By Kay Wyma.
As has been established, I’m not going to cut it as Mom Grand Supreme, but I am in the running for Carpool Queen. Maybe not Carpool Queen… but Miss … okay, Ms. (it has been a long time since “Miss” has been uttered before my name. “Hey Lady”, yes … “Miss”, not so much), Ms Carpool America. That, I’m in the running for.
I’ve been in training for the coveted crown for the last several years. I had a shaky start. See Also: our first child’s 2-week well check at the pediatrician where when through post-partum tears I fought the car seat and lost. No matter how hard I tried, with my mother by my insecure side, I could not get that baby carrier out of its base. So into the office we went carrying the entire contraption.
Today, I think I could whip a kid in and out of a car seat in two seconds flat. And, Car Seat Extraction is one of the Ms. Carpool America Talent sections in which contestants are required to participate.
Ms. Carpool America is a combination pageant/talent show/rodeo/X Game genre. Granted no major media outlet has picked it up this extravaganza for world-wide view and celebration. But contestants around the globe hone their skills every day. And it’s impressive.
Talent categories include:
Car Seat Skills which include the aforementioned Car-Seat Extraction drill. Contestants also get to show off their ability to handle and subdue squirmy, often screaming, escape artists. Extra points are awarded to contestants for speed, agility and ninja-like seat-belt buckling skills. Contestants are judged on attitude, fortitude and creativity – especially as it relates to methods of distracting young children into submission. This event has been compared to steer wrestling on the Pro Rodeo circuit.
Navigation skills. In this category, contestants are given multiple drop-off and pick-up zones with overlapping start and stop times. Ms. Carpool America contestants display their multitasking prowess as they mentally map-out the best and most efficient routes all while picking up kids in need of a ride.
Conversation Steering. Ms. Carpool America can seamlessly steer a conversation without so much as a blink from the riders unknowingly (or knowingly) headed down the wrong road. Judges award contestants who can swoop in, grab words, gently and instantly arranging them so that kids find themselves reaching for up-lifting, appropriate and encouraging phrases. Special recognition is given to Moms who can weave humor into the situation. An award is reserved for the contestant who arrives at her destination with every rider saying “something nice” rather than “nothing at all.”
Multi-tasking. This category requires quick reflexes: can clean up spills during a single red light stop. Flexibility: can reach an arm from the driver’s to back seat to separate siblings, dispense multiple orders from a fast-food window, and quick-clean a staggeringly messy floorboard before a non-family member opens the door to get, all in a single car-ride. Split-second decision making: what to do when lost or faced with a kid “I forgot” (as in lunch, homework, or to tell you the kid needed to be somewhere … plus many more)
Wear multiple hats. This category not only judges the ability of contestants to sport multiple hats, but also takes into account their design skills and ability to wear multiple hats at the same time. Past winners have incorporated Cheerleader, Nurse, Counselor, Coach, Comedian, Sherpa and more into their behind-the-wheel wardrobe as they celebrate successes, laugh at the same knock-knock jokes as if told for the first time, and offer sage wisdom while navigating the rules of the road.
Agility. Contestants are judged on their ability to swiftly navigate timed-tasks. Past winners dazzled the audience with their cat-like reactions as they moved from punching in their PIN at the ATM, to finding their sunglasses, to searching for a pen, then signing homework and killing a mosquito in one seamless motion all with a carload of screaming kids.
As always, the standard categories are included. Contestants are tested on their ability to:
-find their home from “Away” sporting events when their phone/GPS is out-of-battery phone
-locate items “lost” in the car like library books, shoes, sports equipment, homework, etc.
-offer countless words of wisdom and encouragement to all the riders, not just her own children
-process multiple conversations at the same time
-be “Beautiful” – basically the ability to confidently wear any attire (including pajamas) and to pump gas when thrown an empty tank curve ball
-chat with a friend without a care in the world while an emotional nuclear bomb explodes in the back seat…and more
Ms. Carpool America is held after school at headquarters of 7-11. Prizes include a set of Beats earphones, a year’s supply of Chic-Fil-A sweet tea, a year’s supply of Slurpees, a life-time pass at Wavewash to take handle all the spills.
Everyone entered receives a lifetime of memories, great conversations and a countless rear-view mirror moments.
Kay Wyma is the author of Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. She shares the hilarity and the tears that come with raising adolescents & teens on her blog The Moat … because who wants to walk that road alone.