The first few days of school in September are ideal for walking to and fro school. The weather is typically delightful; we are still afresh with energy and enthusiasm for the brand spanking’ new school year. Donning their immaculate new sneakers and backpacks (and the triple stroller), we cheerfully embark on our brief walk to school.
Fast forward about a week or two, when the shine has worn off. The sneakers are scuffed, the backpacks are heavier, and the enthusiasm has waned.
Suffice to say, most every morning of recent weeks has been a car ride in the ole’ mom-mobile rather than a walk through the neighborhood. And even then, we cut it close by the time everyone is properly clothed & ready to depart.
In some ways, driving to the school is just easier. Granted, its a few short blocks, but it eliminates the unpredictability of my strength in pushing the triple stroller along at a fast clip. It minimizes the chances of having to chastise the “lagger”: the child that inevitably slows his or her pace to just above a crawl.
And it reduces my need to whip the group up into a frenzied dash, chanting,
“Run… ruuuuunn! The doors are closing… go, kids, go! GOOOOOO- I mean- Love Yooooouuuu….!”
Lest you think car pooling is a painless option, however, I’m here to tell you otherwise.
Now, our elementary school lacks an adequate parent parking lot, so there’s no option to simply pull into a spot, park, and leisurely deposit your children in a calm, orderly fashion. Because that would be too easy.
In addition, you are prohibited to park on the street in front of the school.
Well, that certainly complicates things, no?
But that’s not all….
Add to the conundrum the fact that traffic is approaching the school building from roughly six roads, running both parallel AND perpendicular to the school building. In case geometry was not your strong suit, I’ll give you a visual of what our school drop-off/pick-up traffic resembles:
But that’s still not all…
This is New York, people. So throw in a few people that are running late to work, stalled on an endless school traffic line. Mix in a few over-caffeinated, tense drivers that are analyzing the crossing guard’s every hand move with the scrutiny of an armchair quarterback.
And while you can’t actually hear their words of angst, rage, etc., you can SEE them. The arms flung up in the air in disgust.
Driver: “Did she ACTUALLY let that car go before me?? WTF? I was waiting… oh, she better not let these walkers cross NOW, because there’s my opening and- DAMMIT. They’re walking. %&#^%!”
You can’t hear these words, but I believe they sound like this:
The course is littered with obstacles, with a singular objective: to drop your kid, or in my case kidS, off to school alive: without damaging your car, someone else’s car, or your reputation as an upstanding member of the community.
Easier said than done.
It’s a challenge. Because even if you manage to rassle the kids into the car in a timely manner, which, quite frankly is challenging enough, you are bound to face the obstacles: long lines. I mean, looonnnng lines. Honkers in front of you. Honkers behind you. Another loooong line. Cars trying to cut in front of you. Cars trying to cut behind you. More honking.
There’s an uneasy truce amongst the drivers. Screw it up, and you face the wrath of several angry parents:
What is most disturbing about the drop-off/pick-up, however, is the general disregard that some parents have in preserving the greater good, a.k.a, the life and well being of other people’s children.
If the parent isn’t fortunate enough to score a quick curb pull-up directly in front of the building, then the poor kids are forced to dash through the cars scattered haphazardly scattered around the building. In order to enter the halls of learning, some kids must play “Dash or DIE” because some drivers can’t be bothered to slow down.
Do I get annoyed and impatient waiting in line? Yes, I do. Do I get frustrated as I watch the minutes tick away as other cars swoop out of nowhere and jockey into a stolen position? Of course. But I don’t want my- or anyone else’s kids- to start their days under such a cloud of stress and tension. So I won’t:
- HONK: The truth? It doesn’t…make… a difference. If the cars in front of you can’t move, the honking won’t magically open up the gridlock. Trust me- many, many others have tried this, and failed.
- INSULT THE CROSSING GUARD: I give them credit, just for being brave enough to stand IN the traffic in the midst of crazy drivers. And the cold. Dear Lord, the cold. Or rain The cold, cold rain. Good job, ladies. I salute you.
- STEAL A SPOT: Yes, I want to get my kids out of the car -so I can stop listening to their grumbling about how late we might be-, but, I simply cannot be rude to my fellow parent drivers. Even when they deserve it- and yes, some of you DO. Word!
- SPEED IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL: Need this be explained?? Tiny little people are crossing the street in what becomes an Education Gauntlet: weave through the cars stopping willy-nilly, and try, just TRY to get into your school building without coming into physical contact with a car. Nothing like a good bolt of adrenalized panic to jump-start the morning learning process, right??
I’d love to be able to avoid the morning frenzy by planning ahead and walking to school, but… you know how I feel about being cold by now, so that ain’t happening.
So show a little love and patience on the school drive lines, people. And I’ll do the same; at least until spring, when maybe I’ll plan ahead and come up with a nifty new way to avoid the car crush and get the kiddies off to school.Six Pack Mom