Mom Ditches Her Kids at Pickup to Teach Them a Lesson

mom in car
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If you're like me (and countless other moms), you probably spend a lot of your time sitting in your parked car waiting for your kid to come out of somewhere -- school, practice, their friend's house -- and wondering what in the world could possibly be taking him so long. It's the most infuriating time-suck of all, which is why one mom decided to teach her sons a lesson by leaving them to find their own way home from football practice when they made her wait for what she felt was an unreasonable length of time. 

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As mother-of-three Maureen Paschal wrote in a blog post at Today, she'd already been waiting in a carpool for 27 minutes on that hot August afternoon (so, probably too long to keep the air conditioner running -- gas is expensive!), and she was feeling anxious about getting her youngest son to Scouts on time. So when she saw her sons come straggling out, slowly, from the locker room ... and then stop to talk to a friend ... she was NOT happy:

I had been sitting in a hot August afternoon carpool for 27 minutes, watching — watching the post-practice huddle, watching other waiting moms, watching those other waiting moms' kids trickling down the sidewalk to waiting cars, watching the clock, watching for my two sons to emerge from the locker room — so that I could GO. 

I watched with increasing anxiety and panic because I still had to drive home, pick up my third son, and get him to Scouts in time to leave on a camping trip. My anxiety level was through the roof, and then, finally, I saw my boys…walking…slowly to the car…stopping to talk with a friend…and…I put my car into drive and pulled away.

Aww, snap! Can you imagine what went through those boys' heads when they saw their mom driving away?

As a mother-of-three, I have to admit my first reaction to this story was to worry about what happened to the kids (spoiler alert: They're totally fine, they found a ride home with an older boy at practice who lives in their neighborhood). But then I saw a photo of Maureen and her sons and realized they were closer to teens than toddlers at the time -- and I started to empathize with this mom's story a little more.

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My two older kids are in high school and middle school, and I've logged countless hours sitting in my car alone (or, worse, trying to entertain their antsy younger brother in his car seat), looking anxiously out the window, texting them a series of increasingly desperate messages: "Almost done?" "Coming soon?" "Hello?!" "?????"

I, too, have fantasized about peeling out of school parking lots (usually in those fantasies my car also turns into a plane and flies me away to a spa on a tropical island). Unfortunately, I'm also a bit on the paranoid side, so my fantasies are likely to turn into nightmare scenarios involving something horrible happening to my kids as they try to make their way home. So while I would never actually leave without them, I can completely relate to the feelings Maureen expresses here:

Yep, I left my middle school sons at carpool, and it was the most intoxicating, liberating thing I had done since they were born. For the record, I wasn't abandoning them in a back alley somewhere. They were at the school field, it was broad daylight, and there were tons of people around.

By my estimation, I had already spent years of my life sitting in carpool lines. Years of my intelligent, college-educated life spent waiting for and watching other people doing things.

It's demoralizing to spend your life always waiting for and watching other people — even people you love.

It is demoralizing to spend your life waiting for and watching other people, even people you love. And it's honestly a relief to hear another mom say so. I agree that Maureen likely did teach her sons a series of valuable lessons in leaving them behind -- namely, "hustle," "ingenuity," "consideration," and that their mom has a life of her own -- even if I'm personally too much of a pushover to try the same thing.

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Of course, this tactic could have backfired. And some commenters on the blog took issue with her tough-love approach: "Abandonment does not equal independence," wrote one woman, while another claimed that "for NO reason" would she ever leave her sons at school "on purpose."

But the vast majority of readers have been completely supportive of what Maureen did. And apparently, the boys really did take their mom's message to heart. As she wrote:

I knew my guys had learned their lesson when, a few years later, we gave one of the kids in our neighborhood a ride to football practice. As we sat waiting at the curb, the friend emerged from his house and began to walk slowly toward our car. Before I knew it, one son was yelling out the window 'Dude, HUSTLE,' while the other was racing up the friend’s walk to grab his equipment while shouting, 'Move it, my mom's got stuff to do.'

Wow. It's a pretty huge deal for a kid to acknowledge that his parent has things to do that have -- gasp! -- nothing to do with being a parent. This mom's lesson was really about being unselfish. And, with any luck, those boys will take that point with them through the rest of their lives.

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