Before seat belts were strapped, before a key turned in the ignition, before all four children even entered the car, there came a shout in the crazy determined voice of a 9-year-old, “I am the death machine!”
And I began my carpool.
I used to envision carpooling as a fun time, singing tunes and braiding hair. Instead, when the giggling heaps of grade-schoolers I transport clamber in, I find myself ducking out of the way of flying backpacks and soccer balls. The neighbors turn to spot the shrieking and inside the echo chamber of my minivan I hear things like, “I am the Death Machine and all who touch me shall DIE!”
Before I’ve rounded one corner, a Great Debate ensues over Who. Will. Win.
And no, I’m not referring to the upcoming elections. Our debate contenders take the form of a dragon with a broken wing versus a nacho. (Nacho always wins because of its sharp corners. Deadly, I’m told by multiple 4th graders.)
Our car ride begins to look and feel like this:
Which would actually be awesome. No more waiting in the drop-off line for me, we’d cruise right to the front door. Or right through it…
Either way, traveling with children in the car is not something you can prepare yourself for. “I’m bleeding.” “Here’s that cookie I crushed the bug with!” “Remember how Pluto’s not a planet? I’m still sad about that.” “The dragon with the broken wing could win IF he had a nacho.”
While I spend the passing miles asking the children to discuss something other than the ways they might die at Cub Scout camp, I catch glimpses through the chaos. Moments of joy, shared among friends. Though my ears may be ringing, my eyes smile. And I focus on getting the kids wherever they need to be next, happy I’m along for the ride.