Thursday, November 19, 2009

Should I stay or should I go now?

The carpool has been getting a little out of hand lately.

(Truthfully, that's probably the understatement of the year.) It's been a complete and utter zoo.

And it's sucking my will to live.

I know I've said it before, but our carpool is no ordinary 5 or 10 minute commute. Each morning is a 12 mile expedition. Yes, 12 grueling miles with 5 children, each with their own personalities and often annoying characteristics.

What a way to start each day. Is it any wonder that I hit the snooze button several times each morning before woefully prying my reluctant carcass from beneath the covers?

Now, in our carpool, the decibel level, in my opinion, is really reaching unsafe levels for me to safely operate the vehicle. I should point out that as the mother of only 2 children myself, and as the second daughter in a family of 4 reasonably well behaved girls, I am just not equipped to handle that much noise. Particularly in such a small, enclosed area, and so close to my head.

In addition to the noise, there's the fighting. The fighting! I often find myself confiscating folders and water bottles and pencils and any other object that could be turned into a weapon to cause bodily harm.

(And really, with boys, any object can become a deadly I right?)

I don't know how you parents in large families do it day in and day out because I get exhausted just thinking about it.

For a while I've been debating the proper way to handle this situation and the way I see it, I basically have two alternatives:

Option A - Each time the children act in such a way that I find it hard to concentrate on the task of driving, I pull over and give the children yet another tongue lashing about the dangers of a distracted driver. Perhaps the driver's ed. department from my local high school could provide me with some graphic visual aids (remember those?!) that would really help the message hit home. And then we sit and wait until it's quiet enough to continue our journey, each second ticking on the clock just another second that they could have spent playing on the playground at school had they gotten there a little earlier.

Option B - I put the pedal to the metal and drive like a bat out of hell to significantly shorten the time the youngsters will actually remain in my car.

And both options have their disadvantages.

I mean, sometimes it's just not safe or feasible to pull over, what with all the construction they've been doing lately. And, since I've already tried this option many, many, many times already, it seems apparent that it's just not working.

Yesterday morning, while the kids were loading into the car, I reminded them that I expect good behavior, courtesy, respect, and heck, WORLD PEACE when I'm driving them to school. So imagine my horror when it was my own two children that started whacking each other with school supplies around mile 6 of our journey to the point where I had to pull over and get all psycho-mom in their faces.

Perhaps I need to print up and post a list of the rules in my car since no one seems to be able to remember them for any length of time. I guess I thought that most of them were just plain common sense, but we all know sense isn't so common these days..

Hmm, let's see:

Rule #1: If it isn't yours, don't touch it. This applies to all personal property including backpacks, folders, lunches, water bottles, jackets, seats, and most importantly, body parts.

Rule #2: No tattling. Seriously. I so don't want to hear it. Don't come whining to me that somebody punched you, because I'm guessing it's because you totally deserved it.

Rule #3: Zip it. No screeching, hollering, bellowing, or singing of that awful song with the alternative lyrics about Barney that's been so wildly popular in the car for the past few days. Ugh. And no jokes about body parts or functions. I get enough of that at home.

And really, that's about it. If those 3 basic rules were followed, it would be a delight to cart those kids around.

No really, it would. There was a day that I remember distinctly when the kids were laughing and singing in unison to a Raffi cd I'd checked out from the library. It was brief, but it was beautiful.

And it didn't last. Soon they were arguing over which song to listen to next and making up their own unpleasant lyrics to the songs using each other's names. The punching began, then the tattling. And the Raffi cd eventually had to go back to the library.

I suppose the next time the chaos starts in the car, and I'm ready to completely lose it, I can hang onto the lovely memory of 5 children cheerfully singing about "llamas eating their pajamas, down by the bay".


Raejean said...

Maybe you could threaten them with classical music if they misbehave? I've heard it cuts down on punks hanging out on street corners :)

Maureen said...

Back packs in the trunk - no projectiles at hand. I find that game boys keep my kids so hyper focused that they wouldn't notice if the house fell down around them.

Beth said...

I like the backpacks in the trunk idea. Maybe you could check out picture books on tape and let one child hold the pictures up. They would have to be quiet to hear the story line. Pulling over would sure send a message. Maybe let them earn a sticker at the end of the ride to put on a chart and earn a prize together.
If it still doesn't get better, you could always pull out of the carpool and just drive your own boys (one in the 2nd row, and one in the third row). It would cost more in gas, but may be worth it for your sanity.

The Crazy Cat Lady said...

I also thought of putting the backpacks in the truck, or just getting out of the carpool all together. Maybe you need permission from the other parents to smack their butts if they act up.

Natalie said...

Here's the thing, we no longer really have a trunk. There's just the space behind the back seat, and then the door. I suppose if the kids were required to put and leave their belongings back there under threat of death, it just might work. I've also considered making them pay me when they get out of line, as in, "Tattling kid, you owe me a buck!"

Nancy, you're gonna be an awesome mom! ;)

MamaBug said...

Opera. (And confiscate the backpacks.) :D