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How to Have a Happy School Drop Off and Pickup in 10 Easy Steps

The privileged person’s guide to school drop-off. (Note: Don’t worry, none of the “rules” actually apply to you.)


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School drop off and pickup is easy…well, as long as you go in with the right mind-set. First, remember that your children are more important than anyone else’s. Second, remember that wherever you’re going  after drop-off/pick-up, you clearly need to get there more urgently than the other parents. Everyone in the car line and parking lot knows it, too. They will totally understand your special situation and gladly make the necessary accommodations. If you follow these 10 easy steps, the parking lot will be your playground.

1. Think of crossing guards as suggestion-makers. Their signals translate to things like, “you should perhaps consider stopping or, at least slowing down, because there is some risk that you may run over a group of small children.” But you’re a REALLY GOOD driver and will definitely avoid hitting most of them, so I wouldn’t worry about it. You are in a rush!

2a. When you pull into a spot, however you parked is perfect. If you’re over hogging two spots, I’m sure a tiny smart car or motorcycle with car seats for the kids will pull in right behind you. There will definitely be enough room for someone.

2b. But if you do want to take your time parking -- go for it!,  You should probably back in multiple times to make sure you are a perfect 3.5 inches from the curb. That line of cars forming behind you? They’re just enjoying watching The Master in action. Wait. No. Just once more back and forth, evenly spaced between the lines. Better get out a ruler to measure. You got it. You are good!

3. The parking lot is crowded and accidents happen. If you nudge, bump or slam into another car, don’t worry about it. Don’t leave a note or, if the other parent is still in the car when it happens, definitely don’t apologize to him or her. Getting rear-ended is one of the the risks of parking in a parking lot. The “aggrieved” parent has no cause for complaint. It’s like stepping onto a football field and whining that someone smacked you with a 2x4. It’s all part of the fun!

4. A lot of parking lots have arrows signifying the direction in which cars are meant to travel. Ha! Take the shortest route possible to any potential spots. The arrows, like those silly crossing guards, are traffic suggestions for lesser drivers with regular children and nothing to do all day. Not for special people like you!  If you want to be a stickler for the rules – and show your children that sometimes authority and common decency should be respected - drive in reverse. That way, your car is still facing in the direction of the arrow.

5. You should have your own reserved spot, but for some reason you don’t. If there are no spaces left, don’t even think about parking down the street. Why would you walk a block? That’s why you drove. Besides, you don’t need The Man telling you where to park. Make your own spot! Teach your children how to use their creativity and think outside the box. My god, you’re a great parent!

6. Even if there are plenty of spots available, you should still just go ahead and park anywhere your car “fits.” Even if that means blocking a fire lane to get two steps closer to the school. It’s really thoughtful to leave those actual-parking-spots-that-are-clearly-still-there open for other parents.

7. In the morning, try to make sure those open spots stay open as long as possible by blocking as much of the parking lot entrance as your car will allow. Hopefully, you drive a bright yellow Hummer. What am I saying? Of course you do!

8. If you double park or stop in front of the gate (with your hazard lights on, of course, because it would be rude not to put on your hazards), make sure to yell at the drivers for not being able to get through. What is wrong with those friggin’ idiots? Don’t they know how to drive AROUND me?!?

9. In the afternoon, feel free to park in the teachers’ lot. You will need to double park and will probably prevent them from leaving after an exhausting day of work. But after they curse your name and threaten to call the cops to have your car towed, they will respect you more as a parent and appreciate your kindness. Teachers view time with your kids as payment. By forcing them to stay at the school another five or ten minutes, it’s like you’re giving them a bonus! You’ll probably get a bunch of thank you notes in the mail and definitely no rotten eggs thrown at your house.

10. School drop-off and pickup is YOU time. Enjoy it!

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