The Idiot’s Guide to Picking Up Your Kids From School

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 I thought 10 Steps to a Successful School Drop Off would have been enough information to help parents safely navigate the treacherous school drop off/pick up waters. Sadly, dear friends I was wrong. So, because you asked here is the safety guide for retrieving your children from school. As always feel free to laminate this in the teacher’s work room and post it outside your school’s parking area.

1) Do not at any time “freelance” from the correct entrance and exit points to your child’s school. Not even if your uber talented angel, who everyone that will still listen to you knows is a freaking sports prodigy, has a private, very expensive, oh so hard to get lesson, from pick one: a batting coach, almost MLS soccer God, former Division 3 NCAA football star, dance legend, as seen on TV Cheer captain etc. and this means you’ve got to pick up your kid right this very minute because that lesson starts soon and the money clock is tick, tick, ticking. This harrowing, almost crisis VIP situation, still does not give you permission to enter in the exit only lane, drive on the grass, hop a curb, park in the school bus area and generally give every other parent that is following the rules the middle finger with your car management behavior.

2) If you’re in the school pick up line and your precious child gets to the car and announces they forgot their homework and will need to go back into the school DO NOT remain in the pick up line. You will hold up the line for God only knows how long because there is n-o-t-h-i-n-g slower than a kid going back into a school to look for something. You have two choices. 1) Tell your child to get in the car and then proceed to a school parking lot. From there you both go into the school for homework rescue. 2) Send your absent-minded sweetie back into the school and inform him/her that you will be waiting for them in the school parking lot.

3) The school pick up lane is not an informal sorority rush function or a Kappa mixer with the Chi O’s. This means Under No Circumstances do you, the parent/driver, leave your car. I know it’s tempting when you’ve got five minutes to kill till the bell rings and there’s Sarah sitting in her Suburban and it’s been maybe a whole two hours since you talked to her at the Pilates studio and wow, a lot has happened since then, like you just found out that Mandi is going to be chair of the Junior League Christmas Affair. Are you F’ing kidding me? Regardless, I implore you to resist the urge to exit your vehicle. Stay seated and distract yourself by doing a Kegal workout (remember to keep those muscles contracted for at least 10 seconds at a time) because we all know what’s going to happen when you get out of your car. Sure, you’ll start by chatting up the Escalady behind you but then because you’re one super popular mom and you’re having an excellent hair day you’ll begin working the pick up lane like it’s a receiving line at a wedding. Before you know it you’re engrossed in some juicy gossip with the mom 15 cars back, so juicy you don’t notice the kids are out of school and meanwhile your empty vehicle has been holding up the pick up lane for 10 minutes.

4) You also do not leave your vehicle to go inside the school to check on one little thing that you know will only take a minute. Less than a minute really because you just need to ask a quick question. It never takes a minute. Elementary and middle schools are the lands that time forget. Once you enter a single minute magically stretches into 20 and there you are inside blissful unaware that your empty car is creating a parking lane log jam.

5) If you are volunteering at the school do not make the mistake of parking your car at the beginning of the pick up lane. Yes, I know you arrived at school at 1 p.m. so you could cut out fall leaves for the cafeteria bulletin boards and of course no one was in the pick up lane at 1 and quite frankly you think you should get the first space in line because hello, you’re volunteering. Shouldn’t there be some upside? But here’s the problem, by the time the bell rings you are still not at your car because you got distracted either admiring your handiwork with scissors (Seriously, fall leaves have never been cut with more precision and attention to detail) or by chatting with various members of the school staff so there sits your driverless car, all alone, creating gridlock more impressive than those leaves you cut.

6) Restrain yourself with the best of your ability to not flee from you car the moment you see your children’s happy faces walk out of the school building. I know it’s hard to wait even one second longer to give those bundles of awesomeness great big hugs and sprinkle kisses up and down their faces as those other, less loving, and dare I say lazy moms, just sit in their SUV’s and wait for their kids to actually open their own car door. I mean OMG, you’ve been separated from your love bugs for seven agonizing hours. What kind of mother doesn’t get out of her car? Who cares about holding up the line? Just take a couple of deep breaths. You’ll have them all to yourselves very soon and then you can do a great big family hug and ignore them as soon as you get home to watch a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon.

7) If you are sending Nana, the nanny or a neighbor to collect your kids from school I not only beg you to make sure they know how the school pick up lane works but I suggest a trial run with you in the car for guidance. One timid grandma, texting nanny, or clueless neighbor can clog up the whole pick up procedure. I once saw some kid’s Papaw reduced to tears and he was a Vietnam Vet. This kid retrieval process is not for the faint of heart. Forget the Vietcong, there’s not much meaner than a mom who has to go to the bathroom (like you wouldn’t believe how bad because right before she came to get her kids she made a quick grocery store run and there was no way she was going to use the restrooms at Walmart), has three kids to get to soccer practice in less than 30 minutes and is about to run out of gas stuck behind a great grandpa in a 1979 Buick LaSabre who doesn’t know he’s supposed to move up in the line not stay parked.

If you already abide by these rules I salute not only your common sense but your higher level cognitive intelligence. Go forth now my smart friends and lead by example.