Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Am The Car Lane Jackhole

School pick up and drop off are never, ever fun for me.  Even if it means getting the kids out of the house after a long winter break where they have been fighting with each other since the moment I picked them up at the start of break, I still don't look forward to taking them back.  It isn't just because I will miss them, which I will, but it's because I hate the actual pick up drop off process immensely  and it causes me great anxiety.
The school, which I am slowly learning to love, is a pretty good about most things, but they are very particular about pickup and drop off.  They want any parent not using the bus to use the car rider lane for pickup and drop off, and they strongly discourage walking your child in or personally picking your child up unless there is a special reason to do so.  We get notes about it all the time.  We are not even allowed down the halls in the morning.  We are to go no where near the class rooms.  They say it is all for safety reasons.
Ok.  I can live with that idea, though I'm not exactly sure how letting the kids go by themselves, without adult supervision, is much safer, but I am trying to get with the program.  I think for the most part, it is just a huge change from CA schools, and I'm not handling the change too well.  In CA, the schools were outdoor schools, more like shopping malls with no interior hall ways, and you just walked right up to the classroom door.  Here, the school is much more traditional with a main entryway, then hallways going left right, or to the back.  Also, the parking lot is honestly terrible.  You park on a lower level and have to walk across the road (the pickup/drop lane really not so much a real road) to get into the school.  So in that regard, it is much safer to just drop them off than walk through all the cars trying to drop off in the mornings.

Regardless, I hate it.

Aside from it being different, the reason that I hate it would be that we suck at the process.  We do.  I know it may sound odd to say that I suck at dropping my kids off at school, but trust me, we do.
I am that parent who always, nearly every single day, holds up the line, doesn't move when the other cars do, etc.  I screw up the whole thing.  Even the crossing guard lady gets confused and irritated with me sometimes.  She has to hold the walkers crossing the lane while the cars move, but I take so long, she starts letting them through, but just as soon as she has given up on me, and starts letting them through, I'm ready to move, and now were all holding up the line of traffic.  Yes.  It's like that nearly every single morning.  The only hope I have of not screwing up traffic is to be in the back of the line, giving me more time before all the other cars go.
I know you must think I'm nuts, I mean, how long can it take to get the kids out.  Currently, all of The Girls are in some sort of car seat or booster.  Even The Biggest One, at 9, has yet to hit the hundred pound limit of her booster.  So, I make her sit in it.  It is safer, until she outgrows it.  Middie is a in an extended use 5-point harness, which she still can't buckle on her own.  Of course, The Littlest One is still rear facing at 21 months, now that the official recommendation from the American Pediatric Board is a two year minimum, in a 5-point harness, which she will keep for a long time yet.
So, how does having kids in seats that make us suck?  We are the only parents who do that, as far as I can tell.  Middie, in all honestly, usually can buckle her self, unless she is wearing a coat (No discussions about coats and car seats now, thanks.  I'll be glad to post about that later.)  The problem here is that she is super, duper, maddeningly slow.  The kid moves at a crawl.  Two years ago, I gave her The Pokey Little Puppy for Christmas because I tell her all the time she is my Pokey Little Puppy.  This year, I got her The Pokey Little Puppy's Christmas.  You may note that means the theme lasted for more than a year, as she has always been, and will probably always be the slowest kid ever.  She just can't do quickly.  She dawdles.  You get it.  So, getting her out of the car, or into it is painful.  Someone has to assist to get the process moving, or she won't move.  Right now, we have a system down.  As we are shifting in to the drop off position, I tell the girls to get ready.  On the word "Go", The Biggest One unbuckles, opens her door, jumps out, runs around the front of the truck to her sister's side.  While she is running around, I unbuckle, turn behind me, and unbuckle Middie.  We get her arms out of the straps, too.  By this time, The Biggest One gets her door open, and grabs Middie's back pack, so it won't be in the way or an issue.  Trust me, if I let Middie get her own backpack, we would be there until lunch time every single day.
This is generally the point that I realize break lights are going off in front of me, and the line is getting ready to move.  I start yelling "Go! Go! Go!"  Middie takes a moment to stand, get her grip on the truck, and finally, jumps out. At this point, The Biggest One starts yelling, "The Door!  Shut the door!" as Middie has yet to do so.  It takes a moment, but she eventually gets it shut.  The Biggest One starts handing over the backpack.  I do not allow Middie to put the backpack on for the sake of time.  She must simply hold it by a strap until she is near in the front doors of the school, if there is time.  If not, she can carry it like that to class.  That saves several minutes.  Once the hand over is made, they clear the the car, and I can see them both on the sidewalk, I can start rolling.
If we are at the very back of the line, I make it just in time sometimes.  If not, I screw everything up.  I'm sure there are parents yelling at me.  Always.
Pick up is a little better.  We are in a double line for that, with a sign that has our child's name on it in the windshield.  Someone comes walking down the middle of the rows, calling out names for each car.  As soon as they call The Big Girls, I unlock the doors, jump out, run around, and wait on Middie.  The Biggest One always gets to the car and gets in quickly. As soon as I see Middie sort of plodding her way toward me, I start yelling "Backpack off!  Backpack off!"  Sometimes she has it slid off so that I can grab it when she gets to me, sometimes she doesn't and I have to slide it off as quickly as I can.  Her door is already open.  I pick her up, put her in, strap her in as fast as possible, and run back around to the driver's door.  I jump in and a immediately put the car in drive so that I can roll while I buckle myself up.  WE don't usually hold up the line as badly this way, unless of course Middies doesn't hear her name, and she has to be called twice, or I am the first or second car in my row.  The bad thing here is that I'm not just holding up a few cars in one line, like in the morning.  They won't get any other kids started until both lanes have finished moving all the loaded kids out, and have empty cars.  So, if we take too long, I'm holding up like 16 cars or a so at a time, plus all the people waiting behind them.  Its awesome.

I have to wonder how many times I have gotten the finger, been called ugly names by people running late for work, etc.  I;m sure it happens.  I don't, though, ever get mad.  On the off chance that one of them has a bad day, and holds up the line, I just go wit the flow and totally get it.

I don't expect this to change for a while, either.  I don't plan on changing the car seat situation in our car anytime soon.  I'm happiest when they are safest, regardless and what other, possibly finger waving, people in in front of or behind may think.