Cham writes and say, Hey Ma! We need rides to and from the airport. Any chance?
We can do both trips, Cham.
See, in Chicago the trip to the airport isn't a big deal. Maybe it's more correct to say that it hasn't been until the past month. We have two seasons in Chicago:
Winter and Construction. Winter is over.
In New York you have to take taxis. Nobody ever volunteers to pick anybody up. That really would be stealing time.
And that's good, that the taxi drivers have a shot at making a living. I only recently discovered the Van Nuys shuttle to LAX, and for $3.50 I can get from the airport to Van Nuys in style (it's a luxury bus) and the kids can pick me up from this very cute terminal with friendly employees who are dying for something to do. So they'll talk to you about anything and everything. The Van Nuys welcome wagon.
Me taking that shuttle is a lot easier on the kids than having them shlep to LAX to pick me up. Saves them a couple of hours.
Total time in human hours lost otherwise three. Two for them, one for me. But mine is already a loss.
The thought of being trapped in the car with my adult kids, who often bring a child, is a reminder of carpool days. Many of us have carpool stories. For me, carpool always seemed like such an elegant idea, a conservation intervention, like recycling.
But being a professional with a bunch of kids, it was really hard to get in on the ground floor. I was always the mother hunting around for a carpool when so many others had theirs on hard copy the spring before the fall semester. (No, sorry, we're totally full. No, if anything, we need someone for the Thursday 5:30 pm, but there aren't enough seat belts, so even if you could do that. . .)
I get it.
And then FD and I would somehow become part of an elaborate, extremely complicated carpool that required an Excel program to figure out the who what and where. And the kids would be mean. Sorry, if you're one of those grown children now, you didn't know any better, and I forgave you right away, but no, I can't speak for FD. These things cut deep.
A kid would say, "You're LATE! We're going to be LATE!!! My mommy said. . ."
To tell you more isn't necessary, I feel.
Anyway, at some point FD declared, I'LL DRIVE THE KIDS, NO MORE CARPOOL (code for WE'LL drive the kids). And life became less manageable but more intimate, and in some ways, less stressful.
I began to look forward to that quiet time in the car, really getting to know the one or two other kids who chahpped a ride (Yiddish, soft, gutteral "ch", means grabbed) in our relatively empty little automobile. And I liked listening to my own children, too, getting my final instructions (Mom, send that check for the pictures. . .Don't forget to fill out the form for the class trip. . We need ice cream. . .)
This became the time to really communicate, to find out about the stresses of their lives, hear about their academic nonsense, their social angst. And listening in, hearing how they communicated with the other kids, priceless.
So I said to Cham, Sure we'll take you. Sure. Seriously. Not a problem. We'll talk.