A new bane of my parental existence: People who insist on carpooling for the sake of carpooling and who, anxious about achieving perfect reciprocity, end up wasting way more of my time (and theirs) texting about it than is saved by carpooling.

Stop texting me and just let me take everyone’s kids, OK?

I love driving. I don’t mind driving my kids anywhere and don’t mind driving other people’s kids when the families need me to. Middle Boy doesn’t like riding with just anyone; unless he’s being driven by the dad of one of his best friends and the parents of another, he strongly prefers being driven by me or my husband to random other parents. Receiving a ride from peripheral folks is not helpful; it actually makes him uncomfortable.

Mostly I want to have a simple weekly schedule and not have a patchwork of pickups and dropoffs by random people because they need it on certain days, but are too anxious to not immediately return the favor. This unpredictability wastes valuable mental real-estate (“Who’s picking up on Wednesday again?”), not to mention my time.

There is this mom who insists on carpooling when our three boys go to certain basketball practice. The kids either have the practice 5 min from home (where they all go to school) or at one of the other schools that are no more than 10-15 min away; this is all in the evening, when traffic is light. Just drive your goddamn kid! Or relax when I say that it’s OK for me to both drive and pick up! So many fuckin’ time-wasting texts for something that I don’t need or want (carpools), because the mom needs or wants them or thinks she’s saving money or gourd knows what, yet cannot fathom that I don’t give a toss if things are not 100% reciprocal immediately.

I will drive everyone. Everywhere. Whenever you need me to. Yes, all the time if you’d like. It’s really not a problem. I promise it’s not. Seriously.

Stop texting me about goddamn carpool.  I don’t want it. I don’t need it. If/when I do need it, I will ask you.

If you need it, just ask. Then receive the favor and relax about it. Do not — I repeat, DO NOT — bug me about returning the favor. Sure, you’re afraid that I might end up wanting your kidney sometime in an unspecified future as a payment. Who knows? Maybe I will. But I sure as $hit don’t want carpool now.



  1. I love this post. I too despise wasting time & effort on logistical planning & optimizing of shittolio that overwhelmingly vastly outweighs any possible incremental benefit obtained. And if it involves endless discussion ESPECIALLY TEXTING OR PHONE CALLS, just fucken kill me.

  2. Just buy your kid a bus pass and tell them to figure it out. 🙂 (And I say this as a parent who feels like 14-15 is time for the kid to learn about the ins and outs of public transportation because I was getting around by myself at that age.)

  3. @mareserinitatis,

    I agree, and my son started doing his own transportation everywhere at about 7th–8th grade, though in our case that meant he was bicycling by himself, rather than accompanied by me—we have never had a car.

    But I live in an area with year-round bicycling weather and an adequate bus system as a backup. The approach I used with my son would not have worked where I grew up, where public transit (other than a commuter train to Chicago) was non-existent and bicycling was only feasible about half the year. I believe that xykademiqz lives in a place with nasty winters (I’ve no idea whether it has an adequate public transit system), so what worked for my family may be totally unsuitable for hers.

  4. Yes, bus for my 15 yo has been GREAT.

    But I will say I’m probably one of the semi annoying parents on the other end of your rant. As a single parent to two kids of very different ages, I’m very grateful for carpool opportunities for night events. But also very careful not to exploit. Not everyone feels the way you do, and it’s not always easy to read how people REALLY feel about giving kids rides.

  5. I grew up in a big European city with lots of bus lines running every few minutes; I rode the city buses on my own starting at age 7 to get to special activities. My elementary+middle school was a 12-min walk away, my high school was 10 min. Most of my friends lived within a 20-min-walk radius.

    Where I live now, the city is simply laid out differently and requires the use of a car for most things. We are what’s considered super conveniently located w/ respect to the kids’ schools, which is a 20-min walk to elementary school and 20 min to middle and high school. While I walked through the city when I was growing up, this is suburbia. No one is in the streets in the middle of the day (all the dog walkers do it early in the morning and in the evening after work). Elementary school kids are dropped off by car or walk to school if they live < 5 min away. I drop off middle and highschool kids in the morning; they walk back home. For a basketball practice at 8 pm at a school that's a 15-min drive away, the boys would have to take three buses, at least one of which doesn't run late enough for them to come back, and all of which run once every 30 min or once every hour in the evening. Bus is simply not feasible for most activities that are not going straight to work or school. The camp I was discussing in the post is in the boonies; there's no bus going to there at all, so driving is necessary.

    Overall, public transport is a great idea in principle, but in much of the US it's at best a partial solution (some part of the year, activities in the middle of the day and confined to urban areas).

    I love to drive so I am happy to drive anywhere. We covered 3,000 miles on a recent family trip and I drove the whole time b/c I love it and have great stamina for it. But people don't believe me when I say I love to drive and it's really not a big deal to give rides. As I’ve been informed, most people hate driving.

    All I can do is be generous with my time. It pisses me off when the other side a) doesn't believe they can get a favor for free, b)doesn’t that I mean what I say, and c) ends up wasting my time with their inability to process that I don't need perfect reciprocity and I don't need the exact return favor as the one they need. They are just making me annoyed and unlikely to ask for a favor when I do actually need it, because they reveal how inflexible they are and how they view relationships in general (as purely transactional, akin to paying for a sandwich).

    My kid's best friend has divorced parents. The mom is the one who lives nearby. She works shifts at a hospital, often nights. I am happy to take her boy anywhere, anytime. I don't need her to drive my kid, and it would be ridiculous for anyone to expect her to "repay" me in rides because of her schedule. Instead, she hosts sleepovers or takes the boys to the movies or the trampoline park. I call it a wash. Maybe I'd be bothered if she never did anything with the kids, but probably not, because I know she needs the rides and I am happy to give them, and the boys are really good friends.

    In a similar vein, we have three kids. Parents of only children are so grateful when we take their kid for the day because they can go do stuff. I am happy to have their kid over because with 3, what's 1 or a few more, and because when they have our kid over it doesn't actually give us much relief because there are still two (OK, one is big now, but this still held for a long time). Sure, the parents are using us as free babysitting, but we don't mind, it helps them, and maybe it's good karma.

    I also often pay for tip-jar submission in magazines even if there's a free option because that $2 or $3 helps the magazine; I chip in to pay for magazine copies or submission fees for the folks who can't afford it; I support artists on Patreon, etc. I am comfortable and I think it's the likes of me who should be generous to others with the things they can spare, without expecting things in return. I guess it bothers me when the likes of me (comfortably middle-class professionals) show they are deeply uncomfortable with the concept that they can get rides for their kid for free (yes, I did have to use the term Carpool Fairy and the woman in the post relaxed) because doing things without getting something immediately in return (gas money; a ride) just isn't part of their worldview.

    And as a secondary issue, I hate inefficiency, and I hate spending time on shit that doesn't warrant it. Making me endlessly text over stupid logistics is how you get me to pop a vein, esp if I said I'd do and don't mind, yet we're still texting because people don't believe me when I say I really don't mind.

  6. @xykademqz, aren’t you in the midwest, where people often say that they don’t mind as a way of telling people that they object very much but are too *nice* to say so? With that as a common cultural backdrop, people feel that they have to triple check to make sure you really mean it when you say you don’t mind. (I seem to remember that things have to be offered three times, because it is considered polite to refuse twice, even if you really want something. I’m glad I’m not in the midwest anymore.)

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