Now that Chooch is back to school IRL, F2F, old school, however you want to say it, he’s been having to commute like a real life office worker. It’s the dumbest thing – his school is part of the Pittsburgh public school system but because of school bus driver shortages (this predates the pandemic BTW because we were already having to prepare for this for when he started high school in 2020), students at his school are required to take PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Chooch has mastered some pretty major subway systems in his short 15 years, so that wasn’t the concern for me, it was mostly the fact that getting to school requires one transfer no matter what, and he’s have to leave the house before 6AM to ensure he wasn’t late, which is ludicrous for a high school kid. Plus, I worried that he’d fall asleep and miss his stop/transfer/whatever.
Getting home is a piece of cake because he can basically get on any bus outside of his school that is going downtown, and he has numerous places where he can get off downtown and take the T home (way more convenient than buses). And he can take his time too, and oh, believe me, he has been. He and his new gang of friends have been cavorting around Oakland, trying to blend in with all the Pitt students, going to cafes, going to the main branch of the Carnegie library, eating at food trucks. He’s living the teenage dream, you guys, truly.
It’s only a 15 minute drive to Oakland from our house, so I’ve mom’d up (after years and years and years of him only having to walk two blocks to his old school, this is so hard for meeeeeee and me and me and me and only meeeeeee) and have been driving him to school every morning. It really isn’t that bad because I am a total morning person anyway and actually enjoy having a reason to get up an hour earlier. However, Chooch is NOT a morning person so nearly every car ride is peppered with vitriol and teenage angst (from both parties). He mostly just sits there texting his friends whom he will see in a short 20 minutes while responding to all my conversation starters with grunts and snotty quips.
Basically, he so very effortlessly makes me feel like the biggest loser while slumped in his seat like a sack of 15-year-old hormones spritzed with Axe Body Spray and superiority syndrome – it’s great!
Usually, I have Spotify playing BUT one day two weeks ago, I stupidly started driving with the radio on. Henry was the last one in the car and had left it on 100.7 which is just super annoying Top 40 but somehow more geared to soccer moms. I absolutely hate every song that comes on. That one song about date night at Applebee’s?!!? The first time I heard it, I was screaming and called Henry after Chooch got out of the car so I could bitch about it.
“Oh, I knew exactly what song it was going to be before you even told me,” he laughed.
That song is a disgrace to the act of hearing, like a total FUCK YOU to the collective cochlea worldwide.
And then there is some god-awful duet with Miley Cyrus and some dude? OMG kill me. That song is an abomination! You know I hate Miley Cyrus to begin with, but this song makes me want to donkey kick her in the throat. Both of these people sound like they have a skin of phlegm that desperately needs trucker-belched into the nearest spittoon.
All it took was one commute with this station on the dial to get Chooch’s attention though, because they play this stupid trivia game every morning called Escalation. And by “they” I mean the MOST ANNOYING LOCAL DJ THAT HAS BEEN POISONING PITTSBURGH AIRWAVES SINCE EVEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, BUBBA, and his basic bitch cohort Melanie. These people, oh brother. They pass Pittsburghese back and forth between themselves with wanton abandon like it’s some type of Yinzer Covid and they’re anti-maskers. I fucking can’t stand the Pittsburgh accent and I especially hate it when it feels like people are going out of their way to use it or exaggerate it. Like when people ironically say “yinz,” I want to fucking set a pile of Steeler jerseys alight.
Look, I have hometown pride, but my hometown embarrassment sometimes overshadows that. And Bubba is a fucking embarrassment fo’ sho’
OK so back to Escalation. Chooch LOVES games and the only thing he probably loves more than games is being right. So trivia is like a goddamn drug for him. This game is so dumb. You can win up to $100 but the questions start out at like, $5, $10, etc. And you have the option of taking the money or going-or-nothing. The worst part is the amount of times Bubba says “dollars” during this part of his pathetic radio show. I wish he would just start saying “bucks” instead so I wouldn’t have to hear him practically swallowing his tongue while chocking on his forced ‘burgh dialect.
Chooch INSISTS that we keep this station on every fucking morning now so he can make fun of the people who get the answers wrong and lose all their money. Last week was “Special” because in addition to having the chance at winning $100, each morning’s Escalation player AUTOMATICALLY received Dan & Shay tickets. I do not who these “Dan & Shay” people are but I am willing to wager ALL OF THE ESCALATION WINNINGS that I will hate their music if I heard it.
I am actually in such a bad mood by the time I punt him out of my car every morning that my body shakes. THE WORST PART is that before Bubba (ugh) asks the final question, they cut to a song and it is always something that manages to enhance the tension in my jaw previously caused by Bubba’s grating bray.
But then it got worse. Because after a few days of this, Chooch decided that he was going to try and get on the air for Escalation. I tried to tell him that I thought this was a terrible idea but yesterday morning, he took the leap and called in. His bluetooth kicked the call onto the car’s stereo, so the car was filled with the pulse-pumping notes of a busy signal. He started screaming at me for “talking over them” when they were saying the phone number so it was probably wrong, and I was like, “OK first of all, STFU I can talk whenever I want in MY CAR. And second of all, the fact that you got a busy signal means it’s probably the right number.”
So he just sat there, letting the busy signal continue to plow through the small space between us.
“Um, hang up,” I said.
“No, they might answer,” he shot back in his FUCKING TEENAGE TONE. UGH.
“That’s….not how that works,” I said slowly, trying to choose my words carefully as we were teetering on the precipice of the Early Morning Quarrel Quarry. “You have to hang up and call back. They can’t just ‘answer’ when you already have a busy signal.”
So then he got all huffy, ended the call and slammed his phone down into his lap.
A few moments later, I tentatively asked, “Aren’t you going to call back?”
“YOU NEVER TOLD ME TO! YOU SAID IT WAS THE WRONG NUMBER!”
“NO, I FUCKING SAID IT WAS A BUSY SIGNAL AND YOU HAVE TO HANG UP AND CALL BACK!” I shouted right back at him, because oh OK, we’re doing this.
“THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU SAID!” he screamed. “I SAID I WAS WAITING TO SEE IF THEY WOULD PICK UP AND YOU SAID IT WAS THE WRONG NUMBER!”
“I SAID IT WAS A BUSY SIGNAL!!! IF YOU GET A BUSY SIGNAL, YOU HAVE TO HANG THE FUCK UP AND TRY AGAIN!!” My heart was now pounding. This kid can never be wrong and it is infuriating. Then I said, because I’m a tremendous parent and probably echoed a sentiment that TRUMP has spat out more than once to his children over the years, great Erin, just great, “You know, for someone so fucking smart, you’re a real a moron sometimes. You don’t even have basic life skills!”
“Oh, this,” he motioned furiously between his phone and the radio, “is a life skill???”
“KNOWING HOW TO MAKE A FUCKING PHONE CALL? YES!!!!!” I screamed.
We drove in silence after that. The dumb bitch who made it onto Escalation lost because she’s a fucking stoop, too. By the end of Escalation, we had reached his school. He got out wordlessly and I seethed the whole way home.
Later that day, after he had been home from school for a few hours, he came downstairs and sat down on the wheelchair next to me. (Lol, that sounds so normal to me.)
“Traffic was really bad on the way home and I’m in a bad mood,” he growled, loosening his imaginary neck tie. “Also, I’m still mad about this morning.” And then we were maniacally arguing with each other again but this time we were laughing too and Henry was like YOU ARE BOTH THE SAME OMG KILL ME.
P.S. The broad who called in for Escalation today won but she TOTALLY WAS GOOGLING THE ANSWERS IT WAS SO FUCKING OBVI.
Oh dear. Teenagers can be such asses. Who hasn’t wanted to punt one out of her car at least once before they finally leave home?! You’re doing him a huge kindness by driving him in the mornings. Make sure he knows the consequence of being rude to you could mean … the bus. The dastardly bus!
-Kate, The HardAss Parenting Handbook
PS doesn’t that radio station have an app he could listen to on the phone with his earbuds? because if you keep hearing that show, you’ll get hooked. Ha!!
KATE. I didn’t even think of making him download the app. You’re brilliant!
I’ll wait to hear how you enjoy hearing only HIS responses … hmmm, not sure that will be perfect either … lol