I said this in a text message to my friends half-jokingly, but the more I think about it, the more these words have helped me to “rise above” the drama that is our elementary school drop-off. It started when a fellow parent mentioned that “people” were talking about me on Facebook. I was like, what? They didn’t mention me by name – on the PTO Facebook page – but referrals to the “woman who gets out of the car and opens her trunk in the drop-off line” definitely pointed to me. I do it everyday dammit. And I’m proud of it. What I have to admit, however, is that I started to not feel proud in my actions and I even began to question my judgment. My friend did too as she succumbed to the advice – park in a parking spot and walk your kids across the moving traffic if you intend to exit your car. Bullshit.
It’s kinda funny (but not really) – this is our fourth year at this school and I don’t recall there being such an “issue” with the drop-off. Of course no set-up would ever be perfect and you always have to be careful with kids when in any kind of “parking and moving cars” situation. They even did some “improvements” to the set-up a few years back and it helped. Still, even with piles of snow stealing many of the usual suspect parking spots (not to mention the “illegal” ones being harder to access with snow), I honestly don’t recall there being such a hoopla. Don’t ask if I ever got a ticket for parking in one of those illegal spots!
I classify myself as being pretty efficient, so it really never occurred to me that my “exiting my car each morning to hand out back-packs, etc. to my kids as they each exited the car” (pretty efficiently, I might add) pissed some folks off. My first reaction to the parent who mentioned “the talk” on Facebook was like f-that. I’m going to continue to get out of my damn car, there’s no way I’m going to have the kids pile multiple bags on the floor (on top of their feet) in our four-door sedan. Yeah, that would make getting out of the car that much better. Not.
It’s been entertaining to see this situation evolve. Rather lengthy descriptions of the “how-to” of the drop-off regularly appear in the weekly newsletter – last week we even had a drawing – even more helpful in my opinion. My “geographer husband” pointed out how the illustration could have been drawn more “true to scale,” or something like that – you know, from the guy who makes maps for a living. His “grand scheme solution” (echoed by several other parents I’ve commiserated with on the subject) is to “switch” the bus/teacher parking lot with the drop-off parking lot. Everybody’s got an opinion. And maybe that’s the problem?
While I didn’t actually “request to be added” to the PTO Facebook page, I did rely upon several of my “close confidantes” (each of whom probably spent more than an hour reading through the comments and such) to confirm that I probably “didn’t want to go there.” So I didn’t.
Instead, I ponied up some of my “yogic wisdom” and attempted to not attach to the drama of the drop-off.
The clincher part of this story is that I did attach. I started to feel bad about my “routine” of handing out bags to my kids while in the drop-off line. I became “self-conscious” each day as I zoomed in at exactly 8:41 (bell rings at 8:45) and slowly inched up among the long line of cars. For the record, I also don’t recall there being that many people dropping off in the morning, cars have never snaked that far back before. But then again, I could be wrong since in past years, I was tending to “zoom in” at 8:44. Don’t ask if I’ve received any “excessive tardy” letters either. I’m much improved this year – with a typical five-minute cushion. Except when the drop-off line eats up several of those minutes. Dammit. But I digress.
Seriously, I even started feeling a little stressed as I approached the drop-off. Unlike my friend who, after consulting someone “in the know” when it comes to the finer details of the drop-off procedure, decided that since “optimally” they want parents to “stay buckled” in the drop-off line, she would follow suite by parking and walking the kiddos across the moving lanes of traffic. Great idea, huh? So, I’m one of those “rule bender” parents who does NOT stay buckled, but instead, carries on with the “handing out of the bags” scenario described above.
These days, the drop-off is even more entertaining now that teachers are directing traffic (the good souls they are – I give them credit for trying). It’s kind of cute, seeing the principal waving cars to move up along the line, which really, in my opinion is the biggest problem associated with the drop-off. Folks not pulling ahead so that the entire line is filled, but instead, stopping right in front of the doors. Nothing’s ever going to be perfect, so I think the best solution here is a combination of paying attention to the “general flow” the principal and teachers are trying to achieve, while at the same time, doing what’s right for your own situation. Doing what’s best for you and your kids.
At least that’s what I’m doing. And despite only jokingly mentioning to my friends that “I only bring LOVE to the drop-off,” I’m finding this mantra to be quite helpful.
I’ve continued to exit my car to help my kids, even doing so in full view of the principal (I thought, here’s her chance to set me straight, if she’s gonna do it) and it’s all been good. I’ve payed extra attention to whether “other parents” exit their cars in the line, and while most “stay buckled,” a good portion do get out to help the little ones and to help with a bag or two. The point here is that we’re all doing what feels best to us and our individual situations.
If we all approach the drop-off with a little love and an extra dose of patience, things might actually improve. Which I do think is happening. For me personally, I’m not thinking about what other people might be thinking about me. I’m saying hi to my “friendly fellow parent peeps” as I usually do and I’m refraining from “talking smack” about the drop-off. It’s just not worth my time and energy. And it’s not worth yours.
So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let us all bring a little more love to the drop-off. It just might make it an uplifting and pleasant situation for everyone.
P.S. My “rule follower” friend recently texted me and said, “Done with the damn parking lot. Kids almost got run over.” So, she’s coming over to “my side” as a “rule bending” parent who exits her car because that just happens to be the best thing that works for her every morning at exactly 8:41 a.m.