Carpooling.  For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health – it’s a way of life at Loyola.  I know many moms of 7th and 8th graders who really worry about the commute to Loyola and whether they’ll be able to work out a carpool.  As my friends and I have learned, it’s not only possible, but is actually a really special time with our sons and their friends.  Carpooling is truly the “Mom Network” at it’s very best.  I don’t know how the moms of years ago managed their carpools, but I do know that we couldn’t live without group texting and websites like Sign-Up Genius today.  Carpools are a living, breathing, fluid entity – and I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had for anything!

I have an 8-passenger SUV – the gold-standard for driving carpool.  My only concern as the other moms and I started planning was how to get one mom, seven teenage boys, seven backpacks and a variety of PE bags, football shoulder pads, lacrosse sticks, water bottles, and lunches into the car – and still be able to see out the back window.    What a sight we were, traveling down the Glendale Freeway and Alvarado Blvd., with a large car-carrier holding the majority of that gear riding on top – especially the days when the boys didn’t secure all the straps tightly!  And, we did look a little like a clown car as the seven boys tumbled out of the car after we pulled in to the parking lot off of Pico, but that all added to the adventure.

I’ve had some great discussions with the boys during our morning commutes.  I’ve learned so much about many of the teachers – their sense of humor, pet peeves, the type and amount of homework they give, whether their tests are brutal or easy – the boys talk about it all.  I loved being a fly on the wall as they giddily anticipated the first dance of the year and speculated if there really would be more than 2000 girls in attendance.  I happily listened as they planned their “promposals” for the winter formal and then shared the details of how it went.

We have had quiet mornings when everyone just wants to sleep, mornings when there are several individual conversations going on at once, mornings when one of the boys is full of energy and the whole car gets involved in his humor, mornings when the boys take turns playing DJ and sharing their favorite music – the clean versions of course ;) and everything in between.  We love playing along with the contestants on Battle of the Sexes at 7:10 every morning on 104.3 MyFM, seeing who can answer the quickest and laughing at how bad some of the answers are.  We even called in one day and won tickets on the air!

It’s been fun watching the group in my rear-view mirror as they have been going through the process of getting their driving permits and driver’s licenses.  Three of them now have that magical symbol of freedom and maturity, with two more hoping to get it next week and the last two before the end of December.  They are all still riding with me some days, but the carpool is definitely changing and I must admit that it’s making me sad.  I know that this special time with my son and the others is coming to an end – far sooner than I ever thought possible, and is like many of the milestones that I have watched come and go over the years – both joyful and bittersweet.