Written by Abigail, #5
Most teenagers can expect to get a car when they are 16 or 17 and freshly licensed. I am not one of those teenagers. However, being deprived of my own car has opened doors to so many more life skills and memories with my family than I ever thought possible. It hit me especially recently as school ended and my summer job(s) started, my dad’s sportswriting kicked into high gear with baseball season, Aidan, #6, started his first job, and Mom started a new job. Whew! So many people and so much coordination needed to happen and we had two cars to do it. Well, really one and three-quarters because while the 2001 Subaru Forester, affectionately known as Seamus, runs, we always have to say a little prayer every time we turn the key in the ignition.
Most Sunday evenings in the Thomas household, you will inevitably find Dad approaching one kid at a time, often with a piece of paper in hand, to find out their weekly schedule so we can begin mapping out who gets the car at what times and which days. Literally mapping out…like with a spreadsheet, except it’s usually the back side of a torn envelope because that’s more Dad’s style.
We have actually resorted to drawing battle plans to figure out our complex schedules, thanks to Keegan (#4) and his military training. Scheduling has become such a huge part of our lives that it takes over a great deal of our conversation, even our family prayers before dinner. Here is one such example:
Family: Finishing dinner prayer
Mom: “Please keep Kelly safe on her trip tomorrow.”
Dad: “And please keep…Wait, where are you going tomorrow, Kel? What car are you taking?”
Kelly: “Dad, I’m taking the Subaru to the airport to pick up my rental car, Keegan will meet me there in Mom’s car to pick up the Subaru, I’m leaving for Pennsylvania, Keegan will take the car to get a haircut…”
Dad: “Wait, if I have to be at work at 3, how is that going to work out? I guess I could come in with Keegan, and he can drop me off at work and then come get you…oh, but then he’ll have to come get me when the baseball game’s over…”
(keep in mind, we are all still holding hands at this point)
Mom: (suddenly remembers that we are holding hands and clears her throat loudly)
Dad: “Oh right..” (finishes prayer)
…you get the picture. The fact that we kids never had our own cars taught us how to coordinate with other people, how to keep others in consideration when making our plans (a crucial skill for any successful adult), and of course to time-manage because our schedule’s success depended on what others’ schedules were.
Because I didn’t have my own car, I got to spend some quality time with my parents and my siblings as we were shipped off to our respective locations, whether it be school, jobs, or a friend’s house. I never had my own car to drive to high school, but that never really bothered me because my dad worked at the school, Keegan went to the same school as me and then Aidan joined the ranks after Keegan graduated.
I will always treasure the mornings we made those drives into school (about 20 miles). We perfected our lip-synching, dancing, and singing skills, which were probably not as good as we thought they were. Dad usually watched with a disparaging shake of the head but you could tell he was trying not to laugh. I learned how to do the incredibly cool dance referred to as the “lawn mower” (Dad is a star with that dance, to the great pride and joy of mom).
I have laughed a lot in our cars, drank a lot of coffee, sang (badly), danced (even worse), and made so many memories that I would never have if I’d had my own car.