Chauffeuring Teenage Boys And Trying To Be The “Cool” Mom

January 13, 2013 in Parenting,Teenagers

20030688-E.jpgEven though my boys are involved in lots of activities, we don’t do much carpooling because in our town, everything is very close together so we can travel to the baseball fields and basketball courts within minutes. Middle Dude frequently walks home from school with his buddies and Big Dude takes a bus so we don’t too much school carpooling either. On the occasions where I do have to drive an SUV full of rowdy boys, I keep my mouth shut, except for asking a question like, “How was practice guys?” or “Where do you live Michael?” These trips are generally short so I don’t feel the need to make conversation anyway. But, the other night I had a whole different carpooling experience.

Big Dude had a camp reunion with all his buddies from the summer which involved the camp party, and an after-party dinner. Like typical boys, there was haphazard planning and last-minute changes, but by the time Saturday night came, the plan was set, or so I thought: I would drop Big Dude off at the reunion, pick him up two hours later, take him to the dinner, and then pick him up after dinner and take him home. Except 30 minutes minutes after I dropped him off at the dinner, he called to ask if he could go to a girl’s house after the dinner with a bunch of other camp friends.

“Uh, sure. How long are you going to stay there?” I asked, mainly because my husband and I were killing time nearby, because the camp festivities were a 45 minute drive away from the suburb where we lived. We had to hang out, as it made no sense to drive back and forth.

“Oh, I’ll just go over there for 20 minutes.” Big Dude said.

Well, I already knew that was a complete underestimation. A bunch of teenage boys getting together with a bunch of teenage girls for just 20 minutes? Yeah, right.

I pleaded with Big Dude to make a plan to sleep over at one of his friend’s houses who lived nearby. Within minutes, he arranged the sleepover and called me back. I thought I was off the hook, but then he said he needed me to drive him and his friends from the dinner to the girl’s house. The only reason I agreed was that my husband and I had had a nice dinner ourselves, and were already on dessert so I figured I’d be an obedient mom-chauffer. After I hung up, I realized I forgot to ask him where this girl lived.

Turns out, her house was about a 15-minute drive from the restaurant, which was tolerable because at least I was headed in the right direction towards home. My husband was in a separate car so he drove home while I went to get the boys. As they all piled into the car, I realized I had not carpooled a bunch of teenage boys before for an extended period of time and suddenly I felt awkward and self-conscious that I would embarrass my son.

I thought about my own teenage years, when my father would drive me and my girlfriends to the skating rink or to a movie. He inevitably would start singing, not to the radio, but to some old-fashioned song he had in his head. Within seconds, I’d cut him off and hiss, “Daddy, don’t sing!” He’d oblige, but I really don’t think he had been worrying about whether he appeared to be a cool dad or not. He just went about his carpool duty and if he felt like singing, he did. I, on the other hand, questioned every move I made.

Should the radio be on and if so, what station and how loud? I had it tuned to the 80’s satellite station, but I didn’t blast the music. I kept it at a respectable volume. I wondered if I should switch it to Hip Hop or the Top 20 station.

Should I talk or not talk? A 15-minute ride is a long time for me to stay silent, but I really wasn’t sure if Big Dude wanted me to talk to his friends. So, I sort of chimed in from time to time, but mostly let them talk to each other.

Then, I took a wrong turn and the phrase, “oh shit” flew out of my mouth.

In their teenage eyes, a cursing mom would be the ultimate cool mom. At least that’s what I told myself. But, what if they thought I was inappropriate or setting a bad example? So, then I said, “sorry guys, you didn’t hear that.”

One of them chuckled, and then I wondered if I just made myself look MORE cool or LESS cool by apologizing. I had never second guessed myself so much in such a short amount of time. I pictured the boys mimicking me later.

The 15-minute car ride felt like an hour to my inexperienced, carpooling mindset. When we finally arrived at the girl’s house, the boys climbed out of the car, politely thanked me and eagerly went inside.

I figured if I embarrassed my son in front of his friends, I’d hear about it the next day.

He didn’t say a word. Maybe I am a cool mom after all.


{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel Harper January 14, 2013 at 9:42 am

The mom who picks him and his friends up, takes him to a girl’s house, and asks him to have a sleepover with one of his buddies instead of giving him a curfew and/or demands to meet the parents of said girls? You’re the cool mom, and my bet is, the friends think it too.


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:41 pm

You know, it’s funny Rachel because I never even thought about a curfew in this case or meeting the girl’s parents (or even finding out if they were going to be home!) because these were friends from camp and I just assumed they were all nice people. And, another mom was picking them up at 11:30 so I figured, no curfew necessary. I think I was so relieved of being off carpool duty after that, that I never thought about these things! Good points though, which I will for sure remember for next time.


Roshni January 21, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I totally agree!! That’s exactly what I was going to say!! :)


Janine Huldie January 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

Even though I have girls, I know someday invariably I will be asking so many of the same questions you asked yourself here. I remember my parents embarrassing me at that age and in one way I hope I don’t do that, but in another way maybe a payback isn’t such a bad thing, lol!! Sorry I could resist and my girls will most likely hate me if I took the second route!!


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:39 pm

You know, now that you’ve commented about your girls, I’m thinking I should have expanded the post to include gender differences. I’m thinking that a mom driving her daughters would be less concerned about being “cool” than a mom driving her sons and same with a dad driving his sons vs. daughters…I could be wrong, though and maybe we’re all just paranoid that we are uncool parents no matter what — it might be something for me to explore for another post!


Alexa January 14, 2013 at 10:10 am

This is a great post. Isn’t it funny no matter how much we age and mature, we still have our insecurities about being cool? My kids are 5 and under so I’m lucky that I’m still a star in their eyes, but the time is rapidly coming when they realize I’m a big ole dork!! :-) I look forward to those awkward moments though. My parents never took me and my friends anywhere, so I always loved the parents who actually did!


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

You’re right Alexa, it is funny that we are still so insecure about the “cool factor” no matter what our age…unfortunately, I think no matter what, our kids may eventually think we are ALL big ole dorks!


Kelly January 14, 2013 at 10:44 am

Oh Emily! I bet you are a cool mom! My nephew is 15 and he frequently spends the weekend here and we were just talking about things parents do that are “uncool.” We ended up compiling a whole list of what things he and his friends find embarrassing that their parents do. A slip of “oh shit” while driving was not on that list.

Howling and shouting out your kids name at school events was one! Also – he reports that parents should never ever come and have lunch with their kid after elementary school:) haha


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

I’m relieved that cursing while driving is not on the list. It’s funny because I wrote an article for Patch a while back with the title, “The Silent Soccer Mom” and it was about how I NEVER scream my kids’ names out while they are playing a sport, so I’m glad I don’t do that either. Tell your nephew thank you — his list was very helpful as I try to achieve that “cool-mom status.”


Julie DeNeen January 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm

How could you not be a cool Mom? You blog! This was really good!


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Of course, you’re right — a blogging mom is ALWAYS a cool mom, no matter what. :)


MamaMarmalade January 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Totally cool Mum! Love that you took the time to think about it all – my parents used to embarrass me all the time, every time I’d get in the car with friends he’d talk with a different accent – he thought it was funny and I would just die in horror! lol.


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Oh boy, talking in a different accent sounds funny, at least now it does. I could see how you’d be embarrassed, but I think it’s ingenious!


Terrye January 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I must have been evil teenage-son mom the, cuz I went out of my WAY to embarrass my oldest son when he was a teenager. And all of his friends thought it was hilarious! That could be why we always had so many dang teenagers at our house!

Sounds like you might be on call to be the cool carpool mom again. 😉


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Ha – thanks! I kind of like your strategy…sounds like it worked too! Food for thought…


Cyndi January 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Oh man…I never thought about that with kiddos, but I know when I’m in the car with friends, I question every move I make. Oh boy…now I have that to look forward to with kiddos? LOL


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Don’t worry, your friends will never judge you in the car, but the kids when they’re with their friends…watch out!


clark January 14, 2013 at 7:35 pm

cool is usually the state attributed to parents who do not demonstrate the opposite.
I think back to when I was a kid, the only adult we didn’t think was cool, was the one who seemed to think they could ‘relate’ to us.
Not trying to make an impression really is the proper, cool adult thing to do!


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm

You’re right Clark – the parents who tried too hard were the ones we sometimes made fun of. I’ll continue to keep a low profile amongst the teens!


Amy January 14, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I think you are a cool mom, so you shouldn’t worry! I worry too though – I took my oldest daughter and her friend out to dinner last week and wasn’t sure how to handle myself at all. I didn’t want to seem like I was trying to be cool, I didn’t want to embarrass her, and I didn’t want to come off as a totally uncool mom. I have no idea how I did. :)


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Well, if you didn’t hear about it from your daughter after the fact, then that means you did great! :)


GirlieOnTheEdge January 14, 2013 at 7:55 pm

The fact that you did all that transporting place to place, and after dinner no less, is the ultimate in cool! No doubt both the boys and the girls thought you were “alright”:)


ohboymom January 14, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Aw thanks…and if not, well, I can always try again the next time as I’m sure there will be lots more carting around in the years ahead.


Carol January 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Wow, my kids are still little but you’ve highlighted something that I hadn’t yet thought of. Oh boy, it never ends does it? Just when you think you’ve either conquered a transition (or skimmed it with barely a shred of dignity), there’s always something else to think about. Great. And I’m only on “To Preschool, or Not To Preschool”. Oh, brother.


ohboymom January 15, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Yeah, it’s true but it never ends…from what phase to the next I always say. The preschool days with my kids seems like forever ago, but I still remember the same angst about the issues we were dealing with back then. You’ll be carpooling teenagers before you know it!


Michelle January 14, 2013 at 11:24 pm

You sound like a way cool mum, Emily. I think most of these teens think that adults are as normal as they are…just with more rules. Thanks for sharing!


ohboymom January 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Thanks Michelle and I think that’s what makes it tricky…since we do have rules, that can make us seem “uncool.” But, it’s better to be a good parent than a cool one.


Melanie Chisnall January 15, 2013 at 12:39 am

You made me think about when I was a teenager and my mom used to cart us around…sometimes my dad too. Wow, that was a lot of driving. It’s so funny to read that you’d think about what radio station to put on, because when I was Au Pairing and had to shuttle around the 15 year old boy and all his friends, I used to think the same thing – though they weren’t my children and I didn’t care if I embarrassed anyone except myself. Haha. So funny the things you think of when you’re driving other people around.


ohboymom January 15, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Yup I could see how being an au pair in that situation would cause you to have the same uncertainty about coolness, but you’re right, since they weren’t your children, the pressure was off, at least a little bit!


Rich Rumple January 15, 2013 at 5:18 am

Okay, in the first place, kids that age first look to see if the mom is “hot” or not. Then, they wonder if they need to watch what they say, for fear of it being repeated to their moms. After that, it’s a matter of being cool and not acting nervous. Remember, it’s your car and they’re only passengers. They’d be walking otherwise! Just don’t show up wearing a Jason Friday the 13th hockey mask, and you should do fine. Besides, after the profanity, you proved yourself “cool” by asking them to not tell their moms. That really means “I won’t tell what you say if you don’t tell what I say!” You now have their complete trust. Welcome to the world of permanent taxi driver! lol Great post!


ohboymom January 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Rich, that comment about whether the mom is “hot” or not cracked me up. You are so right, because my son tells me they have discussions like that. OY! I appreciate your reassurance that my potty mouth has made me the “cool” mom.


Kristi January 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Completely laughing out loud at your post today. LOVE IT. And seriously, I’m positive you’re the cool mom. Once, my dad drove me and some girlfriends to a party. Which would have been cool, had he NOT parked the car and come inside to make sure the party kid’s parents were home (they were). And that there wasn’t drinking (thankfully only in secret).


ohboymom January 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Sounds like your dad was a cool dad (and a GOOD dad) too, even though you didn’t think so at the time. :)


Kristi January 16, 2013 at 10:57 am

So true! I was mortified at the time. But now I get it. I wouldn’t want a teenage daughter of mine at a party with no parents and a bunch of beer either.


Stephanie @ Mommy, for real. January 16, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I *loved* that. That will totally be me someday; I can really relate to your mindset. I am prone to being neurotic and self-conscious, and I already have spent plenty of time over-thinking things when around other kids and moms. What should I wear? Should I try to be funny? Ack! I love the carpool backdrop for this post- great job!


ohboymom January 16, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Thanks Stephanie…you are so right that it’s the over-thinking that makes us paranoid about how we are perceived, whether it’s by other parents, kids, etc. We’ve got to stop thinking so much!


LisaD January 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm

I can totally picture your dad singing in the car! Now that you and I have children in high school I think we will both come to realize that being the “cool” mom is not as important as being the concerned mom. A lot changes as our kids become teenagers and I know we will both be active parents in our children’s lives. No matter how hard we try we are always going to embarass our kids just like our parents did to us and one day our children will embarass their own children. Keep up the good work. I know you’re cool and your kids know you’re a great mom!


ohboymom January 16, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Aww thanks, and same with you…someday our kids will realize just how cool we always were! :)


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