Like most of the lifestyle pieces written by Beth Teitell in the Boston Globe, this article about “Rules of the carpool road” makes me want to flee to the woods and reject the morass that modern American society has become.
There’s the resigned acknowledgment from emasculated parents that their and their neighbors’ children are the source of stress and low self-esteem:
As society becomes ever more kid-centric, the driver is no longer boss, said Dan Zevin , the author of “Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad.”
He contrasted [his experience as a child] with the demanding grade-schoolers who populate his Toyota Sienna minivan. “I don’t like Goldfish. Do you have Chex mix or a granola bar?” “Can you change the radio station? I don’t like this song.” “I’m hot. Will you turn on the AC?”
“It’s demoralizing — I’m being treated like a chauffeur by 7-year-olds.” Then he made a confession. “I make judgments about 7-year-olds.”
Then there is the unremarked acceptance that extracurricular activity schedules fit for Olympic athletes are normal:
Kathy Prelack has three children. Her 14-year-old daughter practices gymnastics six days a week at a gym in Woburn — in rush hour, it’s 90 minutes from their Brookline home. Prelack’s older girl studies dance four days a week, in Newton, a half-hour trip. Her son, 10, plays football at a nearby field.
Finally, there’s the distasteful revelry that hearing from gossip from your friends’ kids is “fair game”.
The third rule of carpool: “Don’t pump kids for information.” She mimicked a nosy driver. “I’ve noticed your dad’s car hasn’t been in the driveway. Is he traveling?”
(Note to carpoolers: Just as the “plain view doctrine” allows an officer to seize evidence and contraband found in plain view during a lawful observation, so too is overheard gossip fair game and indeed a major perk of the job.)
It’s an indictment of our society’s by-turns obsessive need to program children as if they’re nothing more than human resumé-robots and our conflicting desire to fob their overscheduled, pampered lives off on others to maintain.
If you’re signing them up for Uber–as the woman with the gymnast, dancer, and football player was considering–to get them to keep up with their extensive social calendar on time, then you’re doing it wrong.