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My Teen’s Social Life Means That I Never Stop Driving

When my son started high school, I had no idea that I was about to embark on quite possibly the most challenging part of raising teens. And I’m not talking about block scheduling or AP classes. I’m not talking about FAFSA forms or the Common App for college admissions. I’m not even talking about the realization that your kid is actually going to leave home sooner than later.

No.

I’m talking about all of the driving.

Seriously, why does no one tell you in preschool playgroup that when your kid hits the halls of high school, you are signing on to spend every available minute of your waking day in the car?

Turns out, teens have social lives. And sports. And after school activities. And jobs. And volunteer requirements. Did I mention social lives?

I had no idea that my Saturday nights would consist of sitting in a darkened car texting, “Hurry up, let’s gooooooo” while wearing pajamas and listening to 80s music at 11 pm.

I’m pretty sure my kids’ social lives are going to be the death of me.

Frankly, I feel like this needs to be addressed at the High School Open House night you attend as an 8th grade parent. Knowing ahead of time that your life is about to go from chaotic to “I no longer have a social life because I’m too busy keeping up with my teen’s social calendar” in a matter of months is vital information parents need.

It would be immensely helpful if the middle school principal could just stand up and say, “Hey, parents? You are about to do more driving in the next four years than you ever thought possible and you won’t have time for anything in your own life because high school sports take up 950 hours of your time every week.” Amiright?

And, it all starts out so innocently.

A football game here. A school dance there. Then it’s, “Hey, Ma, Scott is having the guys over to watch a movie, can I go?” and in your haste to support your teen doing something other than staring at a Fortnite screen, you say yes before you realize that Scott lives 20 minutes away.

And your Friday night is blown to hell because you spend 40 minutes driving your teen to Scott’s house, then back home again, only to have to turn around and go back as soon as you arrive home. A glass of wine on Friday night, or any night of the week frankly, is a thing of the past because you are always at the ready to operate heavy machinery.

And, parents, a word about carpooling, if I may? PLEASE CAN WE CARPOOL? I know it gets weird when your kid starts making friends with kids you don’t know and you feel a little strange sending a “Please help me, I’m drowning in driving hell. I don’t even care if you have a questionable driving record: can you drive them there if I pick them up?” text to a parent but let me clear something up: we are not going to survive without carpools. So, please, text me. My answer will always be yes. Because I’m dying here.

Yes, I know, they’ll be driving soon and people tell me I’ll miss these days. As they get older, the time that I spend as a taxi driver will be short. I’ve heard parents say that when the passenger seat is empty, it’s a whole new kind of worry. I get it. I think.

No, wait. I don’t.

Because all I do is drive and manage the logistics of two teens with active school and social lives. On the days when I spend several hours in the car, I’m pretty damned close to channeling my inner 80s mom and demanding my kids use their bikes like Elliot and his friends did in E.T. Seriously, those kids practically went to space on their bikes and their mother was none the wiser.

I want that kind of bliss.

For now, though, my teens are living their best lives with their friends and I have a collection of Starbucks cups littering my car. This is my life now and if you haven’t arrived here yet, consider yourself warned. Good luck.

(Oh, and text me if you want to carpool. Seriously.)

Christine Burke

Christine Burke started the popular parenting blog, Keeper of The Fruit Loops six years ago on a whim. Since then, her work has been featured on the Today Show, Scary Mommy, Grown and Flown and other parenting websites. In her spare time, she runs marathons, collects thrift shop finds and eats ice cream like it’s her job.