Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Carpool Mooch

I have three kids – all far too active and social for the likes of my lazy being.  And one of the many, unfortunate, and self-inflicted responsibilities of modern day parenting - that makes me hate modern day parenting – is that of being a full-time chauffeur.  Without the pay of course, or the tip, or the general peace and quiet one imagines a chauffeur’s car rides include.

My chauffeuring duties consist of what seems to be the interminable task of driving my offspring and their 47 million friends to and from various locations…both near and far.  I take my sons and their friends to hockey and take my daughter and her friends to and from parties, malls and other various nonsensical seeming activities that 14 year old girls seem to need to do – nonstop. 

A little background information; I am lazy.  I am a homebody.  I am a terrible driver and a general menace to the roadways.  We would all be better off if I were allowed to exercise my “I am not moving from this couch except if it is to eat or go to bed” fantasy.  But alas, life is cruel…and I must actually leave the house - and often at completely unreasonable hours – in order to be a borderline responsible parent and functioning member of society.

Fortunately, in the “it takes a village” spirit of child rearing – carpooling has emerged as a helpful tool for us parents guilty of over programming our kids and creating a hectic, relax-free zone that is our current unenjoyable life.  Carpooling allows us to pool our resources together and share, amongst the various participants, the dreaded task of driving.  It allows us to divide the pain.  

In other words - I (or hopefully my husband) drive the kids sometimes and other parents drive them other times.  Give and take.  Fair trade.  Except…without fail in each circle of friends of my three kids there is always one offender.  One grave transgressor.  The carpool mooch.  The parent who does nothing. The parent who’s kid you always seem to be picking up and dropping off – but who is never doing that in kind. 

My overly socially active daughter has a group of about 5 friends who seem to do everything together and who are constantly asking to be taken here, there and everywhere.  All of us parents (begrudgingly) share the task of dropping off and picking up.  And when I say all – I mean all - but one.  There is one outlier.  One set of parents who seem to have cars in functioning order, who are home a significant portion of the time when I am picking up or dropping off their daughter – but yet who seem to have utterly relinquished themselves of the obviously too gruellingly inconvenient responsibility of doing their fair share of driving. 

It is as though these parents view every social outing their daughter attends as a school field trip. The big yellow bus come and picks their daughter up and then drops her back off at home at the end of the excursion.  We (non-mooch parents) take the role of school bus driver and our minivans act as the yellow bus.  Yellow buses/ minivans; parents/ bus drivers - they’re all the same to these parents.  We are all responsible for transporting their daughter while they do NOTHING. 

And so I find myself asking; what kind of brain do these carpool mooches have???  Perhaps they suffer from some profound (but not yet diagnosed) impairment/lesion in the “I want to be fair to others” region of the brain. Most of us decent folk – feel like we have to do some of the driving some of the time – even though we would prefer not to.  

But for some reason, these specimens seem to have no voice in their head that says – I have to drive too, “it’s not fair to let all the other parents drive while we do nothing”.  You know that voice in your head that allows you to act closer to human than to beast….some call it a conscience.  They appear not to have one. They seem to function with no guilt, no remorse, no need to make sure that they don’t take too much without giving back. 

And once again – in the most innocuous of activities - I find myself perplexed by how people could be so comfortable passing the buck and not carrying their weight – or more appropriately – their freight.  

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