PSA from the pickup lane: It’s cool to carpool

A letter was sent home from my daughter’s school today, reminding us parents, grandparents and guardians how to safely drop off and pick up students.

It contained (I kid you not) such mind-blowing tips as “park only in the parking lot,” “don’t stop in the emergency vehicle zone” and “do not have your student walk out into moving traffic.” The only thing more ridiculously frustrating than receiving such a letter is witnessing firsthand the morning drop-off traffic circus that necessitates one.

Moms across the country and around the world can agree: Mornings are rough. And until technology allows us to teleport our kids to class, those of us who drive are going to have to deal with the headaches of the school drop-off lane.

Our oldest started kindergarten in 2002, so I’ve pretty much seen it all – from the aggravating to the inconsiderate to the downright unsafe. From the pushy parents who whip their blazingly large SUVs to the front of the line to dawdling dads who, immersed in their iPhones, hold up the flow of traffic, it’s enough to turn even the sanest of drivers into a hair-pulling, horn-honking rage-aholic. And that’s even after I’ve had my morning coffee.

Our school district does a good job of posting “one-way” and “loading zone only” signs; the parents just do an even better job of ignoring them. I once got ready to curse a blue streak at a driver who was trying to exit through what was clearly marked “entrance only.” When I flagged him down (he was quite elderly), he apologized, saying this was his first day dropping off his grandson.

Maybe I need more perspective. Maybe that woman screeching into the parking lot on two wheels is late for a job interview. Or a chemotherapy appointment. Maybe that father blocking the exit is in the middle of a custody dispute and, having just dropped off his kids, won’t see them for two weeks. You never really know what’s going on in another person’s life, or minivan, unless you’ve sat behind the wheel. Maybe I can set a better example for my kids by exercising patience and restraint myself.

I’m lucky to be able to drive my kids to school in a district that doesn’t require metal detectors at the entrances. As there are families in this city who live in their vehicles, we should be so grateful as to use our cars just as cars – not as temporary housing. But do you know what would help ease the traffic burden at schools? Fewer vehicles! Make friends with your neighbors who also have kids at your school and share the driving; it’s made all the difference for my neighborhood. And my sanity.

So the next time you’re about to go ballistic in the carpool lane, take a breath. Because the school drop-off lane is torture, but do you know what follows this stage of life? Gulp. Driver’s ed.

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