There are many posts bemoaning the woes of the parent pickup line at school. I have to admit–I’m part of the problem. Last year, our carpool stood at four little girls who, despite my best efforts, were always painfully slow to board. I would watch in horror as the cars ahead of me pulled away, making it excruciatingly clear that, yes, it was me holding up the pickup line. And drop off? I always felt that circus music should have been playing as the kids and gear spilled explosively out of all orifices.
This year, we are adding one more kid to the mix, making a grand total of 5 girls in a 3-row midsize SUV in which seats need to be shifted ahead to access the third row. Oy-vay. In a desire to avoid being lambasted by mom bloggers such as those mentioned above, I developed a surefire, guaranteed plan for the pickup line. I’ve called it the Carefully Balanced Pickup Plan (C.B.P.P.), and I include it for your perusal below:
It really looks like a nice, well thought-out plan, doesn’t it? The kids are sorted by size and skill level, with the lollygaggers relegated to later boarding in acknowledgement of their foot-dragging approach to the car. We actually ran a drill several times in the driveway. We had it down. However. First day of pickup, despite my getting out of the car to supervise and repeat instructions in a drill sergeant- like manner, we came in at an embarrassing 1 minute 12 seconds. I know I was getting dirty looks as I returned, sweaty and panicked, to my driver’s seat and peeled away (ALL THE WHILE CAREFULLY FOLLOWING THE POSTED SPEED LIMIT. Sheesh.).
How did this dismal failure in the face of preparation and practice occur? You will note that the success of the C.B.P.P. depends on a number of assumptions. And you know what they say about making assumptions.
Here’s what really happened…
Assumption #1: Participants will enter expeditiously and be on the alert at pickup. 3/5 kids noticed me pull up. The others were distracted by fidget spinners and an invisible butterfly.
Assumption #2: All “stuff” will be easily maneuvered and neatly packed. One carried an art project apparently involving the entire contents of a recycling bin. Another one had a cupcake, the least maneuverable and most despised birthday treat of all.
Assumption #3: Snow gear will miraculously fit in trunk. This hasn’t happened yet, but the fact that the kids are asked to stow their gear in those insane giant Ziploc bags makes it highly unlikely.
Assumption #4: 3rd row occupants will nicely pull 2nd row seats into position. One of the third row occupants has a younger sister in the second row that needed to be teased rather than assisted. The other third row occupant claimed to be unable to use her arms after a mysterious playground incident.
Assumption #5: 2nd row occupants will easily buckle up. Have you seen how exhausted new kindergartners are after a full day of school? Even I have to admit that this was asking too much.
Assumption #6: 1st row occupants will not be distracted by the radio. I was distracted by the fact that I’d accidentally left the audio version of the fifth Outlander book playing (highly recommended, not exactly suitable for children…). Natalie was distracted by the need of all preteens to immediately reset the radio at all times.
Assumption #7: All complaints and commentary will be held until disembarkation. The following conversations continued despite instructions to focus on entering the vehicle: who I sat by at lunch, who vomited during lunch, who was getting yelled at in the pickup line, can I go to Kayla’s house, can we have a smoothie, and I call dibs on the bathroom when we get home. This was just one kid.
Assumption #8: Participants will not attempt to circumvent the C.B.P.P.