“Car Drop Off Line? No. Parking Lot? Yes!”
Yet another summer has come to a screeching halt before any of us were really ready for it to go. It’s still been nearly 90 degrees out, sun blazing. But it’s September, and those glossy floors that the custodians so carefully cleaned and waxed are now home to lost class schedules, those little scraps of paper left from tearing a sheet from a notebook, and the footprints of the hundreds of students and staff who have returned, filling schools with the everyday noise, chaos and life that is back to school season. If you have kids in school, you are in one of two camps: you either are sad that you’re apart during school hours after a summer together, or you are relieved for the restored routine, happy that school is back in session. The start of school is definitely a beginning and an ending all at the same time.
Since we’re talking about things that divide the parents of schoolchildren, let’s talk about the dreaded school drop off line. If your kids ride the bus, complain all you want about having to rush to get to the stop on time, but consider yourself lucky that you are not part of the daily drama of the drop off line. If your kids don’t ride the bus, you are either part of Club Tuck and Roll, or you need to use the parking lot. There are no other options.
Don’t even think about getting in the drop off line if your student is still finishing up her Latin homework in the car, or needs your help retrieving his cello from the back of your SUV. No. The car line is not for you. That is why there are parking lots. The parking lot is where you go when your child (or you!) is in need of a bit of extra time before exiting your vehicle and skipping joyfully toward the school doorway. I am the parent of middle schoolers, I know there is no joyful skipping (but that there is plenty of Latin homework). If you want those extra minutes together for a heartfelt goodbye and a pep talk for the day ahead, nobody is going to give you a single bit of shade about that so long as you are doing so in the parking lot and not the drop off line.
Those of us who are part of Club Tuck and Roll know that the very essence of the drop off line is that it is a continuous stream of stops and starts but that it is meant to keep moving forward. Pull ahead, don’t just park in the spot that is nearest to the door. You need to pull up to let the other cars behind you file into place and not back up onto the street. Cars pull up, kids – having already gathered their things and said their goodbyes – hop out, cars pull away so the next batch repeats the routine. Over and over, until every car in the drop off line has deposited its precious cargo at the curb.
When someone who belongs in the parking lot decides to enter the drop off line, that breaks the zen of the drop off line (note: if you have ever been in the drop off line, you know there is no zen there). There is a wrench thrown in the works, the machinery of the drop off line comes to a (muttering, sometimes honking) frustrating halt. The parents in the cars behind you, Parking Lot Parent in the Drop Off Line, are not thinking pleasant thoughts about you. You are the substance of countless internet memes and funny Facebook videos that make the Club Tuck and Roll Team nod in knowing solidarity. Don’t be that person.
In all seriousness, there is a real safety issue that arises when the drop off line doesn’t continue its smooth orderly progression. Traffic gets backed up, snaking through lots and onto the street. There are plenty of pedestrians around school grounds, and it’s important to keep things safe. Let’s all do our part to help keep things moving and most of all – keep things safe. Here’s to a fantastic school year for all the kids, teachers and staff. We’d honk and wave, but we’ve got to keep moving.
Picture: Beattie Elementary School