Daycare, preschool, elementary or middle school, picking up the smalls is challenging work.
Remember the good ole days? School buses were a common sight? Everyone got on 'em and got off 'em? Well, not anymore, at least not in my asphalt jungle. We schlep.
If you want to walk-in and pick up smalls, one must first find a parking space. This can be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack, and usually, with my luck, the space I find has a meter flashing "FAILED." Every time this happens, I find myself in the same quandary -- to park or not to park, that is the question. Once I discovered that the meters can automatically reset themselves at any time when "FAILED," hence forcing a kind of parking ticket Russian roulette, I've hesitated taking the gamble.
Sitting in the parked car, no other parking space in sight, it's tempting to throw caution to the wind. But then, the price of the damn parking ticket crosses your frontal lobe, paralyzing you. You weigh the scenarios in your head, never able to come up with any sort of good odds either way. The ultimate result, whether you take the gamble and stay parked at the malfunctioning meter or move on to search for another parking spot, is that you are usually late to pick up your small. The look on a small's face of both excitement and accusation as they sit waiting for you, the last or next to last kiddo left in the place, socks even the most cavalier parent in the gut.
Then there is the drive-thru option. Perhaps yours is filled with rules: cars on the left, or only on the right. Don't block a driveway, or an exit, or extend the line of cars into the street. Leave room for other cars going the opposite direction, get your child quickly into the car because look at all the anxious parents waiting behind you to pick up their small. Hurry. The other parents are watching. Did I mention that they're waiting. WAITING. OMG, I think one of them just took out a stop watch.
The pressure is palpable.
One of my smalls just started Kindergarten. I wait in a coned off area of the school parking lot to pick him up because I'm too intimidated to attempt the drive-thru while we're still trying to find our way through these first overwhelming weeks of school. I hold up a placard with my small's name on it, like I'm a limo driver waiting at the airport for an important client. I look around, realizing that I am in a sea of placards, each bearing the name of someone's small. The atmosphere has a "pick me, pick me," quality to it. Tension is in the air as I raise my placard a bit higher so that my small's name can be called, and I suddenly feel as if I'm in the pit of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, trading pork bellies as other parents placards block my view...
And, in spite of the ridiculousness of it, I chuckle. Because, really, who are we kidding? We are Limo drivers waiting on our most important client -- our smalls.