A few days ago one of my oldest friends (as in years that we’ve known each other) came to visit me in my little world in northern Indiana. After talking about ourselves and our mental states for approximately 67 minutes, we finally got around to the subject of our children and school. Hers are continuing on at a large parochial school in a large metropolitan area. Great fit for her kids. Mine made the switch to a neighborhood public school this year after always attending private Christian schools. So far a good fit for my kids.
She asked how the big change was going for me knowing that all I am acquainted with is private Christian school as I spent 12 years there myself, and that this whole public school thing was a huge leap of faith for me. You normal people who only know public school – I can’t expect you to understand because you were not told for years that public schools were the epicenters of promiscuity, satanic activity and general moral degradation. So, just trust me when I said this new school thing was no small adjustment for me.
Well, I tell you this, I began sharing, drop off and pick up was a little chaotic for me at first since I never received the traffic pattern information and felt completely lost the first day, but I just followed the cars in front of me, and observed that no small children were mowed over, no parents got out of their cars to take part in hand to hand combat and, it appears by lack of any flashing bulletins in the local news, that all of the over 700 students grades K-6 got out of the school and returned back home without incident.
She almost spit out her drink.
And I knew why.
Private school drop off and pick up times are hell.
There’s actually a video on the school website that we are supposed to watch this year, she lamented. There’s a camera mounted on the dashboard of a car driving the correct route through the pick- up point. I kid you not.
I visited her school once to pick up her kids and sat in one long snaking line inching forward through neon vest wearing, walkie- talkie carrying adults who I swear were brandishing billy clubs. She fished around in her glove box to get the correct form to stick in her windshield and drove past two or three of these intimidating professional vehicle directors until she arrived at the front of the school where two of her three kids were waiting. But, alas! Where was her high school foreign exchange student? I’ll tell you where. Not there. The vehicle- directing Nazis were growing impatient. Thank heavens, Hannah, the student, finally appeared at door or I swear from the looks of things, my friend was going to be stopped, pulled from the car, spread eagled, relieved of her Pick Up Form and sent to the back of the pick- up line.
My experiences haven’t been as bad as hers. The Baptist run school our girls attended for three years was very nice. Most of the time I parked and went in to retrieve them every afternoon or we just walked since we lived so close, but in the morning I dropped them off following the traffic pattern that all of us parents were apprised of during the Official Night Before School Starts Open House. The principal educated all of us on the procedure complete with a blown up Power Point display as well as a map found in our ONBSSOH folders. Drop off in the morning was great – teachers and high school students greeted the kids, and in the afternoon, though the line could be long, things ran relatively smoothly. I never experienced so much as an angry glare. They constantly mis-pronounced my name as Ja-more-a instead of Ha-more-a, but, hey, I’m a white gal with a Spanish sounding last name so I always let it slide. Should have kept my maiden name Brown.
The only problem I ever encountered came about from dealing with BMW guy who insisted every morning on screwing everything up for everyone by entering the Daily Drop Off Extravaganza from the wrong direction, parking on the curb right where the littlest of students were dropped off all to walk in his sixth grade son. That’s right. Sixth Grade. Perfectly groomed BMW guy with perfectly coiffed hair had to let all of us other parents, who were just shoving our kids out the door and beating it out of there, know what a great dad he was, I guess. I’m no predictor of the future, but I can tell you this much, my little girls who hiked it out of our non- German import car at the age of five hauling all their school crap themselves and managing to wander into their classroom on time without incident might possibly be a tad more prepared than his walked- in- son when it comes time to hit the real world. I could be wrong.
After our move to northern Indiana, we did a stint at the Lutheran school where Mr. BMW would have been shellacked by Lutheran Traffic Control Man. Remember those Don’t Mess With Texas shirts years back? Well, let me tell you, Texans have nothing on the Lutherans. I didn’t have a map ahead of time, but the secretary, the teacher and my sister-in-law instructed me in all things pick up and drop. Six cars pull up at a time. Six cars unload. Six cars are moved on out. Next six cars. Same thing for pick up. And woe upon that person who tried to take off early or lingered a little too long. He or she would meet with the wrath of Mr. Lutheran Traffic Control Man. My sister-in-law had a run-in with him a few years back and while her kids no longer attend the school, they do attend the church, and Mr. Lutheran Traffic Control Man and my sister –in-law Do Not Speak. (It may not be the Christian thing to do, but really, it’s best for everyone.)
Eventually, my friend and I had to end our time together and go our separate ways.….and then tonight I received this from her via email…a note from her school regarding traffic patterns.
(It appears that some of you parents out there who send your children to a large parochial school in a large midwestern town are not watching the required traffic videos available for your viewing pleasure on your school website. So, I’ll share this instructional email along with my translation lest there be any questions.)
IMPORTANT CAR LINE INFORMATION (2012-2013) Only for the current school year. We like to mix it up from year to year just to keep you on your toes.
Please read carefully and respond by Friday, August 25TH. Thank you! If you don’t respond, your child will be immediately dis-enrolled and thrown back into the public school system where they don’t care about your kids as shown by their complete lack of traffic pattern education updates on their websites.
To help with traffic congestion on campus and to alleviate children sitting in the gym for a long period of time after school, we have created a late car option for ONLY those who qualify. This does not apply to bus students who are dismissed with all other bus students. This is for parents who don’t give a rat’s ass about their kids and show up whenever the heck they feel like it. We now have to guilt you into getting here on time.
Early or regular dismissal is from 2:40 – 3:00. This applies to parents with ONLY students in elementary. We must limit the number of late car elementary children to only those who have a sibling in intermediate, middle, or high school or to those who carpool with someone with an intermediate, middle, or high school student. That dismissal begins at 3:05 and ends at 3:30. Students at school after 3:30 will be sent to our ABCare program and charged accordingly. You people have too many darn kids, and you have strung their ages out too far apart, and now you are going to pay the price by having to wait. If you dare pick them up late, you will pay even more of a price…with cash.
Late car children will be dismissed to the playground (depending on weather) from 2:30 – 2:50 p.m. and then brought back to the elementary gym for dismissal as they are called. If you are a late car parent, please do not arrive on campus until 3:05. Arriving earlier will cause major traffic problems! 1.) Using exclamation points means we are serious, people! 2.) Our English teachers never taught us that overuse of the exclamation point is very obnoxious!
We do not have the staff to accommodate additional children for late car dismissal who do not qualify based on the above criteria. We know you are paying out the nose for tuition, but it is NOT ENOUGH for all the traffic Nazis needed to do our job correctly.
Please help us keep your children safe by following these guidelines. It’s all about the kids and their safety. It has nothing to do with our desire to control, control, control.
I read this through several times, once with my lips moving, and I still don’t get it. And what’s up with all the labels – late car kids, early car kids, early car parent, late car parent? I’m dialing my therapist just reading this because it makes me feel so bad for all these people being branded based solely upon the ages of their children and the times allotted for their pick up.
The nice man who serves as school crossing guard for my girls every morning is named Chris. It’s just him and his stop sign – no walkie-talkie, no billy club – against a busy public road of traffic, and somehow he seems to get the kids across safely, and all the driving parents pulling into and out of the school from the same said road seem to get in and out every day without major incident along with all of the buses.
However, I have yet to receive a similar email which leads me to conclude that the public school must not care for the safety of my children.
I think I need to write a letter…with lots of exclamation points.