At some point in every parent’s life comes the realization that they have inexplicably assumed a new job. They didn’t fill out an application form, or search for it on any career website. This is a job that, over time, has with great stealth become enmeshed in a parent’s very being. Suddenly, as you drive your child from school to hockey, or dance lessons, or a friend’s house, or whatever happens to fill their extracurricular schedule, you realize that you have assumed the mantle of chauffeur.
Some parents are excellent chauffeurs. Effortlessly managing their time they get their passengers to each and every event without fail. They’re never late and they never look harried.
And then there’s me.
On the days when it’s my turn to take the kids to school, I take several moments to get my bearings straight. In the past, they went to the same school and it was easy to keep track of where to take them. Now, I have to make sure that I drop them off in the right order and on time.
Lydia is the shepherd of the family. She gets us all moving on schedule. However, on these days she’s already gone but, before she leaves, I’m usually given a written list of things to do throughout the day.
I don’t know how it happens but we always seem to run out of time. I’ll check the clock and see there’s a half hour before we need to leave and then - POOF! - suddenly forty minutes have passed.
“Let’s go!” I’ll shout.
The three of us rush out the door as though hordes of zombies are after us. Naturally, this haste leaves room for error. Lunches and band instruments are often left behind and I have had to go back for them. Most recently, I forgot something less tangible.
“I drop you off first, right?” I said to Sylvia, making sure it became fixed into my brain. Otherwise I could drive straight to Mitchell’s. Unfortunately, to make room for this thought something else was dislodged from the memory banks. Lydia had made the mistake of telling me something while I prepared my breakfast and it only had a tenuous hold on a couple of brain cells. Now it was lost.
As I finished my morning route, I kept trying to retrieve the information. Then, it came to me. I had to pick up Sylvia from a friend’s house after school. I was 99 per cent certain about which friend and decided not to bother Lydia at work. I didn’t want it to seem that I had ignored her or forgotten.
Later that day, at exactly 5 p.m., I pulled up outside the friend’s house and proceeded to the front door.
The friend’s sister opened the door and peered warily at me. I was familiar to her, but my appearance was clearly unexpected. Even as I opened my mouth to ask for Sylvia I realized I’d picked the wrong friend. Well, this is awkward, I thought. Briefly, I pondered the viability of running back to the car.
Instead, I grinned foolishly, and asked if Sylvia was around. Of course she wasn’t. I apologized and said something about crossed wires and then I slunk away. I longed for a chauffeur’s cap to pull down over my face.