When Maria Hamilton rolled into the service center of her local Chevy dealership last week, there was some confusion among the staff. Hamilton had just purchased her brand-new 2022 Chevy Colorado days before, and, barring a case of buyer’s remorse, it was difficult to figure out why she was back so soon. After a short discussion with the manager, technicians put the Colorado on a lift and gave it the full 150-point inspection, topping off fluids and even rotating the tires before sending a satisfied Hamilton on her way. The reason for the visit? Well, Hamilton puts it best.
“If I don’t get these damn kids out of my house as soon as possible, I can’t be responsible for what happens,” says the chronically frazzled mother of three.
As the academic year approaches and schools begin opening at pre-pandemic levels, a generation of exhausted parents are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel––and driving towards it at breakneck speed. With distance learning coming to an end in most parts of the country, students are finally returning to the classroom and freeing parents from the tyranny of parenthood. Hamilton’s case is not an isolated one, with mechanics across the country reporting a record-high number of routine maintenance checks as parents attempt to rid their houses of their own children as quickly as humanly possible.
The story is the same anywhere you go: drivers bring in perfectly maintained cars in little need of repair, seeking assurance that it will not break down on the way to school registration, and risk prolonging the nightmare of distance learning any longer than necessary. Hamilton has been looking forward to this day since early last year, and while she says she was more than happy to do her part in slowing the spread of the novel virus, her crayon-stained walls tell another story. In the last few weeks, she’s found herself daydreaming of the fateful moment, replaying it over and over in a bid to head-off any unforeseen hurdles.
“I’ve already planned out the route to the school, but I haven’t decided if I’m going to come to a full stop yet. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, but I just need a little ‘me time’,” says Hamilton. “Over the summer, we started playing a new game with the kids called ‘tuck and roll’ to prepare for this very scenario.”
Under his car in his driveway and changing his oil for the second time this week, Tom Jollet echoes Hamilton’s sentiments. “I love my kids, but they’re just so…sticky. I don’t know where they get that from; it must be their mom because stickiness doesn’t run in my side of the family,” says Jollet, father of two.
At first, Jollet loved having the kids home, taking the opportunity to take an active role in their education, taking breaks for snacks and an ad hoc “recess” period. Then came the second week.
“Being a parent is a precious gift, the experience of a lifetime, and the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do…but have you ever spent a full day with your own kids? It’s exhausting. I pay an arm and a leg in taxes to ensure that my children are someone else’s problem for 8 hours a day,” Jollet says.
Having mapped out the most efficient route to his son’s middle school, Jollet has been quietly setting aside spare change to cover any speeding tickets he might incur on the day. While most insurance companies still don’t recognize “parental fatigue” as a coverable claim, Jollet has been pressuring his own insurance agent to stretch the terms of his policy to fit the new normal.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but I really love my new Arctic White carpets, and those two things just can‘t peacefully coexist,” says Jollet.