An Uber for Kids: Genius or the End of Childhood Freedom?

The new-ish service, Hop Skip Drive, is basically Uber for kids. If parents are busy and they need their kids to get delivered somewhere — school, dance class, karate — some background-checked caregiver (all the drivers pictured are female) picks them up and deposits them. And naturally the parent can follow the entire ride with an app on their phone. Because…just because. Because our culture believes that if kids are not constantly supervised by their parents, either in person or electronically, they are in danger, the parents are negligent, and disaster looms.

And also because apps just do this.

So is this service a godsend or the end of childhood as we knew it?

On the one hand, the kids are being monitored like a NASA  mission to Mars. On the other hand, when we expect parents — moms, in particular — to schlep their kids to multiple places for years on end, that’s a recipe for making sure the parents have no time or energy to do anything else.

And on the OTHER other hand (is that possible?),  imagine if instead of all these extracurricular activities, kids just had some down time to play in their neighborhoods, and other kids did the same, fostering fun, community, creativity, freedom, fitness, responsibility and even joy. For free.

How do we dial back from a culture that believes kids aren’t learning unless they are in some sort of class or supervised activity?

Well, I was speaking at the LePort Montessori schools in Virgina a few weeks ago, and their Vice President of Outreach, Heike Larson, proposed a great idea: Free-Range Fridays. That is, on Fridays (or any day — it doesn’t have to be alliterative), the school tells parents to not schedule anything after school for their kids. Then, just one mom or dad takes a whole bunch of them to a nearby park, where they can play till suppertime.

I guess eventually, if the kids live far from school, they will still have to be picked up. But this way they at least get an afternoon to do the most socially/emotionally educational thing around — simply play with a bunch of other kids.

Any other ideas to cut down on the after-school schlepping and paying routine are most welcome! – L.

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Whatever happened to hop, skip, JUMP?

 

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108 Responses to An Uber for Kids: Genius or the End of Childhood Freedom?

  1. Dienne March 13, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    So now when you fill out that list of who’s allowed to pick up Little Johnny, you have to add “any random Hop Skip Drive driver who shows up”.

  2. Mary March 13, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

    I’ve been wanting to take a group of middle school boys to the park within walking distance of school after school. I haven’t done it because I know some parents will ask me too many hovering questions (what will they play? how close will you be? how will you make sure they are all together?) and because I wonder about needing some sort of signed consent. I’m just programed to have a form that says someone won’t sue me that I am paralyzed to do the obvious. Really sad state of our world (and me in it too).

  3. Stephanie March 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm #

    A friend of mine uses a service like this. She has three kids and one afternoon a week, she cannot get her kids where they need to be (locations are not walkable/public transportation accessible and it’s really not convenient to ask a friend to help.) Her kids are not particularly over scheduled. I think it’s a great service that an enterprising company has devised for people who need it. Why get all judgey about it?

  4. Workshop March 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm #

    My take is that if you don’t have time to shuttle your kids to their stuff, you have them in too much stuff.

    We live in the country (as in, the-neighbors-have-a-tractor-with-cows-in-the-country). To go to the park requires a car ride (there’s a busy, hilly road with no sidewalks or bike lane – I wouldn’t ride it, much less ask my kids to).

    I don’t mind taking them to the park. They play, I read. I would play, but they just don’t make the big pirate ship in my size.

    The service is offered because there is a demand for it. Parents don’t stop and think “do I really need this.” Our society offers whatever we want, and the digital age means we get what we want NOW. To take a more benign look, consider Amazon Prime. Do you really need “free” two day shipping? No. You managed just fine all those years before without it. Twenty-five years ago you had to mail in your order first. Now, people complain if they don’t get “free” shipping. Does anyone stop and think “do I really need this?”

    Netflix, same thing. We want to watch a movie, let’s get it now. Planning ahead is so 20th century.

    Various dinner-providing sites (like Blue Apron) – No need to learn how to cook, just trust us to provide you with the ingredients to a fabulous meal, delivered right to your door.

    Heck, I can buy a box of stuff to mix with a pound of ground beef and have “dinner.” Of course, we get weird problems pop up like the poor weighing too much, but, gosh darn it, doing stuff is soooooo hard. Way better for someone else to do it for me. (As an aside, what sort of country has the largest health problem of it’s poor people being “eating too much”? That alone should warn of messed up priorities.)

    But don’t listen to me. I still bemoan the fact that manual transmissions are going the way of Justin Beiber’s career.

  5. JJ March 13, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

    I for one think it’s a godsend and sure wish I had the option about 8 years ago for those desperate times. And it’s not the being able to monitor their whereabouts I’d love, it would be the fact that I could get my child to or from someplace, including school, when I was out of options. And no my kids couldn’t walk the six miles home from school through North Philadelphia! (A burly adult wouldn’t even walk that route.)

  6. Neil M March 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm #

    I’d like to highlight what Dienne said, and to add that I can just see schools refusing to release children to HopSkipDrive after someone, somewhere, complains about something. And it seems consistent; after all, if schools won’t allow a parent to walk past the care pick-up line to get his own kind, why on earth would they permit a total stranger to give a child a ride?

  7. Paul Hess March 13, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    They coined a new term “CareDrivers”.

    In our new hover-parent world, even a driver has to be a CareGiver primarily and a Driver only secondarily!

    When I drive am I a “DontCareDriver”????

  8. Dean March 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    That phine app sounds like an extension of helicoptering.

  9. JJ March 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    Workshop, that’s kind of mean and smacks of the “if you weren’t willing to sacrifice everything for your kids then you shouldn’t have had kids”. I don’t think you meant it that way but in a house where parents work and/or take care of older relatives it’s not always going to be because their kids are overscheduled that they can’t get their kids somewhere.

  10. K March 13, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    I think it’s ridiculous, but not the end of the world.

    I wonder how the CareDrivers would react if instructed to drop a kid off unsupervised at a playground?

  11. BL March 13, 2017 at 12:51 pm #

    Eventually the cure for helicopter parenting will be to provide every child with a personal helicopter.

  12. Susan March 13, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    I love Uber! I am a full time working Mom & my son started using Uber around age 12. He is now 16 & will be using it today. The kids are off school because of parent teacher conferences & he still needs to be at school for 3PM track & field practice. He Ubers there & I will pick him up at 5PM.

    Uber is a life saver for working parents. A few parents at my son’s high school tried to use Hop Skip and a Jump…all the kids made fun of the kids using it. Maybe it’s better if the kids are in grade school.

  13. Dienne March 13, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    For the record, unless overused, I think this is a great service. When I was in fifth grade I joined a cross-town intramural basketball “team” (we didn’t play competitive games against other schools, just developed skills to get ready for the junior high team). Since it was cross-town, it didn’t meet at my school. So for about two months that winter my mother picked me up every day after school (except Fridays) to take me. Being a SAHM, she could do that. Then after the two months, I picked up my usual, not over-scheduled life. My daughters couldn’t sign up for anything like that (or the once a week art class or whatever) because I work. But this service could help make something like that happen sometimes for them. Maybe I’ll look into it.

  14. Dave March 13, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    So, what does “schlep” mean? Couldn’t find that in my English, French, Spanish, Dutch or Danish dictionaries. Lenore, writers should stick to English or at at least words that are broadly known to US English speakers.

  15. Kenny Felder March 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

    This will get much more interesting as self-driving cars become common. Imagine a world in which every child can get wherever he wants to go, on his own.

  16. BL March 13, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    ‘So, what does “schlep” mean? Couldn’t find that in my English, French, Spanish, Dutch or Danish dictionaries. Lenore, writers should stick to English or at at least words that are broadly known to US English speakers.’

    It’s Yiddish.

    It means “carry”.

  17. Roger the Shrubber March 13, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    My outrage meter is pegged at zero. I think Lenore may be off the mark on this one.

  18. John B. March 13, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    “some background-checked caregiver (all the drivers pictured are female) picks them up and deposits them.”

    I did notice that they give contact information on their site. So has anyone here asked them why a male is not included within their list of drivers? I’d be curious to see how they respond.

  19. Roger the Shrubber March 13, 2017 at 1:12 pm #

    Dave – did you actually go to your bookcase and look in 5 different dictionaries? Let me google that for you: http://letmegooglethat.com/?q=schlep

  20. Aimless March 13, 2017 at 1:18 pm #

    We have to remember that every parent’s situation is different – what may seem ridiculous to some would be a godsend to others. I would absolutely love it if my son’s elementary school was within walking distance of our house or a nice playground where he could hang out after school. It would be great if my work schedule was so flexible that I could drive him to activities after school. Since neither of those are true, his only option is to go the the YMCA after-school care on campus, a very heavily supervised program that is decidedly NOT free-range.

    Personally, I would use the hell out of a service like this, which would open up our options and allow my son to use his time after school in the way he wishes, rather than being limited by geography and work schedules. Plus, it would be a great way to get my older kids to, say, an orthodontist checkup, so I don’t have to take 2 hours out of work for a 10 minute brace-tightening session.

    I guess I understand the objection (although, paranoid as it may be, if I am sending my son with a stranger in a car, I appreciate the extra level of oversight and security) but this seems like a tool that parents could use to be MORE free-range, not less so.

  21. Kirsten March 13, 2017 at 1:27 pm #

    “the school tells parents to not schedule anything after school for their kids. Then, just one mom or dad takes a whole bunch of them to a nearby park, where they can play till suppertime.”

    It’s as if all knowledge of what childhood is like had been lost hundreds of years in the past and some future humans discovered an ancient tablet buried in the ground that described this concept called “free play” and they said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to recreate something people did hundreds of years ago?” And they read the instructions carefully – don’t schedule anything after school – check. Take them to the park – check. Let them just play – check. Hmm, it’s so wacky it might actually work!

  22. James Pollock March 13, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

    “My take is that if you don’t have time to shuttle your kids to their stuff, you have them in too much stuff.”

    Or too many kids?
    I mean, if you have three kids, and each of them has ONE activity that requires them to be in vastly different places at the same time… one parent can take one, the other parent can take another, and… oops! one activity each is “too much stuff”!

  23. Backroads March 13, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

    Is the location of said activity unreasonable for my child to get to on her own?

    Do I have a network of trusted friends/family/community members who can help out with helping said child reach said activity?

    Do I have the time, if not to take kid on my own, to gawk at the ride on my phone?

    Is it reasonable to schedule any activities at times where I can reasonably get kid there?

    If the answer to all these questions is “no” then, sure, I guess I would use this app.

    But wow, what is wrong with my life at this point?

  24. Eric S March 13, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    So why can’t parents take the “chance” in letting their children fend for themselves (just a matter of teaching them at a young age how to), as they do with a complete stranger driving them around? After all, even if they can monitor the drive, they can’t prevent anything from happening to their children.

    Again, this just confirms my assumptions of parents are reactionary based on their level of inconvenience for themselves. If they are inconvenienced, they will take the same risks they normally wouldn’t take if they weren’t. lol. Can’t pick and choose what and when just because it’s serves the parents better. Either your afraid of it, or you’re not. Don’t let your children suffer for your own insecurities.

  25. Dee March 13, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

    I actually kind of wish we had this! My son takes Kung Fu. He’d missed a lot of classes due to exams and other class project stuff, and we were all eager for him to get back to it. Unfortunately, the next available date, both my husband and I were tied up away from home (because yes, we have lives that don’t entirely revolve around our son). We considered getting an Uber for him to go, but ultimately decided to skip yet another class mainly b/c his phone doesn’t have data and ordering the Uber would’ve been complicated (texting me to tell me when and I’d have to order for that address…just too much complication).

  26. Jen D March 13, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    My son does 1 activity at a time, unless 2 seasons overlap. The practices start before I get out of work, so unless I hire someone to take him, he can’t participate. I can only imagine when my second gets older and he has an activity in addition to my older one… their dad works late so that is not an option. Not being able to get your children to a practice or similar does not necessarily mean they are “over scheduled”.
    I hope this service comes to my area (Fairfield County, CT).

  27. Liz March 13, 2017 at 2:29 pm #

    I am sure they do not have this available in my small town (but believe me, I am going to check!) My kids are not over scheduled, oldest has Navigators (a scouts type program) and the middle one has gymnastics. But I work and my husband travels out of town often for his job and having an extra person to help when the two-year-old needs to eat NOW but the 7 year old has Navigators would be awesome. I hate over scheduling, but I do have to be at my job and work a full day, I live 25 minutes from work and often spend an hour just getting from work to pick up all three kids to whatever they have scheduled, then we all wait, and then more shuttling. Our evenings are very brief. But yes, how do you give permission for pickup from school….?

  28. SKL March 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

    Not surprisingly, everyone has a (judgmental) opinion on this one.

    Last year I looked into Uber (the regular Uber) to drive my kids between morning & afternoon camps for a few weeks in the summer. Uber worked out too expensive, so I arranged for one of my company’s part-time employees to do that on her way home from work. A prior year, I asked around and received a referral from a theater camp teacher, for a college student I had never met. I hired her over the phone (no background checks etc). To this day I have never met her. She delivered my 7yos reliably, which is all that mattered.

    As a working single mom, even if my kids “could” run around our house / yard / neighborhood all summer, that is not necessarily the most ideal thing. My neighborhood has nothing for kids to do with other kids during the daytime. Knowing my kids, they would plop themselves in front of the boob toob most of the time, and fight loudly the rest of the time, and eat crap and trash the house. It isn’t like when I was a kid and I spent the entire summer outdoors, at the playground, pool, library, zoo, etc. while my parents worked. Nowadays kids aren’t allowed to go to those places alone until they are much older.

    So, from the time my kids graduated from their preschool/KG (which had a summer “camp” program), I looked around for summer camp options. There are some great options out there. Many of them are “full-time” i.e. the parent can drop them off before work and pick them up after. But some very good ones are half-day or odd hours. For example, the great theater camp my kids attended was a half-day, 2-week camp. There are also some great options at the libraries for free.

    The summer after 1st (when my kids were 6), I did all the driving myself. Although I have a relatively flexible job, it was very stressful to have to be in various places during the work day. I got some grief from my boss. So now I hire them a ride if they are going to need it more than occasionally.

    I don’t see this as limiting my kids – they would have had to be driven or stay close to home without outside interaction. I am not so sure that school-aged kids are best off without outside interaction most of the summer. I am going to guess most parents would not pay the expense of Uber for kids who could get themselves from point A to point B without a car.

  29. Dafna March 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    This is a great service for working parents. My 9 year old is old enough and responsible enough to get himself to and from school. OTOH, our little league recently merged with another league so sometimes practices are about three miles away, across busy intersections. No way he could get there on his own. If we had this service, he could get home from school, eat his snack, change his clothes and head out to baseball. I have 4 kids and both my husband and I work full time. The kids aren’t over scheduled but we just can’t be in more than one place at a time.

  30. M March 13, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    Had a co-worker whose son was a burly high school football player. The boss told her she could no longer take off early to drive him to games and practice. She freaked out.

    I asked her why couldn’t he ride with his a teammate of his. Her reply “I don’t know their parents, I can’t let him ride in a car with people I don’t know!”

    He’s 17. Weighs 220. Going off to college soon. Can’t he make his own judgement calls? Nope, and I was horrible for suggesting it.

  31. Christopher Byrne March 13, 2017 at 2:59 pm #

    What concerns me about this is the potential further eroding of community and having kids in isolation. When I was a kid, if there were activities that required driving, parents shared the driving duties. I have wonderful memories of being tumbled into station wagons with a bunch of kids, and the rides to and from the activity (usually musical or theatrical in my world) were as much fun and time to interact as the activities were. The parents seemed to get a kick out of it, too. And more than once there were impromptu stops for ice cream or Slurpees.
    For activities that were nearby (which was about a mile), we could either take the city bus, ride our bikes or walk. Not available to everyone, I know, but again we never did it alone.
    The idea of delivering kids from endpoint to endpoint really does undermine the social fabric and peer-to-peer relationships that are such an important part of socialization and making friends.
    So, I suppose this service is okay. (The market will decide.) But it seems like another way for parents to set-it-and-forget -it, which is hardly a method for creating well-rounded kids. It does put more demands on the parents, but isn’t that what they became parents for? BTW, there was also the social benefit of parent-to-parent communication around the carpooling. Expediency is good, but do we stop to ask: at what cost?

  32. SKL March 13, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

    I don’t agree that it makes a difference whether it’s the parent driving or someone else. I mean, it makes a difference to the adults – less stress and maybe more work productivity. More happiness. It makes a difference to the Uber driver – jobs created, yay! But the kid is just sitting in the back seat of some car. (In my kids’ case, there would be 2 together generally.)

    Carpools are fine, and I’m going to assume that if carpooling was a viable option, it would be used as Uber is not cheap. Sometimes carpools are not a viable option. For example, my kid’s favorite activity is gymnastics. There is no gymnastics provider less than 25 minutes from my house (even farther from their school). The other kids who attend there go to other schools and live closer to the gyms. Nobody is going to drive out to my kids’ home or school to pick them up for gymnastics. Then there is TKD, which we attend whenever it fit in our schedule, not on a regular routine. Can’t arrange a carpool based on “maybe.” We do carpool certain things when it makes sense, but most of the time it doesn’t.

  33. SKL March 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm #

    And parents don’t “set-it-and-forget-it.” What does that even mean? We forget we have kids or what our kids are doing?

    Do you feel the same way about after-school on-campus activities such as sports practice or chess club? After all, I as a parent don’t have to “schlep” them to practice, and that’s very convenient for me. Or are you just judging parents who actually pay for the conveniences? The old “if you have the money you should be giving it up for your kid”?

  34. SKL March 13, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    One thing that bugs me about the commercial though – how they go on and on about the safety features. The one mom who says “I vet my babysitters way more than other parents.” Well bless your heart.

  35. Jessica March 13, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    This is so funny. My husband and I are dedicated Uber users. One morning it was freezing cold and we weren’t in the mood to drive him to school, and we were jokingly discussing whether we could just call an Uber and put him in it. (He’s in kindergarten, so I don’t think the Uber driver would be thrilled with being an unintended babysitter.). But I’m not going to lie, I could see myself using this service occasionally. We share one car, also, so it’s not at all unusual for us to have conflicting places we need to be.

  36. BL March 13, 2017 at 3:53 pm #

    @SKL
    ‘The one mom who says “I vet my babysitters way more than other parents.”’

    Like Christopher Byrne says, eroding of community. Baby-sitters used to routinely be the daughter of a neighbor, probably someone you knew very well.

  37. Workshop March 13, 2017 at 3:57 pm #

    JJ, I appreciate criticism, but you should read what I wrote, not what you think I wrote.

    Everyone’s circumstances are different, but if you can’t get your kids to all their activities, you have them in too many activities. If you live in a household where you are taking care of older relatives, that means the choices for child activities are going to be limited. That’s not mean, that’s a reasonable conclusion based on the information given.

  38. JJ March 13, 2017 at 4:01 pm #

    There it is. “It does put more demands on the parents, but isn’t that what they became parents for?” If you are not willing to be endlessly inconvenienced then you shouldn’t have had kids in the first place.

  39. steve bowes March 13, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    no male drivers because we’re all pedophiles

  40. JJ March 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

    But Workshop, sometimes we had trouble getting the kids to or from school (biz trips, early/late meetings) let alone activities. I don’t think it’s fair to think that parents will never have a conflict. Where we live everyone goes to different schools, it’s not like you have endless neighbors you can ask.

  41. Bob Cavanaugh March 13, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

    Unless the self-driving cars become popular or even available by the time I have kids, I’ll probably use this. The area I live in currently is where I’ve grown up, and there’s not really a lot to walk to. As a blind adult, I have to rely on Uber or the bus system to go where I need to myself. Even though we weren’t over-scheduled, there were days when I needed to be somewhere and my sister needed to be somewhere else. I don’t remember if my parents ever needed to be a third place at the same time, but it’s entirely possible. Even if my future wife drives, how would it work if we all needed to be different places at the same time?

  42. Donna March 13, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    I would LOVE it if they had this locally. As a single working parent, my daughter has to miss out on many actvities she wants to do simply because they require transportation during my work hours. She has wanted to run cross country and take piano lessons for years, but they are in the afternoon and I can’t get her there. Several summer programs she wants to do end at noon or 2, but she can only go to all day camps because I can’t pick her up mid-day. Heck, since I am sometimes stuck in court until later in the evening, there have been several times that her evening activities have had to be cancelled at the last minute because I am held up.

    And, in all honesty, sometimes I’d just prefer someone else do the driving here or there. I never stay and watch

  43. SKL March 13, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    Workshop, you are not qualified to decide whether another parent’s kid is in too many activities.

    There are so many reasons things could have been well-planned but derailed. Another consideration is that some kids need therapies, which can take one parent / one car as well as the kid away from the equation. That may mean the other kid doesn’t get to play a sport she’d like to play. But now there is another option. Why must new options always be cast in a negative light?

    Here’s another real-life example. Single mom went to urgent care during school hours. Mom was not able to stay through a recommended [cardiac stress] test because elementary-age kids can’t be left alone indefinitely. If mom could have texted to kid “Uber will drive you to ___ and I’ll pick you up later,” that might have been a good thing.

    Another time I was asked to rush to the hospital to notarize a friend’s will before he underwent brain surgery. I had to wait until after my kids went to bed since they were at gymnastics and needed a ride home. The option to hire someone else to drive them home so I could handle an urgent situation would have been nice.

  44. SKL March 13, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    [Clarification for the other lawyers here – I didn’t notarize a will, that wasn’t necessary, but I notarized a power of attorney and maybe a living will ….]

  45. donald March 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    I think it’s great! Kids learn how to interact with strangers.

  46. test March 13, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

    @Christopher Byrne And those who don’t have such community either don’t send kids to activities (making them more isolated) or would have to leave the job. Every community has outsiders, people who don’t quite fit in, have different interests even if they tried to force themselves to like the same thing as community likes.

    If my kids cant go somewhere by themselves, I would be cool using service like this. Being able to have own interests, the ones that does not depend on community approval is good – also for kids.

  47. Ann in L.A. March 13, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

    Depends on the age. I know pre-driving teens set free by Uber. On vacation one time, we dropped the teens off at a pizza place, they ate and took Uber back to the hotel on their own. Another family friend has a teen who plays guitar around town, actually making some money. When bus routes won’t work to get him there, he uses Uber.

    And we have a teen in a youth orchestra which rehearses 45-50 minutes away (this is Los Angeles, everything is at least 30 minutes away), but the rehearsal lasts 3.5 hours. It’s hard to drop her off, go home for a couple hours, and go pick her up again: it means over 3 hours of driving for me. I’m fine driving one way, but doing both is killing me.

  48. JulieH March 13, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

    Thanks folks! It never occurred to me to have my not-yet-old-enough-to-drive teen use Uber.

    We live 30 minutes from the Catholic high school she attends. She is participating in a school sport that has practice until 5:30. There is one other kid that is from our area on the team, but he goes to practice, has supper/does homework near the school, then goes to show choir practice most nights until 9pm – so much for the carpool idea.

    Most nights it isn’t an issue – my husband can pick her up. But now and then he has to be out of town, and I can’t shift my work commitments. That takes a lot more creativity.

  49. Roberta March 13, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

    I sometimes use uber to get my daughter home from her babysitting gig (which she gets to via a 90 minute bus trip) so that I don’t have to leave my job early to get her. I am not totally sure how I feel about putting kids on uber, just because everything around kids is so legally complicated these days. I figure it’s just a matter of time before that option is taken away from us because they put an age limit on uber. I wish we lived in a world where there were more public transportation options and where sending kids into the world wasn’t a minefield of mistrust. But under today’s rules, I think it is realistic and a great help to expand the transportation options that enable kids to have a life away from their parents.

  50. donald March 13, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

    “do I really need this?”

    Bit off the topic but I really agree with this question that Workshop pointed out. It doesn’t occur to some people to even question this. My personal take is that I like to own things. I don’t like things to own me.

  51. MichelleB March 13, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

    This doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, especially after looking at their website. I don’t think I’d send off my six-year-old (if I had one), but for older kids? It would be an option for occasions when I can’t get them where they need to go.

  52. Donna March 13, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

    “My take is that if you don’t have time to shuttle your kids to their stuff, you have them in too much stuff.”

    Privileged to have all the free time in the world and the ability to set your own schedule much?

    For those of us who work and whose children have interests that don’t coincide with our work schedule, it is not a matter of amount of stuff and completely a matter of time availability.

  53. donald March 13, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    “do I really need this?”

    Sorry, just to clarify. I don’t know if Workshop was questioning the service or the many activities that parents commit themselves to. I just meant it as a general question. I see a lot of people today become ‘owned’ by their possessions. They then set an example for their children to follow suit.

  54. Papilio March 13, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    “Various dinner-providing sites (like Blue Apron) – No need to learn how to cook, just trust us to provide you with the ingredients to a fabulous meal, delivered right to your door.”

    How do you define cooking? Because choosing a recipe and buying the ingredients yourself still gets you in this same situation.

    @Dave: “So, what does “schlep” mean? Couldn’t find that in my English, French, Spanish, Dutch or Danish dictionaries. Lenore, writers should stick to English or at at least words that are broadly known to US English speakers.”

    I’m just amazed that you see this obvious loanword ‘schlep’, that
    (1) has a consonant cluster in the onset that’s – basically – only allowed in German, and
    (2) is used by a Jewish New Yorker,
    and then proceed to check dictionaries in FIVE different languages but NOT German or Yiddish!

    Personally, I just use the Urban Dictionary when I come across a word that doesn’t seem like Oxford Dictionary material. Worked wonders when I wanted to know what a ‘cake-taking flake’ is.

    @BL: I did check a Yiddish dictionary, which gives pull, drag, tug. (Dutch has a verb ‘slepen’, which too means ‘to drag’.)

  55. Rebel mom March 13, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

    Don’t we already have underutilized public transit for these times? I used it as a kid in the Bay Area through all parts of town (seedy and nice). Mom gave me change or a couple bucks depending on where I needed to go. This über for kids is lame and doesn’t help parents – it helps well off parents. My single mom couldn’t have afforded this for me even had she wanted to. Thank god I grew up when I did. I could walk, bike and take a bus. I’m a lot more competent and confident bc of it.

  56. Amy March 13, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

    Can there be a post about how frughin expensive kids activities have gotten? This is one of the reasons parents fon’t have enough time. They have to work just to let their kids do fun stuff.

  57. Rebel mom March 13, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

    An add to my previous comment – my single mom was a nurse and worked crazy hours sometimes. It was NOT the end of the world if she was late. More than once she didn’t show up till after I went to sleep. I took myself home anyway every day so I played afterschool as long as I wanted then latch key kid let myself in at home. I did my homework, made my own dinner then read books, played with my cats, etc. It’s amazing how incompetent we are making today’s kids. And I was raised in the 70’s and 80’s, not that long ago!

  58. Donna March 13, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

    “Don’t we already have underutilized public transit for these times?”

    In major cities, maybe. In smaller cities, towns and rural areas, not so much. My city has a bus system of sorts. It could get my kid to somewhere in the vicinity of track practice in about an hour and a half (track practice is in the same town we live in, not several cities away). Of course, school gets out less than an hour and half before track practice starts so public transportation is as useful at getting her to track practice as I am at work.

  59. Emily March 13, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

    Yeah, actually, I think this is a good idea……minus the crazy background checks, and the ability to track the child’s entire journey on your phone, because those things are a bit on the helicoptery side, and the euphemism “CareDrivers” is a bit much as well. But, aside from all of that, it’s a good idea, because, as previous posters have stated, it means that kids’ activities don’t have to be limited to what they can walk/bike/take public transportation to, or what their parents can drive them to, and sometimes carpools aren’t an option, especially when the need for a ride comes up suddenly, like, say, Donna being stuck in court on the same evening her daughter has Girl Scouts or whatever. HopSkipDrive fixes all of that……and yes, I know, kids should learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them and all that, and sometimes they have to make sacrifices for other people, but I can see two holes in that line of thinking–first of all, some activities actually require all the participants to attend regularly, in order to for the activity to function as it should (for example, I play in a steel band, and we’ve had incredibly unproductive rehearsals from simply not having people to play all the parts), so all the participants have a responsibility to the team/band/cast of the play, whatever, to attend regularly, and to come prepared every time. Second, a lot of young people’s activities involve community service (such as Scouts), which is ALREADY teaching them that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

  60. Donna March 13, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

    And I am also a single parent who works sometimes crazy hours and can get home late, although never after my daughter goes to bed. My child gets herself to school and home from school. She regularly plays after school – sometimes at school and sometimes at friends’ houses – then comes home and does her homework and chores, then plays until I get home. She is extremely competent. And she STILL desperately wants to do activities that she cannot get herself to because they are too far to walk and that I cannot get her to because I am at work. I would LOVE an app like this so that I could occasionally give my extremely responsible, competent, amazing kid something that she wants but is denied because she is the child of a single working mother who has crazy hours.

  61. Emily March 13, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

    P.S., I can also see HopSkipDrive making it possible for parents to have activities and lives of their own. I’ve taught yoga classes (and other kinds of fitness classes) through the years, and I’ve had a lot of people genuinely enjoy my classes, but not be able to attend regularly because they had to drive their kids to their activities. Planning ahead wasn’t an option, because often, children’s sports leagues or similar, don’t tell you the schedule until you’ve already enrolled your child and paid, so once that’s all done, if little Jimmy’s soccer practice conflicts with his mother’s yoga class, that’s just too bad. But, again, HopSkipDrive would solve that problem, and make it possible for Jimmy to go to soccer, and his mom to go to yoga, and it’d save the poor yoga teacher from getting flak from her boss for low attendance that has nothing to do with the quality of the classes. But seriously, for all the big talk that adults spout about physical activity (and involvement in art, music, et cetera) being important, a lot of adults don’t walk their talk, or they walk their talk only until it becomes inconvenient. I know that most kids won’t come out and say this, but if Jimmy sees his mother skipping yoga to drive him to soccer, yet AGAIN (because Dad got stuck at work or whatever), then he might subconsciously internalize that message, that exercise is an “option” (rather than a priority), and take it with him to adulthood.

  62. BL March 13, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    @Emily
    ” if Jimmy sees his mother skipping yoga to drive him to soccer, yet AGAIN (because Dad got stuck at work or whatever), then he might subconsciously internalize that message, that exercise is an “option” (rather than a priority), and take it with him to adulthood.”

    So instead of yoga, do some jogging or power walking around the soccer field (or complex of fields). Or around the streets in the neighborhood, if it’s the sort of neighborhood in which one can do that. That’s an even better message – you can exercise without taking a class, outdoors.

  63. BL March 13, 2017 at 8:59 pm #

    @Papilio
    “I did check a Yiddish dictionary, which gives pull, drag, tug”

    Let’s hope that’s not what they’re doing to children who are being, uh, schlepped distances requiring Uber.

    Some sources (e.g. wiktionary) do give “carry” as a prominent definition.

  64. Michelle March 13, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

    I might use a service like this — and have used Uber — for things like letting my kids go to a concert downtown. We don’t have access to public transportation here, and I didn’t want to drive down there to pick them up. They paid for the concert tickets, so I was willing to pay someone else to drive. I also would have like something like this several years ago when I didn’t have a car and my oldest son needed to get to physical therapy. He was old enough to go without me, but didn’t have a way to get there. Instead I had to get up early and drive my husband to work so I could have the car.

    It doesn’t have to be about kids having so many things to go to that the parents can’t do it all. It can be just another method of transportation, and one that explicitly says, “It’s ok for the kids to go without you!”

  65. Amy March 13, 2017 at 9:41 pm #

    This doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But, in reality if people don’t even trust their kids to play/hang out outside with friends (i know ALOT of people) they won’t trust random uber drivers. I don’t see this working.

  66. Emily March 13, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    >>@Emily
    ” if Jimmy sees his mother skipping yoga to drive him to soccer, yet AGAIN (because Dad got stuck at work or whatever), then he might subconsciously internalize that message, that exercise is an “option” (rather than a priority), and take it with him to adulthood.”

    So instead of yoga, do some jogging or power walking around the soccer field (or complex of fields). Or around the streets in the neighborhood, if it’s the sort of neighborhood in which one can do that. That’s an even better message – you can exercise without taking a class, outdoors.<<

    Well, I live in Canada, where winter lasts for five or six months, so maybe I should have said "hockey" instead of "soccer." But, regardless, I see HopSkipDrive as really not much different from Uber, or a taxi service, or an ad-hoc carpool arrangement. I'm not a fan of all the background-checking and fingerprinting, and the app that allows parents to follow the child's route in real-time, but again, I can see this service making life a lot easier for a lot of families. Yes, there will be some parents who use it as a crutch (for example, the mother who didn't want to allow her 17-year-old son to ride in a car to and from football with people unknown to her), but there are some parents who work odd or unpredictable hours, or who have multiple kids in different schools, or doing different activities, or even if you enroll all your kids in the same activity, that doesn't guarantee that they'll all be doing it at the same time. Kids in different age groups will be on different teams, or at different skill levels, and they might have their gymnastics meets or dance competitions or whatever at different times. So, I can see HopSkipDrive getting a lot of people out of a lot of tight spots. Conversely, some people might find HopSkipDrive too expensive, overbearing, non-Free-Range, et cetera, and be inspired to set up their own carpool system instead. In that case, HopSkipDrive would have done some good, albeit indirectly, and non-lucratively.

  67. SKL March 13, 2017 at 11:48 pm #

    “Other people don’t ask themselves ‘do I need this'”

    How would you know what other people ask themselves?

    And also, doesn’t just about every American do some things they don’t “need” to do? Why is it automatically wrong when it makes things convenient for a parent, or when it’s different from what your parents did?

    I’m just so sick of the judgment (if that isn’t obvious already).

    And no, my kids are not incompetent because I’ve had them driven from point A to point B. My kids are confident dealing with strangers, they’ve had more experiences with all kinds of people, and believe it or not, they have had enough time to learn life skills too.

    People keep mentioning latch key kids as if that means something good. Don’t get me wrong, I was one. My mom taught us and allowed us to cook and to babysit our younger siblings etc. while my parents worked. However, many “latchkey kids” were not allowed to go out the door or use the stove while home alone, because the parents were too scared. That doesn’t sound any more “free range” than putting them in a camp / activity.

  68. Bob Davis March 14, 2017 at 12:30 am #

    I was amused by the comments about the term “schlep”–I’ve known it for many years and I’m a goy (non-Jewish). Just the other day I saw a moving truck that was lettered for “Shleppers”–it’s a moving and storage firm with branches in California, New York, New Jersey and Florida. I think the term has evolved to also mean doing usually unpleasant chores other than moving physical objects

  69. donald March 14, 2017 at 3:30 am #

    I wasn’t trying to be judgmental when I agreed with the question, “Do I really need this”?
    I was just pointing out that it has always been that today’s luxuries are tomorrow’s necessities. I like luxuries. I just keep in mind that the more that I acquire, the more that I depend on them. That’s why I limit them. Life is stressful enough. Buying luxuries is a juggle. Luxuries make life less stressful. However, becoming dependent on too many luxuries causes more stress. This is what I meant when I said that I like to own things. I don’t like things to own me.

    I also don’t like to eat brussels sprouts. However, I’m not judgmental against people that do.

  70. Alex March 14, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    As an adult who doesn’t own a car in his area, I often walk and use the bus but will occasionally call an Uber or Lyft to get somewhere more quickly. Buses stop more often, only pass by every so often, don’t come directly up to my home, and often follow a non-direct path to my destination, occasionally even involving a transfer. Uber and Lyft are useful – personally, I prefer Lyft lately because I can get the convenience of Location Services when requesting a ride but do not have to give Lyft permission to know my location 24/7 even while not using the app.

    When I was younger, I imagine there would also have been times when such a service would be good, so I am happy it exists. I worry the costs are much higher than Uber and Lyft due to all the extra background check stuff, but if I happened to have children and a lot of money then I’d probably let my kids use this service because I don’t want to have to request rides illegally for them through Uber or Lyft (for being under 18) and get my account banned.

    However, if I had to chose between a driver for my child who has had a billion background checks and a driver who has passed professional driving tests with flying colors, I’d choose the latter.

  71. SteveS March 14, 2017 at 8:30 am #

    From the standpoint of the company, it is genius. They are filling a mostly unserved niche. From a parent’s perspective, I could see this as being helpful in some situations. My wife and I are akemto manage the transportation needs of our kids between ourselves and other relatives. Occasionally, family friends have to help and it seems like we are providing rides to other kids on a weekly basis. That being said, this service seems helpful for those times when other rides can’t be easily found.

  72. Donna March 14, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    “So instead of yoga, do some jogging or power walking around the soccer field (or complex of fields). Or around the streets in the neighborhood, if it’s the sort of neighborhood in which one can do that. That’s an even better message – you can exercise without taking a class, outdoors.”

    Or maybe some should stop being so damned judgmental about what exercise other people choose to engage in. Good grief, how the hell can it possibly matter to you whether someone takes yoga classes or walks around a soccer field such that you have any opinion whatsoever as to what they do and how they make it happen?

    The whole outrage over this strikes me as “I don’t have a need for this so I am going to poo poo on its existence for no reason other than I like to poo poo on things that I don’t need.” There is absolutely nothing whatsoever that would indicate helicopterness or overscheduling about this. It is nothing more than a convenience tool for parents who need or want it. It could be used for overscheduling, but so could a calendar. Should we outlaw calendars because some choose to overschedule their children with them?

    It also strikes me as the antithesis of helicopter parenting. The helicopter parents I know would NEVER allow their children in cars with strangers no matter how well those strangers are vetted, wouldn’t trust that little Sally could walk from car to dance class without an adult escort and wouldn’t dream of missing a moment of little Sally’s tapping anyway.

  73. Workshop March 14, 2017 at 10:20 am #

    The service is the service. It is neither inherently good or evil. It is offered because there is a demand.

    Why would I object to someone using such a service occasionally? I am allowed a flexible job, but I understand that there are those who don’t have such a situation. That’s one reason why I don’t get upset when doctors are running late, or why the BMV line seems to take forever. Other people are not me.

    Do you use it often? Then you need to examine your priorities. If you have several kids, you have made a choice that WILL NECESSARILY LIMIT the amount of activities they can be involved in. This is neither good or bad, it simply is. Do you care for elderly family members? Then you have made a choice that WILL NECESSARILY LIMIT the freedom you have, which includes the amount of activities your children can be involved in.

    If you need to use this service on a regular basis, I’m going to be judgemental and say “you either have your kids in too many activities or you need to have better time management skills.”

    I suppose it is judgemental. That’s what my brain does. I judge that there are good choices and bad choices. I evaluate the options before me, and judge one to be better than others (unless it’s a choice between roasted brussel sprouts and roasted broccoli – that’s a toss up).

    Finally, JJ – I still didn’t write what you think I wrote. It’s a weird argument to say “I disagree with what I think you wrote.”

  74. pentamom March 14, 2017 at 10:35 am #

    ” I don’t think you meant it that way but in a house where parents work and/or take care of older relatives it’s not always going to be because their kids are overscheduled that they can’t get their kids somewhere.”

    Or if you have several kids over a wide age range — if you have little kids, you’re pretty tied down from just hopping up and going “wherever” whenever it might be fun to do something with the bigger ones. If you have three kids old enough to be in activities, you could have each of them doing just one thing once a week, and that’s three trips out a week that requires bundling up the little ones, etc., cuts down your time for housework and errands, etc. I’m not saying it’s undoable (I did it with five) but finding a shortcut convenient doesn’t necessarily mean you’re overscheduling or taking too much stuff on.

  75. pentamom March 14, 2017 at 10:38 am #

    “Do you care for elderly family members? Then you have made a choice that WILL NECESSARILY LIMIT the freedom you have, which includes the amount of activities your children can be involved in.”

    In some situations, that simply means you’ve made a choice not to be a terrible person who lets your elderly relative languish uncared for. Calling that a “choice” is a stretch.

  76. jennifer March 14, 2017 at 10:59 am #

    This sounds amazing! As other’s have said – it isn’t a matter of being over scheduled, but schedules not matching up. We are a one car family with two parents and 4 kids at home (2 now gone). I work part-time, partner full time. We homeschool and the 16 yr old attends community college. Public transportation is only occasionally an option (based on bus schedule and location). On an average day I am in the car about 3.5 hrs schlepping people around and the older kids spend an unfortunate number of hours waiting around.

    For example – the class my older daughter needed is from 8-9:15 on T/TH. Tuesday is may day to work (I also work evenings/weekends) and I am supposed to be in the clinic from 8-3:30. So she gets dropped off at 7 (so I can take my husband and then myself to work) and then has to wait at school until 4 for me to get off work. She could take the bus, but it is quite terrible for that particular trip and the in-transit time takes 2.5 hours for what is a 15 minute drive from our house – not mention she wouldn’t even get pick up on campus until 11:30. We has thought about using Uber but I had been (apparently incorrectly) told that one had to be an adult. Plus I had a friend who was raped by an uber driver and uber continues to let him drives so let’s just say I am NOT at all comfortable with a single female taking an uber (wish they would have an option to choose a woman driver or a particular driver)

    My kids have also missed birthday parties and field trips because they were at times I was working – sometimes carpooling works out, but sometimes it would mean someone taking a 30 minutes detour to get to us and I’m not willing to ask that of friends. And sometimes they just wanted to be in different places at different times or I really didn’t want to disrupt the toddler’s nap. So many uses!

  77. Momof8 March 14, 2017 at 11:27 am #

    Sounds like the subway option for places that don’t have a subway. (Isn’t that what started this movement?) What a great idea for places, like here, without public transportation. Kids can learn how to arrange transportation (I’m thinking of school-bused kids in after-school appointments) without Mom driving 20 miles to town to deliver them where they can’t walk.

  78. JJ March 14, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    Workshop I am not sure what you mean? I know what you wrote: “My take is that if you don’t have time to shuttle your kids to their stuff, you have them in too much stuff.” My point is thay I don’t see shame in outsourcing certain things relating to your kids.

  79. SteveS March 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm #

    Do you use it often? Then you need to examine your priorities.

    I have never used it, but I don’t see why anyone would need to examine their priorities, since I am assuming they already did and made the conscious decision to use this service. Numerous people in this thread have, IMO, given good reasons for why they need it, from being a single parent, to only having one car.

    I guess I don’t see this a some kind of extravagant luxury, nor do I see this as something other than some transportation alternative.

  80. SKL March 14, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

    So Workshop, do you also think my kid’s taking the school bus is a reflection of my poor priortizing, since it saves me the trouble of having to drive them the 5 miles to & from school? It saves me an hour a day if they take the bus both ways. How is that different from me arranging an Uber to take them somewhere?

    You think we need to re-examine our priorities.

    I think YOU need to re-examine your motivations behind your words.

    If you think you are doing us a favor by telling us we didn’t think things through about our own kids, lives, options, then think some more.

  81. Donna March 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    “I suppose it is judgemental. That’s what my brain does. I judge that there are good choices and bad choices. I evaluate the options before me, and judge one to be better than others”

    If that is what your brain does, then it appears that your brain is the problem and something that you should work on, not something that we should all just accept. There is nothing wrong with looking at the options before you and judging one to be better than others for YOUR FAMILY. That is what we expect from every parent. However, your insistence that you are the decider as to what is better for EVERY FAMILY IN AMERICA and finding everyone else wrong for not agreeing with you is the problem.

    “If you have several kids, you have made a choice that WILL NECESSARILY LIMIT the amount of activities they can be involved in.”

    No, if YOU have made a choice to have several kids then apparently YOU have made a choice that will necessarily limit the amount of activities YOUR CHILDREN can be involved in because YOU choose not to arrange other rides for YOUR CHILDREN. Other families can actually make the decision that having several children does not limit their activities because they have sufficient funds and/or other resources to arrange rides to said activities for all their children. Your way of doing things may be best for you, but is not the only way to live. Your decision that you are the arbiter of what is right and wrong for every family and that we must all do it your way is the issue here, not that some family chooses to do it different.

    “Do you care for elderly family members? Then you have made a choice that WILL NECESSARILY LIMIT the freedom you have, which includes the amount of activities your children can be involved in.”

    Again, you are 100% incorrect. The correct statement should be “I care for elderly family members. This choice has necessarily limited the freedom that I have, which includes the amount of activities that MY CHILDREN can be involved in because I CHOOSE not to have them driven to any of their activities by anyone other than a parent. Other people will have a different impact on their freedom depending on their own personal resources and decisions as to what is best for their individual family.”

  82. SKL March 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

    And also: I happen to be pretty proud of my scheduling abilities. 😛

  83. Emily March 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm #

    >>“So instead of yoga, do some jogging or power walking around the soccer field (or complex of fields). Or around the streets in the neighborhood, if it’s the sort of neighborhood in which one can do that. That’s an even better message – you can exercise without taking a class, outdoors.”

    Or maybe some should stop being so damned judgmental about what exercise other people choose to engage in. Good grief, how the hell can it possibly matter to you whether someone takes yoga classes or walks around a soccer field such that you have any opinion whatsoever as to what they do and how they make it happen?

    The whole outrage over this strikes me as “I don’t have a need for this so I am going to poo poo on its existence for no reason other than I like to poo poo on things that I don’t need.” There is absolutely nothing whatsoever that would indicate helicopterness or overscheduling about this. It is nothing more than a convenience tool for parents who need or want it. It could be used for overscheduling, but so could a calendar. Should we outlaw calendars because some choose to overschedule their children with them?

    It also strikes me as the antithesis of helicopter parenting. The helicopter parents I know would NEVER allow their children in cars with strangers no matter how well those strangers are vetted, wouldn’t trust that little Sally could walk from car to dance class without an adult escort and wouldn’t dream of missing a moment of little Sally’s tapping anyway.<<

    Thanks, Donna. I was about to tell Workshop, "just don't use HopSkipDrive if you think it's a bad idea," but you beat me to it. Besides the fact that some people (like me) live in colder climates, where jogging or power-walking around a soccer field wouldn't be feasible for five or six months of the year, some people prefer yoga, and anyway, how effective would it be to try to tell your child that your life doesn't revolve around them and their activities, while you're getting your exercise by, literally, revolving around their activities? All joking aside, like I said before, kids who participate in collaborative activities also have to be taught that they have a responsibility to the team/band/choir/cast of the play, so in that case, it's really not fair to keep them from those activities if it can be helped, and it sends a mixed message if you do. Besides, it's not only kids who play team sports; some adults do as well–my dad played hockey well into my childhood, and although it was a recreational league, and although my dad was never a great hockey player, you can't have a proper game without enough players. The same principle applies to the many musical ensembles I've participated in through the years, and it's also true of theatre, which I've been involved with as well. So, with that in mind, I think it's perfectly fine to tell a child, "You have to go to soccer tonight, and I have choir practice [or whatever], so HopSkipDrive is going to take you to soccer." Like it or not, it's a different time now–more people work full-time, so the days of the piano teacher living down the street, or the Brownie group that meets right after school in the gymnasium, are fading fast, so there are more instances where children legitimately have to be driven to activities, when they could have gotten themselves there a generation ago.

  84. SKL March 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

    A note to Donna – maybe you have some contacts who could recommend a person to drive your kid to activities. Or I wonder if care.com would have someone who could do that for you.

    Another possibility may be to hire a taxi. My ex-nanny did that for her special needs adult daughter, as she was not quite reliable with public transportation on her own.

    Myself, I can hardly wait until my kids can drive themselves. 😛 But in the mean time, I have no problem with other people driving them when I can’t. It doesn’t have to be part of a big driving service.

  85. Donna March 14, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

    SKL – I have had college kids drive my kiddo around to things, but find that they are often less than reliable. They are reliable for awhile and then bigger and better or funner things come along.

    Summer is when I would really like this. When she wants to go to half day camps in the morning and then come home and veg for the afternoon. But college kids are few and far between then and sadly none of her friends are nuts enough to want to go to triathlon camp in the middle of summer in Georgia with her.

    I am counting down the days until the kid drives myself.

  86. JJ March 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

    Emily, I love the visual of the parents’ activities literally revolving around the kids’ activities.

  87. James March 14, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    I think an app like this is a good thing. It gives parents options. Schedules can reasonably conflict, and having a way to deal with that is a good thing. Yes, with sufficient planning and skimping on things like sleep, meals, and personal grooming you can, just possibly, overcome some of these. But it would be nice to not have to.

    I work out of town a lot, which means my wife (a teacher) has to handle the kids. If she could pay someone to pick the kids up at daycare and drop them off each day, it would free several hours each afternoon–she could do more grading or career development, or doing the dishes or laundry or gardening, or just relax in a bath on occasion. I don’t know if the cost would be worth it or not, but it’s definitely something I can see being useful.

    Bear in mind, we live a pretty slow lifestyle. We both work, but fairly normal hours and our kids are too young to be in activities (where we are, anyway). A parent in emergency response–or both parents, as in many families I know–would find this VERY useful. You really don’t want your EMTs trying to figure out if they should save that person in cardiac arrest or pick up the kids before daycare closes. On-call doctors, interns, or really anyone who doesn’t have a set schedule would find this a useful tool for dealing with sudden changes in plans.

    Plus, I can see it being useful for teaching kids responsibility. You can make it THEIR job to be ready to go when they need to–and teach them how to handle things like scheduling for traffic. It’s a way to allow the kids to be in activities without forcing the parents to also be in them–the parents can see their kids off, and support the kids in other ways, but are free to spend the time that they’d normally spend on the road (if not watching practice or whatever) doing stuff they, the parents, want to do. It teaches the kids that it’s okay to enjoy things that other people don’t–you don’t need to limit yourself to just those things Mom and Dad enjoy. (All of this assumes parents using this app responsibly; obviously it’s possible to abuse it, as with anything.)

    Do they need to be monitored this closely? Probably not, but you’ll never convince the marketing team for this service of that. Stranger Danger is too deeply ingrained in our culture. But, to be fair, this isn’t unique to children. I’ve worked with a lot of haul truck drivers (dump trucks, flatbeds, rolloffs, etc), and many of their companies install GPS tracking systems in the cars. This is partially to ensure the drivers comply with company, state, and federal laws, and it’s partly so that if something happens the company can know where and when.

  88. test March 14, 2017 at 3:07 pm #

    @Workshop Or alternatively you can choose not to be dumb and pay the service to regularly get your kids to activities they like. Assuming you can afford it. It is a choice as much as allowing kids to transfer themselves or letting them go with random parent from community you live in.

    In any case, I think much more highly of people who take care of relatives and then pay driver then off people who demand that kidd of the former give up activities for no good reason. I am all for making the lives of people who have chosen to do the right thing as easy as possible.

  89. marie March 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm #

    It also strikes me as the antithesis of helicopter parenting. The helicopter parents I know would NEVER allow their children in cars with strangers no matter how well those strangers are vetted, wouldn’t trust that little Sally could walk from car to dance class without an adult escort and wouldn’t dream of missing a moment of little Sally’s tapping anyway.

    Bingo. Exactly what I was thinking. Just as there is a free-range value in letting your kids ride their bikes to dance class three miles away, there is a free-range value in letting your kids use Uber to attend events across town or after dark. When my kids were old enough to drive, it worried me that they could have an accident and wreck the car or be injured. I let them drive anyway and am awfully glad I did. They gained independence, they learned the layout of the city, they were able to give rides to other kids, they could run errands…and all without me watching to make sure they drove carefully. Did they follow all the rules? I DON’T KNOW. That’s a good thing.

    I don’t see the point in a service that is geared toward giving rides to kids…because the service is the same, whether it is adults or kids. You need a ride; I give you a ride. You (adult) throw up in my car; I give you a bad rating. You (kid) misbehave in my car; I give you a bad rating.

  90. Donna March 14, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    Marie –

    Both Uber and Lyft state that they do not allow unaccompanied minors to ride. My guess is that in reality teens are riding, however, I imagine that there would be more difficulty in getting my elementary school age kid transported.

  91. marie March 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    Thanks, Donna. I suppose that should have been obvious to me.

    Maybe hitchhiking is the answer. Certainly cheaper than paying Uber–and no age limits! LOL.

  92. MichelleB March 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    “When my kids were old enough to drive, it worried me that they could have an accident and wreck the car or be injured. I let them drive anyway and am awfully glad I did. They gained independence, they learned the layout of the city, they were able to give rides to other kids, they could run errands…and all without me watching to make sure they drove carefully. Did they follow all the rules? I DON’T KNOW. That’s a good thing.”

    Marie, a big part of your concern should be that your kids could hurt someone ELSE. Of course I don’t want my children injured or my car wrecked, but I also worry about the other people on the road and their property. (I also have permanent medical issues because someone’s kid was playing around with the radio and didn’t see the red light.)

  93. marie March 14, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

    MichelleB, yes, that’s true. My kids, when driving, could hurt someone else. Is your point that I should have mentioned that instead of my worry that my kids could get hurt themselves? Or is your point that they shouldn’t be driving until I can guarantee that they won’t hurt anyone?

    Either way, they are driving. So far, so good, which is the best any of us can do, no matter how long we’ve been on the road.

  94. pentamom March 14, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

    Donna —

    I’m not up on the ins and outs of this stuff, but my son just told me the other night that one of his friends took an Uber to something my son he was also going to. I’m fairly certain the other kid is 16 or 17.

  95. MichelleB March 14, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

    Marie, my point is that you only expressed concern about your kids and car. I know a lot of people who honestly don’t think of anything beyond their own kids and car.

    I can’t be sure that one of my children will never cause an accident. (That’s what the insurance policy with high limits is for.) But I can keep them from driving alone until I’m convinced that they’ll follow the rules of the road and are competent drivers. That meant a lot of driving on my part, and a lot of riding around while they drove, but that’s the way it is.

  96. pentamom March 14, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

    “Maybe hitchhiking is the answer. Certainly cheaper than paying Uber–and no age limits! LOL.”

    In many jurisdictions, hitchhiking is now illegal. So the age limit is effectively zero. 😛

  97. pentamom March 14, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

    MichelleB, no matter how much you ride around with them and make sure they know the rules, you can never be absolutely sure they will follow them when they’re not with you. At some point, you have to let them go, just like your parents did. It’s a false sense of security that if you do everything right, your kids will do everything right. All you can do is the best you can do.

  98. James March 14, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

    “But I can keep them from driving alone until I’m convinced that they’ll follow the rules of the road and are competent drivers.”

    But you can’t know that, at least not beyond a certain probability. You can be certain that when you’re with them they’ll act a certain way–but once you’re not there, they will necessarily behave differently. This is a pretty firmly established psychological concept at this point: people behave differently under observation than when they are not under observation.

    For you, the threshold is pretty high. For others, the threshold is lower. And that’s fine–this all will depend on the individual, the teen, the car, and the local environment. I’d like my three year old drive on the street I live on, but I’m not sure anyone (well, maybe a stunt driver) is a good enough driver to handle the 405 in Orange County, CA!

    There’s also a difference in teaching methods. You prefer a lot of training to minimize dangers once the training ends. Others prefer less training, and more real-world experience. Neither is bad; both have their risks and their advantages. I was a good kid, had a lot of training before I was left on my own, and I have been told I drive like a little old man. My uncle had little training, was set loose when…well, when his family needed him to be, wrecked a few cars, and can do things with a car that I still don’t believe are possible, despite being in the car when it happened. Neither is inherently better or worse; it’s just that our families, and we ourselves, made different choices.

    But that’s the thing: we need to recognize that different options are not inherently worse than the ones we prefer.

  99. Jason March 14, 2017 at 6:19 pm #

    A couple years ago, someone told me that her young teenage son and his friends routinely used Uber to get home after hanging out at the beach and such. “Thank God for Uber,” she said, as she frequently worked evenings and couldn’t drive him.

    I was surprised that Uber allowed minors, so I googled it and ended up reading a forum for drivers. Sure enough, it is forbidden by company policy. But, the drivers like to eat, so many of them will pick anyone up.

    Others strongly cautioned against it, with one of the major arguments being the consequences of being accused of some impropriety. That’s already a risk with an adult passenger, but obviously worse with a minor, especially when they’re violating policy to begin with.

  100. Corinna March 14, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

    I wish this was in my area I really need it.

  101. Puzzled March 14, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

    >Why would I object to someone using such a service occasionally?

    Well, I sure don’t know. But then, I also don’t know why you’d object to someone using such a service regularly.

    > If you have several kids, you have made a choice that WILL NECESSARILY LIMIT the amount of activities >they can be involved in. This is neither good or bad, it simply is. Do you care for elderly family members? >Then you have made a choice that WILL NECESSARILY LIMIT the freedom you have, which includes the >amount of activities your children can be involved in.

    Well, these sound reasonable and true. It’s too bad, though, that some service doesn’t exist that would enable people in these situations to, nonetheless, have their kids participate in activities. I have an idea for that, though. Picture this: a cell phone app that you can use to call for a ride. Oh, wait, you mean that already exists? You mean it’s the very thing this post is about? In that case, I don’t see how your conclusions follow.

  102. Roger the Shrubber March 15, 2017 at 8:04 am #

    Yes, the marketing angle of vetted drivers plays into the stranger-danger fears. Marketers are horrible people. But in the end, this service gives more independence to children, not less. So no, this is not the end of childhood freedom. Rather, it is the exact opposite.

  103. Emily March 15, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    A few more things I’d change about HopSkipDrive–first, I’d make it so that older kids could arrange their own rides, and second, the “no deviation from the plan whatsoever” thing is weird. One of the FAQ’s was “What if the child using HopSkipDrive has to go to the bathroom during the ride?”; and the answer was that the “CareDrivers” weren’t allowed to stop, because they weren’t allowed to go anywhere except the planned destination, so the child should go before the ride…..which is all well and good in theory, but there are no hard limits on distance, so it might not work out in practice. Speaking of hard limits, it says that the minimum age to use HopSkipDrive is six, but I wonder if they’d make exceptions for younger kids with older siblings, like, say, a five-year-old and an eight-year-old attending Daisies and Brownies, respectively, at the same location, at the same time? If both parents are unavailable to drive (or if there’s only one parent to begin with), and both kids need to get to their Scouting activities, then the age limit would essentially make HopSkipDrive useless to that family.

  104. SKL March 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm #

    Until this post, I didn’t know Uber had an age limit.

    Now I’m seeing the baby uber has an age limit of 6. I can get on board with that. If I were a driver, I’d want the kid to be about that old, as they can usually communicate fairly clearly, manage bathroom needs reasonably well, follow reasonable rules, and understand the transportation plan.

  105. Nicole March 18, 2017 at 1:17 am #

    As a parent who’s husband often travels for work, and two kids in very different activities (no not over-scheduled- but they do overlap on one night), I love the idea! This week I am trying to figure out how to get my son home from his STEM club presentation night at 8pm, while simultaneously getting my daughter to soccer at 8pm in the next town over. And yes, we have looked into bus schedules (doesn’t run that late), riding his bike (no sidewalk on a portion), so yup I am all over this!

  106. Jeannette Wells March 18, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    When I moved to a small village of around 500 souls in NE from the 9 million people living in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County, FL, I noticed something. These children ride their bikes downtown by themselves. They play in the street with other kids on the block. They have a freedom I never saw in So. FL.

    Parents don’t worry too much because pretty much everyone knows who the kids are, who their parents are, and where they live. If they misbehave, parents are called.

    Hmmm! Sounds like the “Leave it to Beaver” way I grew up in the 50s. Hmmm . . . Maybe the big cities are the problem.

  107. Puzzled March 19, 2017 at 1:54 am #

    No, it’s nothing like Uber. It’s called ooober.

  108. Hans March 25, 2017 at 6:35 am #

    This is a night-mare. Posh kids getting their own taxi?

    When I was 8 years old, I started to go to Judo lessons in the next town. This was 8km bicycle ride through some forest and fields. When it rained would parents drive me? No. One time I lost my key. So I send a friend to my parents to tell them that we will be late. It was dark the time I reached the forest. Was I scared? Maybe, a little bit. What did my parents say the time I got home? Oh boy, why do you keep loosing stuff all time? I hope you will take better care of your stuff from now on…. I did do that, well I tried to