by Theresa Snyder
A few years ago, “Pack-it,” my gardening truck, was under the weather. This meant Dad had to transport me back and forth to work in his car. During that week of riding with Dad, I had time to reflect on the many times our parents toted us back and forth when my brothers and I were school kids.
I didn’t have to deal with buses because Mom and Dad drove us to school for classes as well as all after-school events.
Because I was a sick little kid, I never attended first or second grade. By the time I was well enough to go to school, the school administrators decided I was too tall to be in first grade. They felt it would give me a complex. They put me right into third grade. I was lost.
For my fourth, fifth and sixth grades, Mom and Dad sent me to a private school so I could catch up. One could say my mother worked my way through grade school. She was the librarian at my school and her pay took care of my tuition. Therefore, I – and later my little brother – rode to school with her.
We often had to make a dash for class because we were usually late. Mom had a hard time getting so many kids out of the house in time to make the first class.
I secretly liked it when Mom was really rushed because then she didn’t have the time to pack my lunch. When lunchtime arrived, she would take me to the local A&W for a root beer and some sort of sandwich. While we ate, we would have girly talk. This was the precursor to our tea talks later in life.
When I entered middle school, I could ride with my father because it was just a walk through the city park from the high school where he taught.
Dad was never awake in the morning until he had his cup of coffee. Unfortunately, he often made and packed our lunches before he had finished that first cup.
No one at school would trade lunches with a Snyder kid. You never knew what you were getting. The sandwich might have two slices of bread with mayonnaise and no meat or cheese. It might have bread and meat, but no butter or mayonnaise. We learned to look before we took a bite.
Once when I checked, I considered myself especially lucky because I had bread, – two pieces mind you – meat, cheese AND mayonnaise. I took a big bite and found that Dad forgot to remove the paper label that was on the last slice of Oscar Mayer lunchmeat! I ended up with a mouth full of paper.
Aside from the lunch fiascoes, riding with Dad was an adventure in itself. When the middle school day was over, I walked back through the park to catch a ride home with him. He was always in the process of scooting the boys out of the auto shop; then there was the long walk across campus to the front office where he had to turn in his keys for the night. At six feet tall, he took very long strides. I would half-run to keep up with him or else hang on to his arm to slow him down.
Once at the office, he stopped to talk with the secretaries, any teachers that he ran into and any of his students lagging behind. I never planned anything for after school because I couldn’t depend on Dad getting out on time.
I rode with my father during my high school years, too. I learned that if I joined after school groups I could skip all the routine of his closing the shop and going to the main office. However, many afternoons and evening were spent waiting for Mom or Dad to pick me up from choir or drama practice. All my classmates were picked up by parents actually waiting for them to get out of practice.
My mom and dad tried to be on time, but with so many kids, their “taxi service” always ran just a bit behind schedule. As with real taxis, we learned we had to be patient.
What brought all these memories to mind? Dad had been sitting there waiting for me each night when I got off work. I really like being an “only,” older child. The taxi service is so much better.
This is the eleventh in a monthly series, “We 3,” which introduces VoiceCatcher readers to Theresa Snyder and her stories – sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious, always authentic – about caring for aging parents. First printed as a monthly column in the Gresham Outlook between 2003 – 2008, they were collected in book-form in 2007 (Mt. Hood Community College Press). The columns have been updated and are reprinted here with permission of the author.
Theresa Snyder has been writing ever since she can remember. In 1996, shortly after she moved her elderly parents in with her, she realized she couldn’t resist writing “out loud.” She found an audience in east county interested in reading about the challenges and rewards of being a baby boomer caregiver. Unlike other authors, she does not possess a degree or a long list of publishing credits. Instead, she likes to think she has earned her title as “author” through life experience and a great deal of reading. Check out her work at Baby Boomer Caregiver.