Unwanted Chauffeur Duties
By Sarah L. Hunter
September 22, 2021
“Mom…. Mom!” I whispered, shaking her shoulder. “Mom, you gotta get up! You gotta drive me to practice!” Groaning and rolling over, Mom squinted at the clock. She looked at me and mumbled incoherently.
She paused, then muttered “was I speaking English or German?”
“German!” I hissed.
Another pause. “What do you want?” she grumbled, in English this time.
“It’s 5:30, Ma. I’ve got morning practice today, remember? You gotta drive me!”
“No,” she replied, “and also no.” After a furious, whispered argument, Mom grudgingly got out of bed, slowly got dressed, and even more slowly got in the car. She had a thousand-yard stare in her eyes and drove silently. “Your coach,” she said, as we arrived at school, “geht mir auf den Keks.”*
Early morning practices were useless since everyone was half-asleep. The team and I would slog through drills, half-heartedly chasing basketballs and meandering around the court. This was the one time in my life that I looked forward to class. Our coach was the only one having a good time; he was as peppy as a greyhound on steroids.
“Come on, put some effort into it!” he would cheer, as I groggily tossed the ball at the net. We eventually woke up enough to practice decently, aaaaand by then we were out of time. The water in the showers hadn’t been warm since the coal shortage in the sixties. Wet and freezing, I’d try to make myself decent enough to survive another day of teenage judgement. I usually ended up with a tomato-red face and runny mascara — not my best look.
My sister, Emma, was heavily involved in the school’s theatre program, and after-school rehearsals were constant. The egocentric drama teacher (who walked around barefoot and didn’t wear deodorant) kept students in the theatre until evening. Our poor parents took turns, mom driving me to practice at stupid o’clock in the morning, and dad picking up Emma just when he wanted to relax after work. (The drama teacher faced some scrutiny when half her class came down with a raging case of Mono.)
After years of being impromptu chauffeurs, my parents resigned once Emma got her driver’s license. This meant I now had to ask Emma for rides, which she gave with the regularity of snowfall in the Sahara.
So, what did I learn from these various school activities?
My mother was not a morning person.
My sister could be bribed with copies of Teen People Magazine
Physical activities are impossible to perform before 7 a.m.
Sports and theatre are great; they build confidence and promote teamwork. But for the love of monkeys, does anyone think of the parents? Those poor parents rising from the depths of sleep or climbing out of their comfortable chairs to ferry their kids around? I’m once again awestruck by the sacrifices my parents made to keep Emma and me happy. My mother would jokingly say “someday you’ll have kids, and then you’ll see,” and darned if she wasn’t right. I already know that my kids will be itching to play sports and join dance classes, and soon it’ll be me be behind the wheel of our van at stupid o’clock, grumbling about early morning practices!
*A German colloquialism, literally meaning “to go on someone’s cookie”, which translates as “you’re pissing me off!”