Dear Hobie & Monk,
We’ve been in a carpool for a year or two, trading off driving our son and his friend to and from rehearsals about an hour away twice a week. The other family started having excuses for why they didn’t need a ride (and why they couldn’t drive our son), and finally we saw a third boy who’s old enough to have a driver’s license taking the friend to and from these rehearsals. This third boy is also a friend of our son — and we feel dumped! It feels rude that the other family didn’t give us a heads-up or ask if we’d like to be included in a bigger carpool.
- Life in the Carpool Lane
Monk: You feel dumped because you were dumped, but you may be relieved to know that you probably aren’t being excluded. In some states (including Virginia), new motorists are allowed to drive with only one passenger who is not a family member.
In this case, that passenger is your ex-carpooler. So, it’s possible that the family with whom you schlepped sons for almost two years found a more convenient way to get to rehearsal — for them.
Hobie: I’m convinced that anyone who has consistently and successfully navigated the world of carpooling over a period of years without incident either a) has diplomacy skills rivaling those of senior State Department officials or b) is lying and has never actually been in a carpool. Seriously, Monk and I get a regular stream of heated descriptions of bad carpool behavior, and I think it’s because these arrangements provide so many repeated opportunities for everyone’s poor interpersonal skills to be deployed when challenges arise.
And challenges always do arise, especially when one party’s need for convenience shifts. In your case, the other two families absolutely behaved badly, and although you can’t control the ultimate outcome, here’s what you can control: the way you talk about the situation with your son and the way you continue to interact with the other parents.
Your son is old enough to have a candid discussion with you about how lousy this all felt and how you as a family would have handled it differently. And since it sounds like you’ll continue to see these other parents, think about how you’d like to model appropriate adult conversations about a potentially tricky topic (like ditching your regular carpool) by instigating an appropriate adult conversation about how you would have appreciated a heads-up.
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Hobie and Monk are two Alexandria women with husbands, children, dogs, jobs, mortgages, unmet New Year’s resolutions, obsessions with impractical shoes, English novels … and Ph.D.s in clinical psychology. Their advice, while fabulous, should not be construed as therapeutic within a doctor-patient context or substituted for the advice of readers’ personal advisors.