Being a parent is not a job. It is your life. A life that you sometimes need to remind yourself that you chose on purpose. Certain aspects of parenthood can absolutely feel like jobs – chef, maid, warden. Of course, if those were your actual job they would pay you money, and filling those roles as a parent does the exact opposite of that. Lately, I feel like my most frequent parental role has been that of a chauffeur. And my kids never tip.
This school year, my three kids are at three different places. One at a day care, one at pre-school, and one at kindergarten. Looking back at having to drop one kid at one place, I wonder how I didn’t have time to sit and drink a coffee and read the paper in the morning? Well, probably because the internet exists and I’m not 70 years old, but you get the point. Whether it is dropping off one kid or three kids, we just get used to it. And the kids get used to it too.
The logistics of it all are certainly an adjustment, but they are what they are. You make it work. I just hope my job doesn’t start enforcing rigid start and stop times to the work day. Taking a conference call with kids singing “Into the Unknown” in the backseat would pose a challenge. Beyond the hustle out the door and the timing of the drop-offs, I was surprised how challenging it would be from the perspective of a dad who is very used to being very needed.
Our kids never had a hard time getting dropped off at day care because they all started going at just a few months old, so as far as they know that is just a part of everyday life. Adding the drop off to pre-school changed that. When our oldest daughter started pre-school, when I dropped her off I would walk to her room with her until something distracted her and I could pry her off of me enough to walk out. Over the course of the school year, that got better, but it never got the point where I’d just leave her at the door and send her on her way. For our second daughter, a high five and have a good day in the parking lot is the norm. Partly because Covid has changed the drop-off rules at the school, but I really don’t think she’d expect me to personally escort her to her room. She’s seen her sister get dropped off hundreds of times. Have a good day and see you later, it’s no big deal. By the time our youngest is ready for pre-school, are we just going to slow the car down to a roll and toss him out the window?
Our oldest in in kindergarten now, and the drop-off evolution has advanced more rapidly. When I dropped her off on the first day, me and all the other parents walked our kids up to the school, gave them hugs, and stood around and waited from them to go into their rooms. After a few days, that became walking her up to the school, getting a high five, and then leaving. Last week she asked me if I could just drop her off at the sidewalk and she could walk to the building her self. On one hand, part of me was thrilled that she not only had the confidence to not need me to walk her up to the door, but also had the courtesy to trim five minutes off of my drop-off routine. On the other hand, she didn’t need me anymore. She needed a chauffeur, not a security guard. My job there was done.
At least all my kids are still very happy to see me at pick up time. Though, when my wife picks up our youngest, he runs up to her and gives her a hug. He just says “hi” to me. Maybe I’ll start insisting on a nice, firm handshake from him. But still, they are not yet embarrassed by my presence at their school at the end of the day. I wonder if when they are fourteen they will still have the same enthusiasm about getting a hug from me outside of their school? I assume yes, but we’ll find out. I’m not going schlep them around for over a decade and not take the opportunity to give them a big hug and kiss and yell “Daddy loves you!” on their way into high school. My chauffeur role may not pay, but it will have its rewards.