You may be among the blessed whose school districts use a big yellow bus system whereby you are spared the pleasures of pick-up/drop-off. Or maybe you homeschool and lead us all to wonder why we are not doing the same.
The school system where our children are enrolled does not have a busing system. The schools are located in rural-burbia where children do not typically walk or bike but rather climb into oversized sport utility vehicles with 2-3 cute dogs wagging their tongues out the window and are transported everywhere. I seriously wonder sometimes if this is what my forbearers dreamed about when coming to America. Lo, let us mount a sea voyage to the new world, they said, a twinkle in their eye, where we will enjoy a famine-less potato crop and our children will never need to exercise because we will drive them everywhere!
But that is neither here nor there.
My point is that there is a long long queue of minivans and big SUVs parked outside our kids’ school every morning and every afternoon and it is a scary scene if you don’t know what to expect. Here’s the reveal:
The first rule of drop-off/pick-up is to you never mess with the flow of traffic. Trust, you do want to be that person who is trying to do creative maneuvers into the school driveway. You remember that part from “Mr. Mom.” Enter from the South, exit to the North. You want to be in the correct lane and not have to depart from it or you will suffer sinister glares from fellow parents and you will sleep with one eye open lest they send gremlins up your shower drain at night for trying to pull a three-lane sweep just to get to the clutch parking spot. Also, don’t be that guy who is sitting in the pick-up lane totally unawares of others trying to advance because he is sweeping like woah in Candy Crush. Fear the gremlins, bro.
The second thing you need to know about drop-off/pick-up is that you need to keep your eyes on the prize. If you have to go into the school building (true fear) as we do because of legal stipulations for signing kids in/out, you are going to have to watch out for the landmines. You are basically going to have to storm the beaches of Normandy to retrieve your kid. Everywhere, there will be social explosions. The mom whose name you can never remember. The dad who always wants to have a Big Long Conversation about the new math. The school librarian who got a super cute new haircut and you just need to let her know. You have got to avoid all this, fair voyager, or else you will never make it to the end of this Super Mario level and rescue the princess. I mean, haha, pick-up/drop-off is not a video game! That would be insanity if I thought of it as a game. I meant, you need to put on the tunnel vision blinders so you can get to your child(ren) and take him/her/them home or chauffeur them to any number of organized activities and suffer more helicopter parenting. I mean, enjoy watching your kid kick the ball into the goal.
Then there is the matter of all the tiny student people who are slugging backpacks that are so large they have a Pizza Hut inside of them. Do not trip on them in the hallway. Try to dodge them at all costs. They will flatten you.
Let us also discuss the dress code of drop-off/pick-up. We live in the South where wearing sweatpants in public is the equivalent of announcing, I have just gotten out of jail and this is all I was given to wear. Regardless of your incarceration status, if you are a female in the South, you must look fresh, have your “hair fixed” and have a handbag that matches your ensemble if you are venturing out. I am a daughter of the MidWest, so this all is against my constitution. Ergo, I am not always befitting of Haute Drop-off. If I am not teaching on a particular day, I am reliably going hard with my yoga attire, as if I have just gone to yoga or am headed there now. En route to bringing my children home, I will wave at the yoga studio like we are old friends, when the daughter of the MidWest in me knows the truth. And so, probably, do you.
I know there will come a day all too soon that this pick-up/drop-off madness will cease and I will hear the door slam to my child running out to hop into a friend’s car and I will wonder if my child will die in a car accident or be prosecuted for wearing sweatpants in public. A part of me will long for the days when I was the chief executive of transportation operations. After that panicky prayer is uttered, I will probably go find my kid’s lunch on the counter and turn around and bring it to her in school where I will wait in the endless queue of parents dropping off their kid at school.