1. Education: A Liberal Arts Degree Is Good for Something!
An advanced degree in philosophy is perfect for this task. As you spend day after day driving the same streets it will give you plenty of time to mull over certain philosophical questions: Was Hobbes right? Is life “nasty, brutish and short?” Or is it actually closer to the protracted hell of being stuck in cross-town traffic with a group of 10-year-old boys having a farting contest? There’s a dissertation in there somewhere.
2. A Liberal Arts Degree Is Good for Something, Part 2!
If you didn’t study philosophy, a degree in English literature or anthropology is almost as good since you knew when you graduated that the only jobs you were qualified to do were to drive a cab or work on a tramp steamer (where you would collect raw material for your novel or your groundbreaking anthropological study). So you were mentally prepared for the notion that you would be working long hours in smelly, unpleasant conditions for very little money. Excellent training for driving carpool except for the part about being paid.
3. Religious Background
When one child is slamming your cup holder over and over again trying to break it, two others are having a fist fight over who gets the chocolate chip granola bar and the fourth one is singing at the top of their lungs, it helps to have training as a Buddhist nun. Taking deep breaths, stopping to meditate and embracing the notion that life is pain will also help to keep you from losing it when that A-hole in a Mercedes station wagon cuts you off in front of the freeway entrance.
4. How Much NPR Can You Listen to Before You Throw Up?
Do you try to run your errands based on what time All Things Considered is on? Have you heard so many stories about experimental cancer treatments that you could pretty much open a lab? Do you find yourself saying things in that same annoying upper class British accent that all the overseas NPR correspondents seem to have? Not to worry. The truth is, sometimes NPR is the only thing standing between you and complete brain rot. Even if your young charges start to whine that they’d rather be listening to Katy Perry, stick to your guns and make them listen to another story about educational reform or the latest breakthrough in malaria vaccines. Either they’ll learn something or they’ll beg their parents to have another mom drive them.
5. Tolerance of Other People’s Children
When a kid spills chocolate milk all over your backseat (again) do you flip out? When another child asks you and your son to stop talking and turn off the radio so they can read in peace while you drive them home, are you actively thinking about booting them out of the car at the next stoplight? Are you starting to daydream about listing in detail to another parent how badly behaved their kids are? When these thoughts start to replace your fantasies involving the hunkier cast members of Game of Thrones, it’s time to cancel some of those after-school activities.
6. Swearing Ability
Once in a while, preferably with only your child in the car, you have to cut loose. “Mommy, the other car can’t hear you,” my son, clearly worried about my sanity, used to tell me when he was younger. No, they can’t. But it makes mommy feel so much better to tell that stupid mofo to get his f**king head out of his ass!
7. Physical Toughness
Everyone knows that driving carpool means having a strong back and the ability to tune out background noise, but it also helps to have a digestive tract that can handle a diet of fast food, stale fish crackers and melted gummy bear vitamins without sending you to the emergency room.