I intended on posting this at the end of the school year, which came very unexpectedly early. This was the backbone of our mornings these last four years and I couldn’t let my girl’s high school career end without one last word on the High School Parking Lot Slow Roll Facebook posts that have been a regular occurrence for the duration.
I’m pretty sure it started with Freebird.
I’ve long been That Mom rolling through the carpool line at school with the music just a little too loud. I’m the sort of person who thinks that life is indeed a musical, that there is a proper soundtrack for everything, that people walking down the street are liable to break into a dance at any moment, that music should always be on in the background and yes, it’s probably a little too loud for some people’s taste.
For the better part of my girl’s high school career, she had early morning activities at school and no bus transportation, which meant I took her to school. Between the shortness of the ride – about a mile, which in heavy traffic would take 5 minutes – and the state of mornings in our house (we’re not morning people), it was just easier to switch on the radio and take our chances with what we could find to give us a soundtrack in the morning. Some mornings it would be a good anthem to start our day, other mornings it would be lesson in pop music history and then there would be the mornings where the sound coming out of the car speakers was just so perfectly suited to driving slowly through the high school parking lot in the morning that it inspired a soundtrack.
The high school parking lot is a hot bed of activity in the mornings. During the fall, the marching band is out there practicing in the far corner by the back entrance every morning before first bell. Early morning PE kids are out for a run. There are kids are getting dropped for their early morning tutoring sessions, choir and other activities, teachers and administrators are arriving for the day, the driver’s ed program is taking kids out for their mandatory driving sessions. Between all the comings and goings and the speed humps along the main drags, the slow roll is the only way to drive through the expanse. And with the right song coming out of your speakers, you can feel like you’re in the opening scene of “Dazed and Confused”.
I’m pretty sure the first song I posted about driving through the parking lot to was “Freebird”, but it certainly wasn’t the last. In this age of social media, oversharing and parenting brag, there were definitely days where our morning soundtrack was the only thing I could safely share online regarding my kid. Parenting teenagers is hard, isolating work. There’s a certain loneliness that is part of the territory no one warns you about. Truth is, some mornings, she’d be ready to jump out of the car as soon as it got close to school, horrified that ‘people can hear your music you know’. But then there were the mornings where she might pause in the car just a little bit longer to hear the end of the song or to talk about a song. We covered a lot of ground on her pop music education in our short drives to school over the years. I’m forever grateful to a local oldies station that allowed me to introduce her to Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly on our morning rides. We talked about 80’s hair bands, she admitted she thought The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” was Talking Heads circa “Stop Making Sense” for the longest time until she actually watched the movie, which she actually only watched when one of her viewings of “The Last Waltz” rolled right over into it. One foggy morning after seeing her in an episode of “American Horror Story“, we heard the most hauntingly lovely live version of “Sara” and in that moment, I could see my girl grasp the magic of Stevie Nicks. Music is a powerful thing.
Over the years, my High School Parking Lot Slow Roll Soundtrack Facebook posts have generated a lot of comments from people. One thing I would like to clear up about them though – they were never intended to embarrass my child. I mean, sure, I’m rolling up to school with the music too loud, windows down no matter the weather with the dog’s head out the rear window living her best life, one hand on the steering wheel, the other holding a cup of coffee with readers on my head while still clearly wearing my pj’s, but let’s face it, just one’s very existence as a person is a source of embarrassment for the average teenage offspring, so one might as well unapologetically embrace being who you are. My high school parking lot posts were about sharing my love of music and one of the few conversation topics with my kid that I could publicly share on social media. After all, if we don’t talk about 80’s hair bands with our children, who will?
Not all the mornings in the car with Edie were memorable. Some mornings there would be nothing on the radio and neither one of us would be in a good mood. And some mornings, I really wished she could find a way to school that didn’t involve my driving her. But at the same time, I recognized that those 5 minutes in the morning were something to treasure, even on a bad day. I’ll miss them, but I’m so very grateful we had them.