Sunday, June 9, 2013

Diversity and the Morning Commute--originally written in 2005

As my oldest graduates from high school, I cannot help but reflect upon his overall educational experience--the good, the bad, the ugly, and...the school parking lots.

Who says diversity is lacking in America’s suburbia? Every day on my way to the local elementary school I am amazed by the variety of moms I see during the morning commute. Whether equipped with a mini-van, an SUV, or an economy vehicle, I have decided that there are as many ways to chauffeur a child to school as there are chauffeurs themselves. Which one are you? Personally, I will plead the Fifth on this one...

Quite possibly the most common of chauffeurs, is the Screamer Mom. This is the mom who, at first glance, appears to be singing exuberantly as you pass. However, a closer look through her bug-spattered windshield reveals that she is, indeed, yelling at the unfortunate passengers seated behind her. The Screamer Mom is equipped with sensor-like precision in that she can be screaming at the top of her lungs, “If you think I’m driving all the way back down here just because you can’t remember to get the lunch that I packed for you, you have another thing”--door opens at drop-off--volume and tone completely change and then her syrupy-sweet voice is heard to say, “Goodbye-Sweetie-love-you-have-a-great-day!” as if nothing is wrong and the foam seeping from her mouth is a normal, everyday occurence. Another key indicator of a Screamer Mom is that she is always in a hurry. Even after the morning drop off has taken place, she drives ten miles an hour over the speed limit in a rush to get somewhere seemingly important. Her behavior baffles the other mothers who are saying to themselves, Where is she going? She still has bed-head, she’s barefoot, braless and hasn’t brushed her teeth yet. What’s the rush? However, Screamer Moms certainly aren't the only ones who confound.

Next is the Love and Logic Mom. She is a happy mom who cordially waves to her friends and neighbors as she passes because she has not had to struggle with her children getting ready on time. At 8:45 a.m. she simply puts on her coat, grabs her purse, jingles her keys in Pavlovian fashion, then heads out the door--No reminders, just responsible children she smugly tells herself as she deliberately steps over her youngest, struggling to tie his shoe. This mom is one of the easiest to spot during the morning commute as her vehicle is usually being followed--frantically I might add--by a half-dressed, messy-haired eight-year-old who is running after her, yelling something like, “Mom, I’m sorry I chose not to be ready on time. I will make a better choice next time! Please, stop! I've learned my from this natural consequence! Please. WAAAAaaaaaait!”

Unlike the guilt-inducing Love and Logic Mom, the Sardine Mom is a woman who is skilled in the art of packing pint-sized passengers into an S.U.V. at record book proportions. She is also known as a fun mom because she is often seen drumming the steering wheel while the majority of her young occupants sing backup and bob their heads in 80s-rocker-like unison. And, while her carefree practices may at times seem a bit irresponsible to snooty outsiders who would never dream of breaking seat belt laws, one cannot deny that the Sardine Mom has a heart that's even bigger than her filled-beyond-capacity SUV. This is evident as she stops regularly to pick up children who are running late or walking in the cold winter wind (namely, those left behind by the Love and Logic Mom).

Now, Schmoopy Moms are my favorite, and someday, before it’s too late, I want to try and be one. This is the mom who selfishly stays in the school’s drop-off zone and proceeds to engage in a ten-step goodbye ritual with her child. You know the one--the customary procedure that eventually ends with the child turning around at the school doors, hand placed under the chin, fingers wiggling, only to have mom return the entire ten-step hand-waving, kiss-blowing, finger-wiggling gesture—both mother and child blissfully oblivious of those patiently waiting behind them.

Yes, Schmoopy Moms are known for being deliriously unaware of others but emanate one quality that the other moms lack--patience. The Schmoopy Mom doesn’t mind waiting for the frantic Sardine Mom to unload her S.U.V. in circus-like fashion. She doesn’t pass judgment on the Love and Logic Mom because she is completely unaware that anyone other than her own children exist (including children who are walking to school in a blizzard...). And finally, the ever-patient Schmoopy Mom handles the horn honking of the uptight Screamer Mom with a healthy dose of self-absorbed oblivion. Assuming that the anger-infused horn honking behind her is being generated by a friend who is anxious to see her, she happily turns to the Screamer Mom. Smiles. Gives her under-the-chin wiggle wave. Then slowly drives away into her own little world.

Ah, diversity.

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