The Ten Commandments of School Drop-Off and Pick-Up

By Jen Holman

Ten Commandments of the Drop-Off Line
 

Lo, I am a mom, and thy friend, and have brought these commandments from the land of school drop-offs and pick-ups. Do these things in remembrance of me, and as common courtesy to your brothers and sisters in parenthood. If ye will but exercise these simple and courteous practices, the sanctity of parenthood and the sanity of all mankind may be preserved. So let it be written. So let it be done. 

I. THOU SHALT PREPARE THYSELF AND THY CHILDREN BEFORE DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP
You’ve seen this. Maybe you’ve even been the guilty party. Parents get all the way from home to school, and remember to put backpacks and—lord, help me—shoes on right in front of the school entrance, holding up everyone in line behind them. A friend says she starts 10 blocks away to ensure this doesn’t happen. “Put your shoes back on. Get your backpacks in your hands. Everyone, look alive!”

And what about those pick-up violators who forget to clear the kid’s seat out, turning around in their own chair to clear a path while the poor kid waits in shame outside the car. Tiny Baby Jesus, help us not to curse them.

II. THOU SHALT EXPLAIN DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP PROTOCOL TO THY BABY DADDY
I have kiddos at two separate schools. I don’t know about you, but in my humble experience, when there’s a problem in the drop-off or pick-up line, chances are it’s a person of the male persuasion. For the systems to work, we must all follow the rules. Even the dads.

III. THOU SHALT RESPECT THOSE WHO GOT OUT OF BED AND INTO LINE BEFORE YOU
My 3-year-old knows there’s no cutting in line. Why is this concept so hard to understand? Is some people’s time more valuable than others? Is it acceptable to stalk side streets and swoop in front of someone just because you can? Is it OK if you’re super late for work? The answer is no—never.

IV. REMEMBER PROTOCOL AND KEEP IT HOLY
As a general rule, school administrators are smart people with good intentions. It’s likely they came up with drop-off and pick-up guidelines after years of experience. They’ve seen it all. They’re trying to protect our children’s safety while getting everyone to class on time. If rules exist there’s probably a good reason. We should follow them.

V. HONOR THE LAW AND THOU CHILDREN’S LIVES. PUT DOWN THY CELL PHONE.
Despite signs posted conspicuously throughout school drives saying “School Zone. No Cell Phone Use,” we’re still chatting and texting as we drive toward the crowded nuclei of our children. Maybe if we stayed off our phones, we’d be better prepared for drop-off and pick-up. 

VI. THOU SHALT NOT CONDUCT SOCIAL TIME IN THE DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP LINE
But, we went to college together and she’s expecting her first baby. And, my son finally grasped that math concept his teacher’s been working on with him for weeks—I have to tell her. Every quick comment or summarized conversation we have with the teachers or staff that are outside facilitating drop-off and pick-up puts the parents behind us that much farther behind.

VII. THOU SHALT USE THINE OWN EYES AS WELL AS STUDENT CROSSING GUARD INSTRUCTION
Older students sometimes serve as crossing guards, and while they receive extensive training and wear the smartest little orange and yellow reflective jackets...they’re still kids. Their synapses aren’t fully formed and their brain-to-hand reflexes are wonky. It’s a good idea to keep your eye on the crosswalk as well as their flashing wands.

VIII. THOU SHALT NOT DOUBLE PARK
This happened to me last year. I was in the pick-up line, waiting my turn and dying to text someone, when the car in front of me moved forward. I did, too. Thankfully, I moved slowly because a parent had pulled up to my left side and stopped, waiting for his kid who ran in front of my car to hop into his.

IX. THOU SHALT NEVER EXIT THY CAR, FOR SUCH FOOLISHNESS SMITES NATURAL ORDER
The blasphemy of school drop-off and pick-up, getting out of a vehicle while in line, is the worst of sins. What may seem like one super quick hug of a baby growing up too fast, getting out of and back into the car sends the whole system out of whack. If the need for one last squeeze is so great we can’t contain it, pull out of line, park and walk them inside.

X. THOU SHALT EXIT THE DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP LINE WITH EXPEDIENCY
You did it! You dropped off your precious cargo. Now is not the time to check your phone. Keep going so the people behind you can exit, too. And though it pains us to wait, the pick-up line isn’t the time to see our babies’ brilliant marble art. Amiright? We have a rule that backpacks stay closed until we get home. It helps not lose things, too. 

Jen Holman is often irreverent and frequently imperfect. But she’s happy, by God, and that’s what matters. She lives in Little Rock with her husband and three children, striking that delicate balance between inspiration and frustration. Jen has published three novels under the pen name Jen Crane, the second of which was selected by iTunes/iBooks as “Our Pick” in fantasy sci-fi.