6 Things You Absolutely Should Not Do in the School Pick-Up Line

by Laura Richards September 20, 2016

I have four kids ranging in age from four to 14 so I’ve spent plenty of time in school and camp pickup lines over the years and let me say it’s a front row seat to the sociology of human behavior. Often confounding and insanely annoying human behavior.

Typically the school is pretty organized and efficient about their pickup procedures. My youngest son’s preschool has it down to a science that makes me positively giddy because it’s done so well and I admire efficiency. I profusely thank drive-thru employees who get my order correctly filled down to including napkins and a straw, but I digress.

My son’s preschool pickup line snakes around the school and a teacher stands out there with a two-way radio. As he approaches your car, you hold up a sign that the school provides with your child’s name and teacher and he radios into the school to have your child ready curbside in order of the cars. They let about five cars pull up at a time and I see my son’s cute little face standing there with his teacher ready for pickup. Brilliant! Love it.

But wait. All of the school’s seamless and organized efforts are quashed by the seemingly oblivious and clueless or possibly pathological parents who muck it up.

It always happens.

You can spot a newbie or a grandparent a mile away and you give them a pass once, maybe twice, but it’s the regulars who do the same things every day, over and over and OVER again that make us all want to wring your necks.

So if you don’t want to incur the wrath of up to 20 cars of parents (and probably a crowd of teachers) who are carefully watching your every move, don’t do the following:

1 | Do not start chatting up the teachers or school staff while you have 12+ cars behind you waiting to get their kids.

Email or call them but do not – under any circumstances – start asking them questions about academics, if your child pooped today, how they are getting along with Susie, or anything that requires more than a one-word response. And for the love of God, don’t ask them what they are doing this weekend or details of how their Grandmother’s hip replacement went. No no NO.

2 | Don't decide to change your child’s clothing.

Or, my absolute favorite, do a thorough and complete brush down of your child's feet for about 10 minutes because they are sandy or dirty when the three cars ahead of you have long since left the line and are probably pulling into the Target parking lot or even starting dinner at home. Just don’t.

3 | This is NOT the time to aimlessly and slowly wander around the car and reorganize the trunk, glove box, etc.

You must have some awareness that there are about 20 pairs of eyes watching your every move and our blood pressure is affected. This is where the pathology part comes in similar to the person waiting for your parking space in a crowded parking lot. You know they are there and you have a choice. You can be a jerk and purposely take forever to make them wait because you have control issues and live a sad, pitiful life, or you get out of the spot and do your crap later. Trust me, choose the latter.

4 | A school pick-up line is not the time to teach children independence.

The lesson you are teaching in this circumstance is being considerate of others who are waiting for you, so that means getting a move on. If three-year-old Hunter is hell bent on learning how to buckle his own car seat, that’s great, but this isn’t the right moment or venue. Get it buckled and move on, teach him all of that somewhere else where dozens of folks aren’t being held up by your personal parental teaching moment.

5 | Don't ever, ever, EVER start texting, take, or make a phone call standing at the door of your car.

Get your darned child into his/her car seat as quickly and safely as possible and MOVE OUT OF THE LINE. Pull over to the parking area to do all of that other stuff.

6 | This is no time for slow walking.

Granted you have a child whose legs are as long as a ruler but carry them, have them hustle, do something because sauntering along like you’re searching for shells at the beach isn’t going over well with those of us watching this. You're probably already pegged as the mom or dad who holds up the line and we will find you and glare at you at the school sing along – but wait, you’re probably the one standing blocking our view so you can get it recorded on your phone.

Seriously though, we’re all parents and know that getting a kid from the hands of a teacher or staffer safely into the car along with their backpack is a tall order. BUT we are all doing it and many of us have other children at other locations to pick up or doctor’s appointments to get to or a myriad of other things pressing us for time. So for the love of all things sacred, don’t be THAT parent.

Laura Richards


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