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Get On The Bus!


Why The Good Enough Mother Taxi Service Is Over…

Yesterday, I added the latest chapter to my new book, “Things My Kids Will Tell Their Therapist About Me!”

The tipping point was the perpetual issue of walking versus riding to school. Here’s what happened…

When I went to pick Casey and Cole up from school, Cole informed me he was going to hang with his buddies, so I told him to call me when he was ready to be picked up. I know, I know, mistake number one, I should have had him walk home. In his defense, it’s really not safe right now due to the record snowfall we’ve had and mounds of SNIRT (snow and dirt combined, as my friend calls it) are now lining the roads, obstructing views and making passage by car or foot, more precarious.

So the call comes in to Mom’s Taxi Service (“You beckon, we come”) at 3:57pm and I told the client, aka, Cole, I’d be there in 5 minutes. I put on my coat, jumped in the car, drove down the road, avoiding  kids, a slow cyclist, SNIRT and other drivers and pulled into the CVS Parking lot at 4:04pm. Of course, before he even got in the car, he was shooting daggers at me through the Yukon windshield, shivering in a thin sweatshirt with a bag of candy the size of a basic training duffel bag.

“What took you so long? I’ve been standing out there freezing for 15 minutes!” Yes, I’m bad at math but even I can figure out that was not 15 minutes. But forget about that, OH HELL NO! This child did NOT just jump in the car and without a “Hi mom” or “what’s going on?” launch into attack! No freakin’ way! Oh yes he did. (Side note, I tell him everyday to wear his winter coat.  In Good Enough Mother fashion, I figure he’ll grab it when he gets cold enough).

Frequent readers will know that Cole and I are very similar. We have the same warped humor, the same passion for life and the same fiery temper. The ensuing “debate” was so incendiary I’m shocked the front seat of the Yukon wasn’t dotted by shrapnel debris and singe marks. I’m not going to go into detail of the “discussion” but the upshot was us bickering all the way home. Halfway up the driveway it hit me; these kids have too much damn stuff. They have so much that they don’t even know they have so much, not to mention constant access to a mom who works from home. Yep, she is part of that “stuff” just like the XBOX and iPod.

In the idling SUV, I turned to Cole and said, “I have a solution. You want a schedule? You can take the bus from now on, starting next week.” “NO!” “YES” “NO!” “YES!” “NO!” “YES!” and it went on in that manner until we got inside. Cole was not only wearing a thin sweatshirt but sweatpants that were several sizes to big (actually his father’s, don’t ask me why) tripped on them and fell. Now every mother has seen this before; let’s just say Adrien Brody’s Oscar winning turn in The Pianist paled in comparison. Cole fell on the floor, candy went flying and he started to wail. Mommy instinct told me he was more pissed than hurt so I kept going. I marched right upstairs, unplugged the XBOX, took his laptop, closed the door to my room and the closet doors that separate Good Enough World Headquarters from the rest of the world and I let him carry on.

Casey came in and asked what was wrong with the unhappy camper. So I calmly explained to her what he was upset about and what started it all. But I took the time to explain that no one, moms included, likes to feel like they are being taken for granted and unfortunately, she does it too. She’ll call to have me pick them up from school. In an effort to avoid the “Mad Mommies in Mercedes” AKA carpool line, I say I’ll be there in 15 minutes. If I am half a minute late, she sends me a text  “r u on ur way?” Casey teared-up and apologized because she knew I was right. Our Kumbaya moment was only interrupted by the piercing wails of ‘HELP ME!” Okay, it was time.

The man-child had been throwing a fit for a solid hour so you can imagine what a teary, snotted-up mess he was by the time I got to him. His eyes were swollen from crying and I helped him up to his room. “Cole, look around you. You see all this stuff you have? You think all your friends have big rooms like this to themselves? Your friend, Sam, who you hung out with today, rides his bike everywhere because his parents work. You need to be thankful for what you have, including a mom who will drive you where you need to go.” I think he understood. Either that or the crying left him too tired to protest.

I’m not sure what the lesson here is and I’m big enough to admit I wish it had gone down differently yesterday.  Though we made up with heartfelt hugs and apologies, Cole and I were both exhausted and traumatized. The laptop and XBOX are still on lockdown and Mom’s taxi service looks to be replaced by the big, yellow bus. Even if it’s not, it will be running a few minutes behind schedule on each and every call.

What about you, have you ever felt like your children take you for granted? What did you do about it – and how did they react… start sharing your stories!


  1. Allison

    February 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Love it Rene’ – tough love still works.

    You sound like my Sister except Cole is my Niece and Casey is my Nephew -lol !

    The joys of Motherhood.

  2. *Shasha

    February 12, 2011 at 11:35 am

    My kids, although only aged 2&3, already have it in their mindset that I am at their beck and call.This horrible realisation dawned on me, when my youngest, made a mess when he was eating and called me to the table and said -mommy look!clean it! Now ,the little one is a bit OCD, likes everything clean and tidy(I couldn’t possibly imagine where he gets that from!) Anyhoo, the little mite, showed me that he was not prepared to carry on with his meal until the mess(it was not that bad), had been cleaned up.I told him he either waits until he has finished, and I clean up at once, or he can do it himself, but he WILL finish his meal, WITHOUT throwing a wobbly, because mummy is busy and he needs to learn patience, and he cant act up just because I can’t do it immediately.Suffice it to say , there was a bit of a tantrum, but overall he got the message.I plan to continue filtering this message, at a tender age, so that they keep it in their tiny(cute) brains!

  3. Leslie

    February 12, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Great article. I would have done the same thing. When did the world change and getting picked up became the new cool? When I was a kid, I would rather die than have to get into my mother’s car. I took all other methods of independent movement, including walking, taking the bus or riding a bike as first preference. Getting in the mom mobile meant you weren’t trusted to transport yourself from point A to point B.
    Now, in our world of instant gratification, it is easier to just summon a personal driver to take you here and there. Text me and I show up, ring me up on your personal “i” device and I will magically appear. I don’t think so.
    There are times when I will pick up my son, but most of the time, it is the bus and only the bus. Since our rule is get home and do your homework before any socializing, the issue of “hanging out with the buddies” is not on our table.
    And why are you even picking the kids up anyway? You set a precedent when you decided to hop into the drop off line. Now they know you are willing to make that drive. What is it to change the time to meet their convenience? No sweat off their brow. And you fell right into line, like a good employee being told what to do.
    The bus is a perfectly acceptable form of transportation, and one that your school taxes are already paying for. You wouldn’t pay to fill a strangers gas tank, so why are you letting the school district fill theirs on your dime?
    Start showing up at a time that is most convenient to you (like a 1/2 hour to an hour after the call request) and that bus might just looking more attractive.

  4. jacki marie

    February 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    LOL… with 5 kids, believe me this is my life only multiplied. I ignore the “r u on ur way?” texts. I’m not supposed to be reading texts while I’m driving anyway, right? I don’t argue with them. Instead, I settle in “Bill Cosby/Heathcliff Huxtable” style and tell them about my life growing up riding public transportation in Philadelphia. No one picked me up and gave me rides in a comfortable car WITH HEAT. Or how after waiting for the bus for FOREVER it would get to me too full to add any more passengers. Then after all that waiting (forever remember), I had to walk to school a mile away anyway… in the cold and snow, uphill both ways. A couple of hours of that, with ears bleeding and all, they thank me for the ride.

  5. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    @ Leslie: Agreed on tax dollars. They only hang with friends and in town on Fridays when there’s no homework and I started driving them when I left the morning show. For years I couldn’t do it and thought it was a nice way to have some together time. Yeah, time’s up. ha

  6. jacki marie

    February 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Rene, let me add that I pick them up for selfish reasons. When they rode the bus, they’d come home and disperse. When I drive them, we have at leave 15 minutes trapped in the car where they TALK to me. We have some of our best conversations then. BUT I would definitely wait until they are at a point where they appreciate you and don’t take you for granted. After making your point, pick them up once or twice a week? –but no earbuds.

  7. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    @Jacki that’s a good idea too!

  8. Auntie Lisa

    February 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    A few days on the bus and he’ll get how good he has it!

  9. VictorHM

    February 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I actually DID walk 3 miles to school in all kinds of weather, so I can seriously use that on the kids. And if someone wants to give me grief about picking them up late, I’ll offer them the option of walking home. Tends to straighten them up.

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  11. Dave Freeman

    February 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    You have a fiery temper?

  12. Clare

    February 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I’m glad you decided not to tolerate that behavior (and his future wife owes you a debt of gratitude), but honestly–why wouldn’t you have him take the bus?
    I don’t have kids, and I’m truly perplexed by this development. It’s not a criticism–I just don’t get it. When I was growing up, no one got rides to school–we didn’t even think about it. If I missed the bus, I had to walk, even with a stay at home mom. It was pretty clear then that parents were not expected to be their kids chauffeurs. When did this change–and why?

  13. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Hey Clare: you mean why not from the beginning? I used to work on the CBS morning show and was absent a lot in the mornings. When I left there, I started driving because frankly I missed them. It was also, as Jacki pointed out, another chance for me to get to chat with them. So that’s the short answer. Thanks!

  14. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I know that comes as a COMPLETE surprise :/

  15. Brit

    February 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Easy solution. Stop doing things for your kids that are not required. We’re raising an era of spoiled, entitled brats who will grow up to become more spoiled and feel more entitled.

    My daughter is 5. I make sure she understands EVERYTHING (save for food and a roof over her head) can be taken away at a moment’s notice. Her books, her toys, her room. And when I tell her something is taken away, it’s taken away for good. When she loses something, it does not get replaced (like her Nintendo DS she got for Christmas and lost a few months later.)

    She will not have a cell phone. She will not have the newest game console. Unless, of course, she buys it with her own money when she gets a job at 16. She does NOT get an allowance for helping me around the house – she is part of this family, and we all pay our dues.

    You wouldn’t allow a stranger to take advantage of you (I hope), do not let your kids do it to exploit your love for them.

  16. M.E. Johnson

    February 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Rene, that’s the second time you’ve told us about Cole’s mouth. You say, “We’re so alike”. You are not! You are the Mom, he is the son. He is growing into manhood (We call it ‘gittin’ all mannish’), you are not. I’ll wait for when you tell us he tried giving you orders.

  17. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Yes, I am the mother and he is the son. But we are cut from the cloth. However, having lived longer, I have more tricks and always win.

  18. Auntie Lisa

    February 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    The bus is definitely no fun — at least it wasn’t when I was a school-kid. I hated the bus so much in jr. high that I voluntarily walked or biked the 1 or 2 miles to and from school. The bus makes so many stops, you can actually get there quicker on your own and so not have to leave as early.

    If I had kids, I would probably drive them most of the time. Those buses don’t have seat belts, for one. Also, what Rene said in one of her comments… it can be the best quality time you have with your kids, as you all have to stay in your seats and have a conversation!

    (Was that Cole who went thru and gave thumbs-down to all the tough-love comments? haha)

  19. DawnKA

    February 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I often give the speech on “One day you’re going to need me and I wont be here, you’ll realize then you shouldn’t take me for granted. Every now and then I get excited to hear or receive an email, text recognition but not too long after I somehow slip back to that stand by position.

  20. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Just to clarify, these things my kids have, are things they either got as gifts or earned with their own money. BTW, Cole does not have a cellphone and it is an ENORMOUS pain, for me not him. There is not a single pay phone in our little town so an electronic tether is more a necessity than luxury. Thanks

  21. Marla

    February 12, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    What makes kids these days so special that they can’t ride the bus?

  22. Mike McGinley

    February 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I miss when my parents used drive me to school during different phases of my school days. It was a good way for us to spend time together, especially when, as a pre-teen or teen, I would have rathered take the bus instead of, gasp, have my parents drop me off in the school parking lot for all to see. Looking back, I realize it was my parents’ own little way of spending time with me when all I wanted to do was play on the computer, be on the soccer field or spend time with my friends. Those 10 minutes were our guaranteed alone time.

  23. Rene Syler

    February 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    That is so sweet.. thanks for sharing that sentiment Mike 🙂

  24. David Freeman

    February 13, 2011 at 11:08 am

    That “quality time” all depends on how long a ride it is to school. Ours was so fast there was no real time for much talk, and it was a carpool anyway. I don’t understand why more moms don’t get together and car pool quite honestly to save time and gas. But if it works as the waulity time thing more often than not, I’m kinda for it. But I see so many kids being so coddled I wonder how they’re going to do once out of the home at times. And walking home with freinds also gave me qaulity time with them because we’d talk about the strangest things while walking home. Things that affected us at that age and we figured it out together or learned more about the other or another family’s style, etc. It was a different paradigm than being part of a big social group all together.
    I don’t know that I’m the best judge of these things because I tend to walk around thinking today’s kids are spoiled. I mean when I grew up, we cut our own lawns, raked our own leaves, sure my mom had a cleaning lady come in once a week, but we had to keep our rooms clean and make our own beds daily, etc. I truly believe I learned from that. And I went out to make money cutting other people’s lawns which helped me learn how to treat customers early on and now I run my own business. But we all have our own road to walk so I don’t know I can “write a menu for a different restaurant.” Bottom line is each parent needs to look into their own heart and life’s needs and decide whats right. Paint all lives with one brush rarely works. But overall I do feel kids are generally spoiled and I see parent’s all over loaded with excuses as to why this is so. Are they right ? don’t know. Are they wrong? don’t know.

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