One of my favorite childhood movies was Mr. Mom. The movie was about a dad who lost his job and became a stay-at-home dad while his wife had the opportunity to work outside the home. Remember when the dad attempted carpool in the pouring rain and completely messed it up? While all the moms were yelling and beeping their horns at him, the crossing guard quickly notified him, “You’re Doing It Wrong!”
After many, many years of doing carpool, I’m here to tell you … you CAN do it wrong.
Let me preface this by letting you know I’ve participated in carpool lines at several different schools for many, many years. I’ve also been on the other side of carpool and opened the doors for your little ones as they came to school. While it seems simple, parents take different approaches to it and can fall into a type of carpooler. Here are the top six types of carpool parents I have witnessed:
Do not ever get out of the car, EVER. Once you’re in line, you’re locked in. I know sometimes it feels like you’re a prisoner in your own vehicle and you may be in there with a screaming toddler, but you cannot get out. If there is a dire emergency and you must exit the car, you better do it with lightening speed because everyone behind you is uttering the same thing ‘no, no, no get back in the car.’
For the love … MOVE up. When the car in front of you moves up, you move behind them. It’s really simple, really. I know we get distracted and miss the steady stream of cars moving, but don’t be the habitual pauser.
There’s a path that has been carefully planned and probably executed for several years. FOLLOW THE PLAN. Now, if it is the beginning of the year or if it appears you’re a grandparent who got thrown into carpool duty, I’ll have some grace and give you a cut in. But, listen, you can’t make this a habit. And after the first few weeks, you know better … you’re going to have to go to the back of the line.
Let’s execute all the hugs and kisses BEFORE getting in the line. The same rule applies to the lovers in the afternoon. Let’s talk about their day and give the welcome back affections AFTER we exit the line. Here’s the thing, I love my kids too, but we are all still behind you, waiting.
Inevitably there comes a point in the year when your kid is juggling multiple bags for some reason. This is when you need to park your car to assist them. Now here is the twist, you need to park in a designated parking spot, not in the carpool line. In this spot designated specifically for parking, you can help with all the stuff while your car is safely out of the way, your child is out of the path of moving cars and the carpool lines continues. Everyone wins here.
This appears like a deer that crosses your path out of nowhere, except it’s a kid. It usually happens when a parent is running late or for whatever reason cannot make it to the front of the line to drop their kid at the appropriate spot. So, you see a kid running through the line, in front of several MOVING cars. This is absolutely not okay. Seriously, you’re playing Frogger with your kid.
Carpool can be simple if you just follow the rules the school has outlined. There are reasons you are asked to weave around the building, hang a sign in your window and move your car all the way up. Don’t mess their system up. Otherwise a crossing guard may have to knock on your window to tell you that “You’re Doing It Wrong!”
What “types” of carpoolers have you witnessed?