Monday, March 31, 2014


I know it's curmudgeonly of me, but I've got a major gripe regarding the Younger Generation in general.

Or maybe it's just my kids specifically.

But what is it with them being picked up in the car?

First off, it's constant. Amanda, our eldest, is driving, so she's pretty much off our radar. Claire, our middle-button, just got her license (causing me to almost wear out my rosary while teaching her), but she has limited access to wheels, so she's still in I-need-to-be-driven mode.

And then there's Kristin, the 13 year-old, who pretty much needs to be ferried to/from everywhere.

I know I'm speaking prehistorically, but when I was 13, I was either on my bike or hoofing it to whatever activities I needed to attend. But that was pre-Stranger Danger days when kids could dare leave their front doors and not immediately be swept away by a drug-addled molester and never seen again except on the side of a milk carton.

And I recognize those days are over. Our neighborhood is pretty isolated, and the roadways nearby are choked with traffic and drivers who aren't paying attention. Frankly, I'd worry about any of my kids commuting on them on bicycles or on foot. I know how dangerous they can be just from walking Parker twice daily. Just this morning, a pinhead driver blew by me going at least 45 in a 25 zone. God forbid one of these pea-brains behind the wheel is under the influence of alcohol, email, texts, Facebook or Google.

But when I did need to be picked up, back in the day, the rules were quite simple: If mom or dad was coming at 2 p.m. to get me, I darned well better be waiting at the corner (or outside the store, or sitting on the stoop or whatever) of the designated spot. As Dad would say, "You wait for me. I don't wait for you."

The implication was clear: Be late and be warned. Dad's leaving without you. Find your own way home, Tommy Tardy.

Part of it comes from being raised by a Navy man. Early for Dad was on time. And on time for Dad was late. And that maxim held for doctor appointments, church start-times, baseball practices, dinners, and party invitations.

So we were never late for a pickup. Never!

The cellphone has changed all of that. "Text me when you get here," is ubiquitous in our house, meaning that a study session or playdate need not end until the phone jangles the signal that the young'uns' ride is awaiting.

There's just something a little too Princess Cinderella about all that for me: "Oh, M'lady. Your carriage awaits..." "Thank you, Mr. Footman. We shall depart for the ball posthaste, I take it?"


So I've started pre-loading the conversation. When I leave for an appointed pickup, I will text the passenger: "I'm on my way."

And once again when I arrive: "I'm here."

The trouble is, the warnings are ignored, and I'm left at the curbside, flashers blinking, traffic angrily sliding around me, while my blood pressure builds.

The worst part is that none of my passengers seem to get the reason for my displeasure: "What's the big deal, Dad? I wasn't ready..."



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