The morning routine is so easy now. I naturally wake up a couple hours earlier than I did when I started driving my kids to school, so impossibly long ago, and school starts a couple hours later, so what was once a mad dash of breakfasts/lunches/clean uniforms and other hurdles now seems downright leisurely.

There’s just one of them now, instead of three. And this one’s fairly self-sufficient: listens to her teachers, does her homework, brushes her teeth and all that without us standing over her.

Even with one kid in school, the day is still dictated by its bookends: dropoff and pickup. But it’s a far cry from the days when we had three separate schools to navigate, when pickup took a couple hours from start to finish, when my wife would bring office work with her while she waited in three separate queues for our charges.

Because this one is the last one. Not only that, she’s in her last year of high school, so this is really it. And already, just a week or so into the school year, she’s waved off her afternoon ride — the one that my wife and I have built our lives around since 2005 — more than once, the way a shooter on the basketball court will wave off a pick, preferring to mess around with her friends after school before homework and dinner.

Our secret: We love it, the non-negotiable pickup and dropoff dates that have buttressed most of our days. We didn’t always, but we do now.

We’re hyper aware, my wife and I, that this is the last one, that there’s a finite number attached to those meandering rides to school, those open-ended pickups that sometimes involved sodas or ice cream and, always, candy on Fridays. And so we treasure them like the last few baubles in the bag, circle the days in our calendars, think up subjects to talk about or playlists we want to share on the ride and try not to think about that final circuit to and from school, which we know is coming in June.

That will be the Last One.

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