“You know what I miss since you graduated from college? I miss talking with you on the trips back and forth five days a week. Now I only have you in the car alone when we go to choir practice.” I said this to Patty on the way to choir practice last Wednesday. She agreed with me. Ralph had this same sentiment, which he expressed to Will, after Will graduated.
The Kilter College Taxi Service started in the fall of 2005, when I began taking Mary to the local community college to study accounting. I admit I took Mary to college in part because I wanted her to have something to do after graduating from high school. One of her high school teachers had said that it would be a waste of money for her to go to college. Before she started college, a neuropsychologist predicted she would not go much beyond her first year, if she went that far. Nevertheless, I kept taking her, thinking that at least it would keep her from being totally bored. I usually dropped her off at school, and Ralph usually picked her up. She went to school three to four days a week.
Two years later, in the fall of 2007, Will began attending a local Christian college. His college had a five day a week schedule.
Two years after that, Patty started college. During that year, we were driving three kids to three different colleges. During one stretch that year, I was dropping one or more of them off at 7:45 a.m. at one school, and picking another up at 9:30 p.m. Mary had night classes four days that semester. Honestly, I look back and don’t know how we did it…just by the grace of God.
1) 5 cars have been involved in the taxi service: 1998 Ford Taurus, 2000 Mercury Sable, 2002 Chrysler Town & Country, 2004 Cadillac De Ville, and a 2013 Chrysler 200 (pictured below). The only car that left us hanging was the Chrysler Town & Country. The week before Patty’s final exams in 2013, it died. We ended up having to rent car to get us through the week.
2) We didn’t leave anyone stranded (for long), nor did we lose anyone in those nine years. Although there were a few times when I would walk in the door home from work, and Ralph would say, “Where’s Mary?” or “Did you forget someone?” Oops. And I would have to turn around and get them, or he would say, “You sit down. I’ll go get them.” Or vice versa.
3) On school days, we used at least 70% more gas than we would have, had we not been driving our kids to college. Some days, especially during the first winter of driving my son to college, I wondered if it would have been less expensive to have him live on campus. But when I did the math, and even when gas was $4.19 a gallon, we still saved more than half of what we would have spent having him live on campus.
4) On school days, I spent an average of an extra 90 minutes per day driving kids to or from college. Every trip was an opportunity to joke around, talk, have deep discussions about their classes or other issues of the day. It was an extra opportunity to influence our kids, to teach, to know them as young adults. It was a chance to continue honing social skills. Our conversations weren’t always interesting. Sometimes, I let them know in the process of going on and on about computer programming (Will), tax fraud (Mary), or managerial economics (Patty), they had lost me. They told me they felt the same way when I started talking about Medicare Set-Asides (in workers’ compensation).
We started driving our kids to college because Mary and Will could not drive due to their autism. In our family, autism has affected hand/eye coordination and motor skills. As a result, many skills of a physical nature have come more slowly, if at all. According to the Drivers Rehabilitation Program in our town, Mary is not allowed to learn to drive. She has made two attempts a couple of years apart with them, and the Secretary of State has been prohibited from issuing her a learning permit. Will learned to drive with the Drivers Rehabilitation Program during his junior year of college. He received his driver’s license when he was 22. That was a happy day. Patty, although capable, still does not have a license, but this will change soon. Like many millennials, she is fearful of driving. I guess I have let it go because we still only have two cars, and the insurance costs will go up. And maybe it was easier than fighting her on it. Still, getting the license and driving will be the next step in her independence.
I mentioned in an earlier post that the Kilter College Taxi Service had ceased operation because our third child, Patty, had received her bachelor’s degree. We were done, I said. That is not entirely true. She has a few more classes to take at the Community College (French), and some tasks to complete (getting her drivers’ license). But I expect Patty to share in the driving chores until she goes off to grad school. Still, I feel at loose ends. Although I have had summers off from driving to college daily, I am now facing a fall where I don’t have to take anyone to college every day. My friends at work asked me what I was going to do with all my extra time. I have toyed with the idea of finding another student to take to college. It’s probably time to move on. I am just going through a little adjustment anxiety.