During the junior high and high school years, my son was on both the cross country and track teams as well as in band. All 6 years. Each of these things had Saturday events – meets, invitationals, parades, competitions – and a lot of early mornings.

G would tell me, remind me that there was a meet or a band thing for an upcoming Saturday. Our exchange would go something like this:

G: Mom, I have a meet in [faraway city] on Saturday.
Me: Okay, what time does it start?
G: My race is at 9:30.
Me: What time do you need to be at school?
G: Bus leaves at 5.
Me: In the morning?
G: Yes, in the morning. Do you think I’m running on a cross country course at 9:30 at night? (insert teenage eye roll here)

I don’t know how or why it became a standard question, but G would tell me he needed to be somewhere for a weekend event and my immediate, automatic response was always “in the morning?” Sometimes it would be the afternoon – band competitions sometimes started late afternoon and ran into the evening, so they would not leave until later – but 99% of the time he needed to be somewhere at 4 or 5 a.m. to board a bus to the faraway city. I always wanted to know approximately what time he was racing or the band performing, because I would drive the 2 or 3 hours to faraway city to watch him start race or the band perform. Then I would drive home await the phone call hours later that the bus had returned and he (and usually several of his friends and teammates) were ready to be picked up.

Good times.

I never complained about the early hours of driving him to school or the late nights picking him up. In the entire 6 years of school, I always drove/picked him up, occasionally picking up a friend or two on the way, but quite normally dropping 2 or 3 of his friends off in the evenings. Those hours and times in the car going somewhere for something are some of the best conversations and best memories with my kids. They both still joke about my naive, automatic “in the morning?” question. After a couple of years of the same routines every season, I would know better.

G was a late bloomer with the driving, not getting his permit until a week before his 18th birthday and then his license 3 weeks later. Having his license and a car available meant he could drive himself to school and to meet the bus for a track invitational or band competition. It simplified my life and my schedule, yet I was surprised how much I missed our few minutes in the car driving to and fro.

I still get the eye roll, when he tells me that he and K are doing a fun run. What time does it start, I will ask, because M and I will frequently go to watch them race and meet at the finish line, and his casual response (usually 7 or 8) will inevitably lead to my “in the morning?” question. I think he does it deliberately, knowing I will respond with my standard response, even knowing that 5K and 10K runs and half marathons are not typically held in the evening. It has become a hallmark of our communication, our bond as a family. And I hope it never, ever changes.

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