Chaos in the car line at an elementary school is not pretty.
It was I, the same person who spews bad words and insults the intelligence of those who don’t understand the rules of four-way stop signs who caused car line problems.
In my defense, I usually walk my kindergartener home from school. From my vantage point I’ve watched the car line move smoothly for a month thanks to the school staff and safety patrols. Add to that my previous experience at preschool car line, and one would assume from my impressive resume that I’d be able to handle the job.
As directed by the schooI handbook, I arrived early with the official car rider name plate completed in Sharpied, all caps and displayed prominently in my vehicle. When the vice principal announced each child’s name over the PA system whose ride was waiting, I heard him say my son’s name.
Children exited school and entered cars. My son wasn’t one of them. I was holding up the line.
All of the fifth-grade safety patrols stationed throughout the half circle beckoned wildly for me to pull forward, as I imagined them giving me side eye and shaking their heads. (I was also a safety patrol back in the day. We were so safe we literally wore hard hats to complement our florescent sashes. You would think my alumna status would give me some street cred.) So I drove, minivan door agape. Stopping at the final safety patrol’s station (and holding up the line again), I informed her that my son must be confused because he always walks home.
The vice principal came to the rescue, asking if I had written a note that my usual walker would be a car rider today.
“Um. No. Was I supposed to?” I replied weakly.
Apparently so. As I slinked into a parking space as smoothly as my mom-mobile would allow, I spotted my son standing on the hill in our usual after school meeting place. I ran as fast as my former safety patrol legs would carry me between two vehicles currently in the carline.
And was admonished to use the crosswalk by a safety patrol.
“Sorry! I’m new here,” I explained.
More shaking of fifth grade heads.
“Your van door is open,” another one informed me.
So to my fellow car line parents, please forgive me. I’m now schooled on car line formalities. As atonement for my transgressions, I will begin mumbling obscenities instead of screaming them the next time someone doesn’t adhere to four-way stop rules.
This piece originally appeared in the October 31, 2012 edition of The Fort Mill Times.