So, I remember how what seemed like a few weeks ago I was jonesing for summer. It was still spring, and I *needed* to get over that season changeover hump and put myself solidly in flip-flop, beach, and waterpark weather. I am a mere shell of myself when it’s gray and dismal and 30 degrees but throw me in the sun with a blanket of 100% humidity around my shoulders and I’m solid.
Except yesterday I went back to school shopping. And a few minutes ago I was reading through the emails from school about teacher assignments and car rider line. What happened to my summer? It’s buried beneath the bags of pencils and expo markers and tissues and hand sanitizer. Can you feel my tears flowing through my fingers into this post? It’s not that I don’t enjoy structure and occupied kids. It’s just that I enjoy lack of structure and adventure more.
Anyway, back to my emails. Car rider line. I know most schools do this. It makes it a lot easier (supposedly) for drop off and pick up. Morning is always pretty smooth for us. We rush into the line while I simutaneously tell Liam to wipe the breakfast off his face-but not with your sleeve dangit!!!- while trying to avoid eye contact with the perfectly dressed at o-dark-thirty moms and wishing I had put a bra on. We roll right up, I shove, I mean lovingly wave, Liam out the car.
Afternoons are another story. I leave approximately 20 minutes after getting home from dropping him off in order to get a spot in the line that isn’t blocking traffic on the main road. I proceed to sit for 10 hours and overheat my car while my 3 year old cries from having to be woken up early from nap and then tells me he has to pee. Then once school is out we inch forward at about 1 mph for another hour until I reach my kid. Once my door is opened, after all that, I have approximately 0.00004 seconds to get him buckled and drive away.
So how does that work safely? Well, it depends.
Look, I know it stinks to sit. And sit. And sit some more. But I can’t even begin to tell you the sheer number of toddlers and babies I see on mom’s laps in the car line, even when the cars are moving. I see kids hanging out back windows and bopping around the backseat while the driver is browsing her/his phone. But guess what? Not only is that driver on her phone, so is the one behind her. And the one behind him. So what happens when that person is browsing Facebook and forgets they aren’t in park and lets up the brake a little bit when laughing at the meme about car rider lines? They roll into the person in front of them. Guess what happens to that lap baby or front seat monkey toddler? Hopefully just a tumble onto the floor, but you probably would want me to spare you the visual of a small body getting hit point blank with an air bag. Or the 4 year old falling head first onto the pavement from an SUV window when leaning out and mom lets off the brake a bit to inch forward. These aren’t freak accidents. These are situations that could easily happen. It might mean you need more wine later that night or you need to put the Moana soundtrack on repeat. Maybe you need to give into the no snacks in the car rule and bust out the Cheerios. Whatever it takes but PLEASE, keep your children buckled when in the car rider line. This includes your student until you have pulled up to the drop off point and they are ready to get out.
So what about the rush after you pick them up? I don’t know about your school but the pressure IS ON after Liam’s feet hit the floorboards. He’s in a booster this year and can get buckled quickly. Earlier this year I had to get out and run (all the more reason to wear a bra!) over to his side to buckle him. Fortunately his school supports “no one moves till everyone is buckled” but it doesn’t mean it’s not stressful, especially if you have more than one kid to buckle up. But I think we can all agree that we love each others’ kids and want whats best for all of them, even if that means waiting an extra minute for the mom in front of us to buckle her twins. Solidarity ya’ll. It’ll get us through.
So please buckle those kids. Even when it’s annoying and inconvenient. You’ll feel frazzled but I promise you will feel grateful if you’re on the receiving end of a Facebook meme fender bender. That booger and Cheerio covered little face will be peering back at you in your rear view mirror, right where it’s supposed to be.
Now here’s to a few more weeks of summer. May they go quick for you all who are longing for school, and may they be filled with last minute adventures for the summer lovers. Stay safe in all you do!