The Luxury Of Nothing
It drives me nuts that so many parents insist on driving their precious kiddies to school. It adds to the already substantial traffic problem, for one thing. And believe me, it is substantial.
Our area has grown very quickly, and with it, the traffic. Unfortunately, the growth we have experienced has not been matched by the development of an adequate system of inlets and outlets to our little suburban enclave. There are only a few main arteries to the interstate, and they are thoroughly and completely clogged at 7 am. Business traffic combines with school traffic to create a huge snarling mess.
Also, it's a waste of resources and it adds to the pollution problem. This year has been better than previous years...we've had no code red days, and only a few code orange...but still. Some days, it's quite evident that there is a pall of smog hanging over the city and the outlying areas as well.
Unfortunately, because of redistricting, the bus is no longer an option for us.
Long story short, because of the rapid growth in the area, new schools are being built every year, and, as a result, we have recently been redistricted for the third time since we bought this house.
We opted not to move Diminutive One to the new school for several reasons. If I start him in a new school this year, he will have to change AGAIN next year when he moves to Middle School.
Pubescent One had to do this in the second grade. We had just moved him from public school to private and the following year, we got redistricted. It was hard for him, but he dealt with it okay. He is outgoing and amiable and makes friends quickly, so after a day of new school jitters, his nervousness evaporated and he assimilated pretty quickly.
But for Diminutive One this is the kind of thing that can spell disaster. He does not deal well with change and he gets extremely anxious about new social situations. "Adaptable" is just not a word that applies to him.
Since he just started doing better after several years of struggling, we decided not to upset the apple cart.
Also, the school he would be attending is an old, run down building with a scarcely adequate playground. It does not have a good academic reputation. They have done some renovation this year, but that does not address the other problems that continually make the rounds on the neighborhood rumor mill; bullying, staff squables, militant administration....
So he can stay at the old school, but I have to drive him, as the only bus that will be servicing our neighborhood will be going to the new school.
Luckily, I found two other Moms with whom to carpool, so it's not been too horrible. I only have to drive every third day, which means that I have to drive roughly twice a week.
I've noticed something sitting in car line, which is really what this post is about.
There are all kinds of people picking up kids; Moms, Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, even a Day Care van. But mostly it's Moms and Dads.
You have to get there early or you end up in line behind the point where the two lines merge into one another. Then you're screwed because the line moves at a snail's pace from that point back. So I, and all the other carline parents usually have at least 2o mins to kill sitting in carline.
The Moms always seem to have something to do. Some have day planners open on the steering wheel and a phone to their ear. Some do paperwork. Some knit, crochet or cross stitch. Some read. Some do Bible study. Some clean their car or van. That's what I did yesterday. I grabbed some wipes on my way out the door and cleaned my thoroughly grimy dashboard while I sat.
But the Dads? Without exception, the Dads simply sit. They don't fidget. They don't look around anxiously. They don't do anything. They just...sit.
I find that odd.
Is it a gender thing? Or is it more indicative of gender roles?
I mean, what woman do you know, can sit for twenty minutes doing absolutely NOTHING but daydreaming, woolgathering, musing. Not any that I know.
And why is that?
I'll tell you why.
Women are driven by guilt to be productive every minute of every day. I know that for many years, I felt that in order to justify my not working, I had to prove that my time at home was fruitful.
And even when I was handed small opportunities for respite, I wouldn't take them, couldn't take them. Because I had something to prove. We all, as women, I think, feel that we have something to prove.
Men do not feel this pressure the way we do. Oh sure, there is professional competition and job stress. But I don't think that men feel as persistently judged as women do.
They do not measure their worth by their ability to do it all. Because never, ever, in the history of mankind, have they ever been expected to do it all. Their role, though shifting somewhat throughout the years, has historically been pretty cut and dried. Breadwinner.
Of course there are responsibilities other than providing financially for the family. And I'm not implying that it is a small one. But if a man can provide well for his family, then he is satisfied that he is fulfilling his societal and moral obligation. He does not need any other yardstick by which to measure his value and a human being or a man.
But women, even when they work outside the home, do not have that same certainty. Because as our roles have changed with the times, they have not simply evolved, they have multiplied. We have not traded one for another, we have simply assumed more and more and more, until we are wearing more hats than Bartholomew Cubbins.
And we judge ourselves harshly if we can't fulfill all those roles with efficiency, dexterity, and poise.
My next turn to drive is Thursday. And I'm not going to bring anything to do. I'm going to sit and woolgather. And I'm not going to feel guilty about it.