First World Problem: How to Spread Two Cars Between Three Teenagers

Every once in a while, as an expat blogger – especially an expat WIFE blogger, also known for sipping mojitos by the pool all day while the domestic help works her magic around the house – I’ll get a comment from an outraged reader. He – it’s almost always a “he” – will accuse me of being privileged, of whining about my “hard” life of having to deal with pool maintenance guys and temporary power outages in my luxurious mansion, and often he’ll follow this up with the admonition to “shut up” and take my First World Problems elsewhere if I don’t like the life I lead in my guest country. Any attempt to reply with some kind of explanation about the nature of my blog – it’s like having to explain the punchline of a joke – usually falls on deaf ears, because said accuser will have already moved on to another blog to wag his self-righteous finger at.

This blog post will be right up his alley.

Because what screams privilege louder than indulging your three teenagers with not one but TWO entire cars at their disposal?

But if you live in America, that is exactly the kind of situation your typical suburban mother will wring her hands over. In her defense, she’s kicked those three teenagers in their collective butt to go and be responsible and find jobs, and now they need to have transport to and fro. And of course the mother can’t provide it, because she’s got other sh!t to do. Like sipping mojitos by the pool. Also, she’s done a fairly good job raising kids that don’t feel completely entitled. If they were, obviously there’d be THREE cars, not two.

This is the situation a good friend of mine found herself in. I’ve always admired her for her organizational parenting skills – she has taken “color-coded” to a whole new level – and so I was curious as to how she had solved the car conundrum once her three teenagers were of driving age.

Her plan is absolutely brilliant:

  1. There are two cars, both old, but one slightly nicer than the other
  2. The nicer one is the “master” car, the other one the “slave” car (if you are the blog commenter mentioned above, you have permission to now be rightly be indignant about my use of the word “slave.”)
  3. The cars alternate between the three kids on a weekly basis
  4. Whoever has the master car may do with it as he/she pleases
  5. Whoever has the slave car gets to drive it but is also responsible for providing rides to that week’s car-less sibling
  6. Every driver is responsible for paying for their gas
  7. The car’s inside has to be cleaned up before hand-over to the next person

The reason this works so well is that people, like elephants, have a long memory. If you so wish as to totally abuse the poor slave driver, he/she is sure to remember and pay you back handsomely when the positions are reversed the following week. I’ve tried to poke mental holes into this but couldn’t come up with any. It sounds like a sound plan. Lucky for me, I haven’t had to try it out, as in our family there is “only” one car to share between two teenage drivers, making the math somewhat easier. I do recall some big eyes the first day son #1 realized that he’d have to share the car with his younger brother. What do you mean, SHARE the car? OMG Mom, I can’t be asked to TALK about this with him every morning! Like, I’ll have to take him there AND pick him up again? No way, I can’t do THAT!

Needless to say, a way was found. There is nothing like the prospect of walking – or, for that matter, being late to something your mother doesn’t care about – to provide an incentive to make a plan.

What are your first world parenting problems? Do share!

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