by Jim Lord, volunteer parent
(This is a little tongue in cheek. But just a little.)
These rules are in place to keep your child safe, everyone else’s child safe, teachers and volunteers safe, and to get approximately 350 cars through the line in the 30 minutes we have allotted. It takes right at 2 minutes to do one “pass”. That means we need 24 cars to go through in every pass in order to make it work in time. Our line will fit between 22 to 25 cars, depending on the type and amount of space between each one. You see the issue. Math…
We have two parts of the line:
- The approach - The entrance off of Riverwood Farms that goes southbound, where the school is on your driver’s side. This is where you prepare to exit.
- The drop-off - The part directly in front of the school after you’ve made the u-turn and are headed north. The school is now on your passenger side. This is when kids exit.
The first rule of the car line is that it’s my line. I own it. I take the responsibility very seriously and I will guard your child’s life like a papa bear. You want to own it? Park and join us.
The second first rule of the car line is stay off of your phones, whether texting or calling, for the entire 2 minutes you will be in the drop-off lane. Yes, even after you’ve dropped your child off. Children are unpredictable, and someone may dart out after a windblown paper – or a bug. A parent in front of you may suddenly realize their child forgot their backpack in the car and stop. While we are terribly concerned about your car, we’re more concerned about the children’s safety and getting them into the school on time. You’ve just ruined that option for many children by having a wreck in my line. Heaven forbid that wreck includes someone’s kid. While you’re at it, you might want to stay off texting/calling in the approach line as well, but that’s all about you and your insurance company.
Use the approach lane wisely. Feel free to use any or all of the following phrases while in the approach lane so that your child is prepared to quickly get out of the car in the drop-off lane.
- “Honey, go ahead and get your backpack on.”
- “Finish up that breakfast burrito.”
- “I said please put your shoes back on. We’re at the school.”
- “Here are the papers I should have signed and put in your backpack last night, but forgot until we were running out the door. And here is your pencil back.”
- “Do you have your lunch box?”
- “Do you know where you are going after school today?”
- “Everything zipped up and ready to go?”
- “I love you! Can’t wait to hear about your day!”
Note that with the exception of the last one, these lines are not the kinds of things we say after stopping in the drop-off line. It’s too late at that point. It needs to be; pull up, stop, door opens, “I love you! Can’t wait to hear about your day!”, child(ren) exit(s), door closes, car leaves.
If you are the front car, pull all the way up to where you are directed. This may be all the way up to the stop sign after the curve back to the approach lane. Don’t be “that guy” who stops at the front door so your child doesn’t have to walk. The rest of this pass is on your shoulders; make us proud.
If you are not the front car, pull all the way up to the car in front of you. Don’t leave a half-car gap. Your 3rd grader will tell you that 10 half-car gaps equals 5 full car lengths. If they appear to not be following this rule with regard to the car in front of them and they begin to stop, give them time. Someone will hopefully direct them forward, and then you can continue on behind them. Do not try to take advantage of this slowdown to quickly let little Suzy out. The cars behind you, that can’t see that big gap ahead, will start to release their children, and we’ve just messed up that pass.
If you arrive early and are the very first pass in the drop-off lane, DO NOT let your child out until 7:45. Hopefully that will align with the exact moment our cadre of teachers and volunteers exits the building like the slow motion astronaut walk in The Right Stuff. You may see students known as “walkers” walking up the sidewalk and standing at the door. Ideally, they are supposed to arrive at 7:45 also. But this isn’t about them. This is about us. If you let your child out, there are no staff or volunteers to supervise their exit. You now pull around because the person in front of you didn’t have their child exit. The car in front of them starts to pull around as well. Some cars follow the rules, others don’t. Gaps are created in the line. Other people try to pull past the parked cars to take their own place further up in the line. It takes two more passes to finally correct everything and get back to perfection. Just please wait.
When you pull up to the appropriate place, and you no longer see teachers waving their arms like dysfunctional robots, it’s time for your child to do the exit thing discussed earlier. Don’t wait to get closer. If you don’t let out, and cars behind you let out, when you finally do stop, they will be forced to go around you. Then you will all have to re-merge before turning right. It’s not pretty and can lead to heart rate increases all around. If you arrive at your drop-off point and some catastrophe has occurred (chocolate milk explosion, separation anxiety for either or both of you, can’t find the backpack – DIDYOULEAVEITATTHEHOUSEAGAIN?!?!?! – , whatever) then go ahead and pull forward, and you might even have to park. Please refrain from doing this unless absolutely necessary (see the following section about parking in front of the school.)
Do not park in front of the school. Just don’t. If you park in front of the school, then you’ll have to back out. In order to back out, you will probably need to get into the center lane where we are trying to fill the drop-off line with cars. If you interrupt my flow, some kids aren’t going to make it into the school on time. If you need to park (with the extremely rare exception from above) you should use the lot on the side of the school. Instead of u-turning from the approach lane to the drop-off lane, continue straight through to the side lot. If there are cones, you may either drive around them, ask someone there to move them, or get out and move them yourself. Please do not run over them.
Have your child exit the car themselves, on the passenger side. This might mean rearranging your normal seating arrangement in your car. We don’t want kids exiting the driver side, where cars sometimes decide to go around, and we don’t want parents exiting, assisting kids, getting back in cars, all while the cars behind them have properly ejected their children and are contemplating pulling around. No good comes from this.
Also, don’t wait for a teacher/volunteer to open your child’s door. We often do, for the cars directly in front of us, because we’re nice. But not that nice. Just nice enough for the car right in front of us. Today might be your day. Might be tomorrow. But seriously, we don’t have the time or volunteers to open every door. If for some reason, your child locks are on, please roll a window down and signal for help, and we will be happy to do so. If your child is old enough, please consider taking the child lock off. It may help to practice the gathering of backpacks, saying goodbyes, and exiting the car (with the requisite closing of the door) at home. If you drive a two-door, and your child is in the back seat, consider using the time when make that last stop in the approach lane to have them climb into the front seat.
Check the weather. It rains. Please – either get a small umbrella for your child, have a plastic bag or parka, or let them know that they need water to grow into the beautiful flowers that they are. We can’t walk every child down the sidewalk, but we often will try if we can. Our first responsibility is to the kids getting out of cars safely. Whatever you do, please don’t stop short so your child doesn’t have to walk in the rain. If just 10 people decide to do that, the last cars won’t be able to drop off their children until around 8:40. Those parents will be late to work. Imagine how you’d feel if other people did that to you just so their child would get “less wet.”
If you pull in after 8:15, by the universal time on all of our phones, not the the never-ever-correct tower clock, you will need to park and sign your child in. If you’re in the line at 8:15, we usually let that go. If there’s a line in the approach at 8:15, and we see you pull up at 8:16, you still have to park and sign in. We are letting the people in front of you drop off because they were here on time, but were the recipients of someone else not caring enough to follow the rules. Don’t get mad at us for you being late. We’ve been late, too. We parked and signed our child in.
Now, a few personal observations as a 5-yr parent volunteer:
Please don’t roll your window down and yell at your child all the way down the sidewalk. It kills them. The most embarrassing thing you could do to a child in front of friends. And, you’ve ruined any chance of learning for most of the morning.
Be just a little patient with the person in front of you. Often, if you will wait about 10 more seconds, they will be on their way and you won’t need to go around them.
Be kind to the staff and volunteers. Be kinder and join in once in a while.
We’re all just trying to get our kids to school and get ourselves to work. Let’s work together.
Get off your dang phone. You’re threatening “my kids.”