Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A Light at the End of the Carpool

Kids are weird these days. They don’t seem to care about driving.  It is impossible to find someone my age who was not at the DMV on their sixteenth birthday, knocking on the glass door three hours before they actually opened, begging to take their driving test and get their license.

This is not the case for today’s sixteen-year-olds. At least, not many of them. And certainly not mine. Today’s youth don’t seem to care very much about getting their driver’s license. Some of them wait until they’re eighteen! That is certifiably insane.

I obviously blame the internet, smartphones, and text messages. Those are the big differences between how they are growing up and how we did, so they are surely the cause.

Kids today can communicate with their friends any time they want, and they have unlimited access to every video ever made of people eating weird things and guys getting accidentally hit in the nuts. As such, they don’t seem to have any need to leave the house on Friday night and go to the AM/PM and hang out in the parking lot to see those things happen live. What a bunch of freaks.

Son Number One would probably still not have his license if we hadn’t pushed the issue. We never forced him to drive if he wasn’t comfortable, because that is a recipe for roadside information exchanges and much higher insurance premiums. But we did use all of our parental cunning and wit to convince him that driving might not be so bad. (And I may have said, “Get in the damn car,” a time or two…)

And I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it was easy. My wife refused to help with the driver training out of fear for her own life, so it was up to me. Early on in the process I formed a support group with the other dads of teen drivers in our neighborhood. It was mostly just a lot of beer and wide-eyed tales of merging gone wrong, but it helped to know I was not alone.  

Anyway, there was a very good reason for us cajoling our oldest son into getting his license, and it wasn’t because we love higher insurance premiums. It was carpool.

I have been driving kids to school in the carpool for roughly two hundred years now, and it’s starting to lose its luster. I actually enjoyed it when it started long ago, but that enjoyment has now been firmly replaced with dread and dismal monotony.

The bright side is, with Son Number One’s license, I have reduced my total number of school carpools from two down to one, and this is the last year I will have to drive carpool ever again. Son Number Three will be at the high school with his older brothers next year, and will be responsible for not pissing them off enough to get left at home. If he fails at that, he knows where we keep the bikes. Yay!

It’s hard for me to express the joy I feel when I think of never driving carpool again, but to try to put it into monetary terms, it is totally worth the $28,000/month that it costs to insure a sixteen-year-old male to drive a 2003 Ford Expedition.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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