then, the sobbing begins, along with a whiny sing-songed, "Mo-om, he HIT me!"
So, by the end of last school year, I was counting down the days until summer vacation like a school aged child myself. Not because I could hardly wait to spend the entire day with my child, but because driving the carpool was slowly driving me insane. By the time I reached the school each day, I practically slammed on the breaks throwing both kids from the car and yelling "Get out NOW!"
But this year, because I drive a Honda and have a limited supply of seat belts, our carpool has changed. Dallin can now ride to school in the morning with his brothers and sisters, and Wesley comes with us each morning so his mother doesn't have to take so many trips to the school each day. In addition to Wesley, she has a son who's in afternoon kindergarten and already has to drive to the school then.
It's a very welcome change.
Wesley, the new kid, really is quiet. And polite. And really, really tall - for a second grader. In fact, because Zachary no longer has Dallin to argue with, there are days when we drive to school in complete silence. I don't know if Zachary is intimidated by Wesley's height or if they just don't have anything in common.
Here's a sampling of today's witty conversation:
Me: So, Wesley, do you play soccer?
Wesley: Um, yeah. Well, I used to play soccer. Then I played baseball. Now I'm going to play football.
Zachary: Tackle football?
Wesley: No, flag football. You have to use both hands to touch...
(Blah, blah, blah. Because it's sports related, this is where I tuned out.)
Zachary: So there's not actually a flag?
Then Wesley went on to describe some sports he's participated in. My son, Zachary, who so far isn't very athletic and seems to be feeling a little left out decides to chime in with a little description of his own skills.
Zachary: Well, um, I have some cool dance moves I can do. I'm not allowed to do them at school, and I can't show you them now because I'm sitting down.
Me: What? Really? Cool dance moves?
Zachary: Yeah. I can kick really high and stuff. My teacher says I'm only allowed to do it at home.
At this point I'm trying to suppress my giggling while imagining my son showing off his "moves" in front of his class and brand new teacher. I'm sure they're impressive if she suggests he save them for home. Hopefully he'll be willing to show them to me this afternoon.
Another conversation had to do with college, only my kids don't quite understand the concept yet. My husband has told them that someday they can be Cougars (the mascot of the university he wants them to attend), so sometimes they talk about what they want to do when they are Cougars. Zachary has decided he wants to be a fireman, so he mentioned that he hopes they'll teach him to slide down the pole when he's a Cougar. Wesley says he wants to be a scientist. (Of course he does.) Zachary thinks about this for a moment and says, "Like that guy on the blender website?"
(If you've never seen it, you MUST check out willitblend.com There's a man who's created some super sonic blender and has videotaped himself putting random objects in it to see if they will blend. It's totally entertaining and I highly recommend it! However, it's probably in your best interest not to show it to your children, not because there's anything objectionable on the website, but because they will get ideas of things to test in your blender.)
Finally, from the backseat my 3 year old son Noah announces that he wants to be a "Mommy who drives a car."
Yes, we're a little worried about him.