Clark Kent: The Mommy Chronicles Part 3, Morning Drive

In Part 1 I gave a basic rundown of how I attempt to get two little girls out the door without the assistance of their mother who is at work. In Part 2 I outlined a typical morning by time sequence, which brings me to the actual drive to school. This probably wouldn't warrant a full post if it weren't for the fact that the drive takes about forty-five minutes or roughly the same amount of time as a prime time reality show (minus commercials) with equal levels of drama and entertainment.

The first order of business is to recall where the minivan is parked. This sounds like it shouldn't be a problem, but given we live in an apartment complex with outdoor, indoor, reserved and visitor parking, it is more daunting than one would think since there is no regularity in which spot the vehicle ends up in at the end of the day.

Of course this also means all the time saved getting out the door just became wasted as we wander aimlessly looking for our ride. Adding to the level of difficulty is the fact our Honda Odyssey is painted in what I refer to as "stealth" green (visualize an extremely watered down version of sea foam green) which allows it to hide in plain site as well as run undetected bombing mission in Iraq. Given we live in, what is considered a "hip and trendy" complex with young, beautiful residents driving flashy cars, one would think even a stealth killing machine in the form of a minivan would stick out. However, there happens to be an exact duplicate belonging to a fellow resident, fooling me more than once. With as many times as I have tried to load up into this van, I have been tempted to grab a can of Rust-olium and add a red racing stripe in an effort to distinguish between the two.

Once the van is located, everyone buckles up and I perform the necessary safety checks which includes covering my eyes and then peeking to see if there is enough gas to get there. Usually there is not as I am quite sure magical Alley Gnomes (Alley Gnomes are like Garden Gnomes, but the urban, gang version wearing gold chains, and hoodies) are syphoning it off. This means a trip to my favorite gas station across the street where I've been known to pay for gas using all the change mined out of the cup holders, glove compartment and seat cushions. On one stop I even asked a rather disheveled, looking man for a quarter to which he replied that he was about to ask me the same thing so he could by bread to eat. Ya, gas prices are that bad.

Gas or no gas, Allie and Avrey start off the ride by yelling for their particular song request. Aside from being their chauffeur, I am also the morning DJ with the spin handle, "Mix Master Mighty White" (I take no prisoners, people). I have no problem with this secondary duty since it makes me waaaaay more popular as a driver than their mother who either forces them to play "the quiet game," or worse, listen to NPR for the entirety of the trip. I find these actions both astonishing and inhumane; astonishing in that I have never seen any child successfully play "the quiet game" for more than .5 nano-seconds, and inhumane from the standpoint that the subject matter featured on NPR is so extremely boring it makes me want to shove freshly sharpened pencils into both my ears just to escape the pain. I kid you not, this weekend I was subjected to a full episode of something called, The Atomic Hour, which is a narrative read from some technical report detailing the construction of the first nuclear bomb just because I mentioned to Ashley that she looked pretty, thus ruining the quiet game for everyone in the van.

The girls prefer upbeat sugar-pop tunes mixed with a little urban hip hop... the only music more annoying than both Hannah Montana and polka. For a while they were in love with Rhianna, who used to sing sweet little tunes, but in latest album she's decided to skank it up a bit (allot). There favorite song: "Shut Up & Drive," which by the lyrics has less to do with driving and more to do with being ridden, but I think they just like the idea of getting away with yelling "shut up" at me. Thankfully I've been able to ween them off skank-pop and onto angsty chic tunes like Avriil Levene. Listening to an angry 16 year old millionaire screaming into the mike about her horrible life is just sends a better message. My ultimate goal, however, is to make the leap from angsty chics to a Christian alternative in the same vein (any suggestions?).

For the most part the girls make requests by taking turns, but there are mornings they are overcome by the Me-First Demon. Usually what I do is tell them they have to work it out on their own and once they do, I will turn the music back on, allowing them to develop their conflict resolution skills along the way. There are those times, however, when neither demon is backing down and all hell breaks loose. Sometimes, I will let this go on, curious to see how far it will escalate before I need to jump in. For being six and four Allie and Avery can get pretty vicious, so once they draw their 9's and shots are fired (usually after both have broken or lost their Barbie Prison Shivs), then I put a halt to things. In any case, once the music has started playing then the majority of ride is uneventful.

First we make a stop at Allie's school, pulling into the parking lot from the back entrance, and winding our way to the front as we follow the other vehicles to the drop off point where teachers are waiting to assist the kids as they depart from their cars. For someone who enjoys observing people, I can't help but take notice of the parents and their kids. Somewhere in the trail of cars are vans and suburbans that pull up and open the doors allowing eighty-seven little Hispanic boys and girls to spill out onto the curb. Next will be a tricked-out Chrysler 300 or Escalade, pulsating its base loud enough to make the entire zip code to vibrate. Rolling up to the stop the door opens and Lil' Gee or Miz Thang jumps out and dances their way into the building. Another major group, is the Bubba Dads. These guys drive huge trucks with massively large tires, and they don't use the driving line to drop off their kids, choosing rather to drive over stuff like median strips, curbs, sidewalks, no parking signs, small trees, and the occasional bike where they park, and then open the passenger side door letting their kids to jump down onto a trampoline device intended to break their fall as they get out of the truck.

Of course there are the soccer moms, of which, I also belong given I meet the only pre-requisite of operating a minivan (SUV's count too). We arrive in groups and approach the drop off point in a formation reminiscent of the famous helicopter assault scene in Apocalypse Now ("I love the smell of lattes in the morning!"). Finally, there is the most annoying parents in the bunch - the "professionals," who are hard to ignore as they drive their gleaming BMW's and Lexus's at unsafe speeds through the parking lot, bypassing the car line (even though the school has warned against this), in a demonstration of their supreme placement in the suburban cast system. After cutting off the lead vehicle, they shove little Winston Straton Briggs III out the door, barely taking time to bring their vehicle to a stop as they yap into their cell phones and shove a bagel down their throat. I'm thinking of mounting a door gun on the side the minivan - but just to scare them - I swear.

After dropping Allie off at Cookie Cutter Suburban Elementary, Avery and I head to her pre-school. It's in this five-minute stint that Avery attempts to rehash the major events of her life while trying to understand what it could all mean in her search for meaning in life.

Yesterday, I had applesauce for a snack, and I ate it all up, and it was good, just like the time I had applesauce when I lived in the yellow house when you didn't know who I were because I was only three then and didn't go to school yet and have a snack time, but Allison in my class was three and she went to school and had applesauce even though I didn't. Do you like applesauce, Ron?

Yes, I do like it, noting that in one sentence we are half way to her school. She then follows my answer with her second sentence which she cannot finish before we pull up in the parking lot. We make a short walk to her classroom, where as soon as I open the door, Avery runs into the middle of the group and announces that she has arrived, thus signalling to the administration that today's activities may now commence.

From there I get back in the van; crank up some Rhianna and head off to work until it's time for the Evening Routine (Part 4).

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