When I watch parents on TV pick up their children on basically any movie or show, they roll up in their car and the kid hops in. No muss, no fuss, no drama. No waiting on your pokey puppy of a child that would take 30 minutes to wander to the car in real life. No child socializing endlessly just out of arm reach from the passenger door while the mom tries not to lose her cool and scream at the pre-teen in public. No long lines of other parents leaning on the horn for you to get your slow moving turtle-esk children in the car and out of their way so they can get their own pokey puppies and chatty patties.
This is all just an imaginary situation as I don’t get the benefit of the drive-by school pick up. That may, in fact, be a magical made up situation Hollywood uses to taunt us real folks. My kids go to a school where I park my car, drag the cranky toddler along and pick my children up at the door of their class.
I’m five years into this school situation and I’ve come to the conclusion that school pick up is like riding an elevator.
- Trapped. I have an irrational fear of being trapped inside. School was awkward for me the first go-round and I need to get in and out as fast as possible. As soon as the front door closes behind me, it’s a countdown until I step outside to freedom, sweet freedom.
- The stare. We all walk in to our childrens classroom designation like mute zombies, promptly put our back to the wall and face forward towards the classroom door just like you do in an elevator. As a unit, we all stare at the classroom as if we can force the teacher to open it quickly with our Jedi mind control. This is the door you are looking for……
- Penthouse Suite. Our particular elevator is like getting to the penthouse on a very specific elevator with a very specific key. Our school is on such stranger danger lockdown that we use special doors at special times during the day and we are issued a pass card. It’s on par with needing to know the elvish password to get into a dwarf mine.
- Bathroom. Some make the mistake and walk into school pickup needing to pee. Once the door closes behind you, you can’t take care of business. Using the children’s facilities is about as bad as urinating in the corner of the elevator. Don’t do it.
- No talking! Trying to smile without initiating a forced conversation is an art form. Even I can only talk about the weather for so long. You have the parents you actually know and want to talk with, but the majority is a vast sea of people that you vaguely like yet know absolutely nothing about. That distracted smile and head nod combined with a perfect timing of body shifting away is key.
- Children! Inevitably you have the button-pushing kid. The one that will push all the buttons (throw a fit, lay down in the floor, knock over backpacks, bump into people, run into other classrooms). This is annoying. It’s also usually my kid. Sorry.
- Space. Elevators have a limited amount of space. So does the hall in front of the classroom door. Some people have a clear understanding of personal space and some do not. I usually end of next to the person that is comfortable with their face in my armpit. I’d apologize, yet I’m not quite sure why you are standing that close to me in the first place.
- Germs. A school is a petri dish of germs on every surface imaginable. If a kid in kindergarten has the flu, then pretty soon the entire senior class will have it as well. That’s just life. So is an elevator. This is why both places need to be treated with as little surface contact as possible. Taking a drink from the water fountain might not be the best idea. I would liken that to licking the HOLD button in the elevator.
- Your Phone. We all know you are staring at that thing in a desperate attempt to avoid eye contact. Amateur.