Monday, September 20, 2010

Make the pickup line easy

Is this a familiar scene? It might be, if your child’s school has a dropoff/pickup line for drivers. One mother we know adores hers—she sits in the luxury of her driver’s seat while her son’s teacher escorts him to the car and even straps him into his booster seat.

However, a quick Google search reveals that the dropoff/pickup line can be the bane of some parents’ existence—if it’s plagued by other drivers who are “unclear on the concept” of how it works (as one blogger writes.)

It’s tempting just to complain about other clueless parents, but the truth is that we’ve all made (sometimes embarrassingly) simple mistakes. You can do your part to keep the dropoff/pickup line running safely and smoothly:

Follow the rules.
Your school likely issued the rules of the line, told you exactly where to stop to leave and fetch your kids, and possibly even provided a map of the layout. Keep this information in your car. If you spontaneously forget all of this information, drive slowly, note what other drivers are doing, and follow the road signs and lane markers.

You are in a car. If you were driving down the road, you probably would not stop suddenly, open your door, and step outside to wave down your child or chat with another parent. Likewise, you probably would not weave in and out of different lanes (we hope!). And you certainly would not be speeding, right? The rules of the road apply to the dropoff/pickup lane, too.

Put down the phone. It makes sense just for safety’s sake—this is a child-filled environment, after all. And besides, getting into an involved conversation is not conducive to paying attention to the road, when it’s your turn to move, and whether your child is standing a few yards away from your car, wondering what’s taking so long.

Minimize other distractions.
That novel you can’t put down, the magazine you just got in the mail, the new CD you sing along with at top volume when your children aren’t looking—all of these absorbing things can lead to you holding up the line.

Stay awake. This might sound strange, but we’ve heard of drivers falling asleep in the line!

Be patient. Someone in front too poky? This is not the ideal place to honk. If you find yourself irritated with the behavior of another driver, remember that it might be a grandparent or another substitute driver who may not be familiar with the rules. However, if you see a “repeat offender” behaving poorly, take your concern to a schoolteacher or administrator (and try to stay positive as you describe the incident).

Take some deep breaths.
Maybe you’ve had a rotten day; maybe you’re stressed out. But you can turn things around starting now, when you welcome your child to the car with a smile.

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