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Parents Talk: I'll Be Your Taxi Driver for the Next 16 or 18 Years

Are you going to fire me as your chauffeur—please?

You probably saw the news from the United States Department of Agriculture that middle class families with a child born in 2011 can expect to spend $234,900 over the next 17 years.

You may not have heard that $200,000 of that goes for gasoline.

They don't tell you when you have kids that you're starting your own taxi service. High schoolers take home baby dolls that cry every 20 minutes to simulate the travails of parenthood. But unless they take home two or more dolls that demand to be driven to opposite ends of the metro area simultaneously, they really have no idea what they're in for. 

On Wednesday, my 15-year-old fired me as taxi driver. The day before, I'd chauffered him and three of his friends, ironically enough, to driver's ed class. They wouldn't want a ride again because I'd been late, he explained—though he didn't say whether that was on our way there, when none of them were ready at their houses, or after class, when he'd called to say class had ended early.

In a way, being fired was a relief. I took pride in my job but I didn't mind seeing it in the rear view mirror.

I didn't stay fired long, of course. Within five hours, there was an emergency trip from the science museum in St. Paul to a soccer field across town at rush hour. And a couple hours later rain was falling from the sky, making travel by any other means than my car impossible. 

Being a laid-off chauffer was nice while it lasted.

Oh no, look at the time—I'll never get home in time to get my 11-year-old to tennis class by 10 a.m.!

Maybe she'll fire me.

Are you satisfied with your lot in life as a taxi driver to your children? Tell us in the comments below.

B. Martin June 23, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Certainly, you are entitled to your opinions and choices but to call kids wimps when you are unaware of the details is not appropriate. You have no idea of the ages of the kids, or the distance needed to be traveled.
ann delaney June 23, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I agree with B martin Looking at Cedar Phillips comment, I see an absence of respect . Later, how you respond and act in the interest of your child will show in their relationship with you. Trust me, kids are not stupid.
Cedar Phillips June 23, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Calm down. I'm not calling your kids wimps -- I was being flippant, but I think the line about there being no other form of transportation because it was raining was, well, a bit of a cop out. I think the problem of kids not being able to get around is due to the parents, not to the kids, however. It's part of a parent's responsibility to help their children learn how to navigate in the world. That means helping them to learn how to ride the bus, perhaps how to safely ride a bike, how to walk to the park. If you, as a parent, prefer to drive your children everywhere and to spend hours of your life that is indeed your choice, but to hear people talk about it you'd think it was the ONLY option out there. I also tend to think it's a very limiting view of the world; I doubt most teenagers want to feel dependent on their parents to get around. But if they've never been given the opportunity to learn how to navigate on their own (or use an umbrella?) how can we expect them to suddenly become independent? In any case, if you don't want to drive your children everywhere the solution is easy: DON'T. (although admittedly with young kids you're still going to need to go with them, but in that case why not use it as a learning opportunity and go via bike, foot, or bus? Not everything has to revolve around a car! And if you decide to drive everywhere, well, again, that's your choice. It is one option out of many. Don't like it, don't do it.)
Cedar Phillips June 23, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Oops -- belatedly realized that this was what appears to be an all-Twin Cities patch article, and not specific to Southwest Minneapolis and its neighbors. I'm sure some of these differences of opinions depend on where you live in the metro area. But in SW, where there are buses, safe sidewalks, and safe biking conditions, it's reasonable to think that it's easy enough to get around without driving, if you so choose. Obviously that's definitely not the case in all areas of the Twin Cities, and clearly spending more time in the car is one of the trade-offs made for living in certain locations. I'd still encourage you to make sure your kids get exposure to different forms of transportation, though. Obviously no one is going to be sending their six year old off on the city bus, but I think it's a form of respect to your older kids to help them develop a sense of independence that's not dependent on a car.
ann delaney June 23, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Right on Cedar Phillips, your last two comments make more sense than the first one. Years ago when I was in this situation, there was no bus service available and distance was a problem. I drove my kids to and from because I didn't want them to miss the opportunity to do things like sports, library, swimming etc. It was a hassle at times but the rewards were worth it.

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