Tuesdays are the worst.
That's the day that Finn's got gymnastics, Malindi's got karate - and then Sparks, and Kenya's got hip-hop. As for me, I've generally got a headache, borne of the responsibility for physically transporting these extra-curricular enthusiasts to their various destinations.
I have become, I am surprised to report, a clichÃ©. I drive a minivan. I use it to ferry children from place to place to place. Said minivan is littered with all manner of fast-food debris. No one ever thanks me for the lift. No one ever offers to (a) pay for gas, (b) shampoo the interior or (c) share their french fries. I am a soccer mom.
It is amazing how much time we spend in the car, shuttling between one obligation and the next. When one of my four children requests a playdate with a pal, it almost always requires an automobile-enhanced delivery. So too does a trip to the library to return overdue books and a visit to the office-supplies store to buy Bristol board and popsicle sticks for a school project. Along the route, if need be, I drop other children at other points of call, including swimming lessons, Brownies meetings and birthday parties. A clever parent, I have learned, organizes her kids' automobile-powered appointments in packs. There's much less to-ing and fro-ing that way.
When we were kids - my faulty and occasionally selective memory seems to recall - things were different. Lessons were more sporadic. The guts of cars were less grungy. And nobody could imagine the day you might watch half a Spongebobs Squarepants episode on your way to a ballet class. In fact, I can't remember spending very much time in the family automobile at all. Certainly, there were trips to the grandparents' house on Sunday evenings, and journeys to the cottage on adrenaline-fueled summer days. But we walked to school, and took the subway to flute lessons and drawing classes at the art gallery. If we had some kind of athletic practise, it took place in the schoolyard on the heels of the school day, and then we would find our own way home. I don't remember the trail of exhaust-spewing vehicles awaiting little passengers on the perimeter of our school, as they do today.
Now, for good or bad, moms' taxi services have become the norm. Drive-through restaurants have sprung up to accommodate our on-the-move culture. We keep a soccer ball in the trunk and a canister of pre-moistened towelettes in the glove compartment. We are ready, at a moment's notice, to take to the streets in our cars.
I guess a big part of the transition can be chalked up to our culture's uneasiness about letting kids travel to their own appointments. Or perhaps it's in pursuit of the much-celebrated "quality time" that parents feel compelled to share their children's fun, even if it's packed into a seven-minute car trip across the top of the neighbourhood. In any case, we are spending more of our days in the family jalopy than ever before, much of it en route to various kid-centric events.
And Tuesdays, at least for some of us, are the worst.