Getting children into the car: the next Olympic sport


Most days I wouldn’t even get a bronze. In fact, maybe I wouldn’t even make it through the Olympic Trials. But there are days when I feel I should get at least a nod for successfully getting our boys to the car.

The morning trip to the car could be one event. When we finish our not-so-synchronized breakfast-eating, we have time for a few minutes of play, shoes go on, and we head out the door.

On a good day, Leo and Daniel sprint to the car, jump in, climb into their seats, and wait for me to buckle them in.

Sometimes we pause on our way to point out a plane flying out of BWI.

Some days we stop to see rocks or flowers or bees.

On the more common days—the days that would make for better primetime viewing—one son races down our hill toward the back of the house, while his brother discovers a broom on the porch and tries to use it to pole vault over the railing.

Sometimes we drop a stuffed animal or two, realize we forgot the lunchboxes, or someone falls and scrapes a knee. Then we stop, regroup, and start the whole event over again. We rarely set records, but we always get there in the end.

Where the boys truly shine, though, is in the afternoon event.

They enjoy their time at preschool, but they are positively delighted when I arrive to pick them up. We have a joyous reunion as the hugs turn into a chaotic celebration and then an intense race to see which one can reach the water fountain first.

We athletes have to stay hydrated, you know.

Some days just getting out the school door is as complicated and mysterious as figuring out water polo. I collect lunchboxes, stuffed sleeping friends, artwork, wet bathing suits, and look around to realize one son is in the bathroom and the other is playing with a plastic pig. When we finally get Team Buettner back into a huddle, we still have to make it out the door, up the sidewalk, and to the car.

And this is where the real weakness in our Olympic team is revealed, because our youngest teammate wants so badly to win the race that he often leaves us in his dust. This is a new experience for me. I used to assume children stopped when you yelled “Stop.” I also thought maybe there was an innate fear of roads and parking lots. That is, in fact, not true. And it scares me.

The other day in frustration I said to Daniel, “If you can’t stay with us when we are walking toward the car, maybe I need to get a leash.”

“Oh, Mama!” said Leo. “Can I have a leash too? Then I could be like a bear in the circus.”

Hmm. Maybe he’s onto something—and I don’t mean the leash idea. But perhaps it’s time for me to give up on our Olympic dreams.

Maybe we have a better shot at a venue with different kinds of rings: the circus.

Joining Theology Is a Verb and Reconciled to You for Worth Revisiting Wednesday on Aug. 10, 2016.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.