Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Schooled in the School Parking Lot

It's that time of week again. Tuesday Tirade and I am, unsurprisingly, talking school trash, again.

Before I had a child old enough to attend school I used to daydream about having a kid old enough to be in school.

We'd get up in the morning with ease, after all, it wasn't like she hadn't been getting up two hours before I wanted to for years or anything... I'd make a hot breakfast to start her day off right, pack a well-balanced, nutritious lunch, then she'd shoulder her adorable, but not so heavy as to be unhealthy, backpack and we'd stroll down the street to the neighborhood cut through to avoid the car traffic at the school and I, smiling, would hand her over to the person who would take care of her for the next 7 hours while mournfully walking home alone, my duty done til 3pm.

(pausing to allow those of you bent double with laughter time to recover)

The reality is a little different. Okay, a LOT different. For starters, she doesn't go to the neighborhood school. I tried to get her into Pre-K at a charter school (not that I was attempting to shuffle her off to school a year early or anything) and didn't make it.

Then RaidMan made friends with a local guy who told him horror stories about our schools--you know, the schools we'd moved out of Austin to get to? Yea.

We got word, shortly after that, that J's name had come up in the lottery at the Charter School. I liked their numbers (max class size of 16) and dh liked that they weren't the "scary 'hood school" Whatever. I've heard nothing but good about the primary, elementary, and high school. The junior high has been dissed, but, well, it's only 3 years, right? Right?

So we enrolled her there and discovered the joy of taking one of 700 enrolled students to a school with no bus service. How I envied the parents off-loading four kids in the morning--at least they were getting their wait's worth out of it!

Year two of school and J's school expands massively, taking over a school that was previously church-affiliated and hit financial hard times. Woo-hoo, parking!

Not so much. The way the new administration handles morning drop-off is not the same as the way the old one did.

For most of last school year the carryover parents just did the way they always had: Stopping in the middle of the aisle & blocking traffic while they released their kids into the wild, sometimes even getting out of the car to help them with bags or projects. Did I mention this was in the middle of the friggin' parking lot driving lane?

Then these kids were left to find their own way from parking lot to class on a busy open air campus. Yea, cuz that's safe *snort*

My own personal issue, though, I've saved for last.

Just because ~your~ kid is safely in the school does NOT mean you get to drive like MY KID is a traffic cone!

Parents who drop their kids and seem to immediately perceive the parking lot as a road-rage video game drive me mad! (no pun intended, this time) The parking lot, because it was built by the church, has multiple entry points and the school has not enforced any kind of traffic flow standard. There's a whole lot of going in through the out driveway, people coming from all angles, paying little or no attention to the world around them.

Looking from across the street while I decide which driveway is less likely to get me killed, it kind of looks like oversize bumper cars, or a scarily coordinated synchronized event. You know, one where all the participants are precise fractions of seconds away from crashing into each other.

You can always tell the cars that still have kids in them, too. They are between the lines, there is no rubber smoke billowing out of their wheel wells. The drivers, while harried looking trying to make that first bell, are polite. They park far enough away that you can get in and out of your car.

Mom or dad alone? (I hate to say it guys, but Dads definitely seem to be worse about this!) You'd better not leave your car door open too long getting in or you might lose it when they back out of there like a bat outta hell. Actually, I'm pretty sure some of them can drive faster in reverse than a bat can fly...

This is, apparently, a problem for any school that has anything other than a narrow 1 or 2 lane driveway, so I know I'm not alone.

To all you frustrated race car drivers who drop kids at my girl's school:

Would you kick the ass of someone who endangered your kid in the school parking lot? So would I. Remember that the next time you drive around me like I'm a speed bump, or I may be forced to prove it.

PS - anyone know any handy tips re: assault laws in Texas? kthanxbai!


Candy said...

Geez, you make our public school drop off seem easy. We pull up and one of 5 fifth graders, opens the door, the kids get out, the fifth graders wishes us a good day and we drive off. I could walk them up if I could stand the smiling teachers that early in the morning. LOL. For pick up, we park on the same block and walk up to get them (the car line takes too long - I'm impatient). If I weren't super lazy, I could walk them to and from school. But I'm super lazy. LOL

My rant? I have this client that drives me completely freaking crazy. I send him stuff and he approves it but he doesn't actually look at it. To top it off, I SEND HIM THE FREAKING PAPERWORK. He sends it back. Did he look at it? No. But he wants it on paper even though I've told him I have it paperless and will email it. But he doesn't look at it and then asks me questions when I mention something THAT HE SHOULD KNOW.

It is not my business. It is HIS business. I do not get paid enough to babysit his ass. It's not my in job description and I really freaking sick and really freaking tired of sending him stuff that he doesn't look at it! It's a WASTE OF MY TIME. (see rant last week).

I just hate people. The 3 of us need to buy a deserted island and move there (with internet, of course).

Jenny said...

I'm with ya (and I'm Jenny, from Austin Moms, following people stalker-like around the internet!). My kids aren't in school yet but I offered to pick up my nieces and nephew from school last week figuring it would be a breeze! You just drive up, sit in the line, they put the kids in the car, and we go home, right? WRONG! I drive through what seemed to be a car line, a rather mean woman tells me that I'm in the wrong line and seems annoyed at my puzzled look. THERE WAS ONLY ONE LINE. She told me to go park and drag my two children from the car and walk around back to a courtyard that I could never find. I finally found the kids after I called their mom and had her call the school! Geez.

I had a rant, now I have a headache and a screaming baby, which pretty much sums up my day. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

I don't have children, so I don't get to play in the pickup line very often. I do have a nephew in elementary school whom I've picked up a few times, but the system at his school is very different.

It's a public school, and I'd say probably 90% of the students ride the bus. When the students are released, the kids that don't ride the bus all go to the library. Parents/guardians come in and wait in the lobby until pickup begins, then line up to sign in. If the office staff who man the table don't recognize you, you have to show a picture ID. Once you've signed in, you're allowed into the library, where the librarian is waiting at the desk - you tell him who you are picking up and show your ID, and he confirms, through the school's computer system, that you are authorized to pick up that student. (If you're a regular, he doesn't have to.) If you're not on the list of people approved to pick up the child, you must have a signed note, and he calls a parent/guardian to confirm.

Once everything is verified, you're given a color-coded card that indicates how many students you're picking up (and possibly other information, I'm not sure exactly what all the colors mean). He calls your student(s) name - they've usually already seen you & are waiting - and they come up and meet you. When you get to the out door (in is on one end, out on the other) there is a staff member waiting who collects your card and in the process confirms that you're only taking the number of students you were verified to pick up.

It sounds like a long, convoluted process, but it's actually rather quick - the longest part is waiting for school to actually be dismissed and pickup to begin. Even if they have to verify everything (which is usually the case for me, since I'm rarely the one who picks him up), it takes maybe 2-3 minutes at the most from the time you get to the table and sign/show your ID until they call them up for you to go. And, because they do it one-by-one, the parking lot traffic is much more distributed, and you don't have to duck-and-cover just to get to your car.

As for mine, I don't really have a rant this week - I'll have to work on that.