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September 22, 2011


I've wondered the exact same thing about the car pool lane. I don't pick my son up often, but it is much easier to just park on the street and run and get him. Obviously I'm not help.

it must be the are anticipating bad weather and don't want to be in the habit of walking the child in.

Your photo of the twins sleeping side by side is wonderful!

Long-time fan delurking here to comment on the carpool - a topic close to my heart!

Perhaps there are younger siblings inside the car?

As in, no I do not want to park, get child(ren) out of carseats/into strollers/carriers/drag them screaming by the left hand across the busy street and carpool line just for a 5 minute trip to the classroom, then do it all again in reverse?

Not being sarcastic here, it's just that from experience, sometimes the wait in the carpool line is the easier option.

My oldest's kindergarten last year did not have bussing at all. We all had to park on a side street and get out of the car for pick -up. (Drop off was a car line, and an aide would open your car door to get your kid.) Dragging my two younger kids with me while pregnant just to stand outside in the cold (or heat!) waiting for the teacher to let the kids out one at a time was seriously awful.

If there had even been an OPTION of a carpool lane, you'd better believe I would have been in it.

The twins are seriously adorable.

I love you and your family, Julia. 'Hope Edward's feeling better soon. :)

We carpool at our school and I would agree with those who have suggested that there might be younger children in the car. Another reason - the first couple weeks of carpool usually suck, then everyone figures it out and it goes much smoother (and faster). Maybe some of the people in line are holding out, waiting for things to click. The reason I usually wait in line instead of parking and walking? I'm frickin' exhausted at the end of the day and I can unwind and play on my iPhone while I wait. ;-)

I stared in complete envy at the parents who could park and walk in, side stepping either arriving 15 minutes early or waiting for 15 minutes in line without also having to unstrap 2 other siblings from full fighter pilot, 5 point restraints- 1 of whom fights like a many headed hydra when you attempt to re-insert him into said 5 point restraint.

we park and walk, being that we live too close for a bus but too far for an over-tired post-school kindergartener to walk, and we laugh at the non-moving carpool lane the whole time. i'm sure i'll be saying suck it and waiting in the line in the middle of winter, but for now, this is by far the less painful solution.

ps - i have an 8 month old i schlepp into a stroller too and still manage to get through pick up faster than the drivers. i guess every school is different.

Hmmm. I live in a neighborhood near a school and a subset of our neighbors banded together and got street signs posted to prevent parents from parking and walking their kids to school. I have mixed feelings about this, but note: (a) one does not pass through our neighborhood en route to or from school unless one lives here; it is to the side and not passable (a large cul-de-sac, effectively), and (b) there is no on street parking; all available parking is basically on-yard parking (the street, which is 2-lane, is 14-feet wide). And in fairness the signs don't ban parents parking, they ban all parking (but the signs get ignored and not enforced if someone's hosting a party).

But if there's actual on-street parking and people park there routinely and/or the carpool line is as or more annoying to residents of the neighborhood as parked cars, I say go for it.

Glad Edward is doing OK (and that they were able to get the surgery done, Bichon Frise notwithstanding).

My MN city school redid the parent pick-up again this year. We're encouraged to stay in our cars and NOBODY does, so I have no ideas on etiquette. It really wouldn't be practical for us all to stay in our cars. Why wouldn't I hoof it? Less time for my kid outside (students are waiting on the sidewalk, not in the hall or classroom), less time for me dealing with the whole process.

And also, it seems normal to leave infants and toddlers in the (non running) car. (Are people sitting in cars that are running? How environmentally unfriendly!) I'm wondering if I'm missing something -- why wouldn't you leave a child secured in a car seat for three minutes? Seat belt boosters are another situation, but in my hood we leave our kids in harnesses much longer than average.

Another plus to parking is a little bit of face time with other parents.

And finally, the winter weather sucks, but I figure MN schoolchildren get outdoor recess until about negative 30. So I bought myself a sweet pair of boots and Im dealing with it just fine.

For my kids' school, parents have to go to the classrooms to pick up their kindergarteners. Can I just say how happy I was when those years were behind and I didn't have to get out the car anymore? Around here, unless you get to the school early, parking on the street is just as bad as waiting in the pick up line if not worst.

I was going to opt for the sheer laziness excuse of the carpool lane - but I have to agree with the appropriateness of the smaller sibling issue. I have to schlep through another school to get to Anna's tiny satellite school and that is no joke with a 25?lb 2 yr old and some skyscraper black heels.

I realize the heels are optional but I like to be taller than my bosses.

l love long pick-up lines. I bring my book.

But this year we got the prized spot-in-front-of-the-school spot in the fundraising auction. Now I sit in comfort and read.

I love that second picture. I cannot WAIT to grow up and be the preschool aged twin of a kid who has just had surgery.

Ooh! Edward has my son's favorite book lying on his bed: You Can Name 100 Trucks.
We homeschool but today we sat for 45 minutes in the van outside the gym where one child was taking gymnastics - we live in Hawaii and it is always freakily hot here sitting in a car, doesn't matter what month it is. Sitting in the sun, drinking lukewarm juice boxes with three strapped-down little boys all begging for their turn with Angry Birds.

I think babies in the car are really the only reason to car pool. I have recently moved my kid from a car pool line only allowed at pick up time (zero parking) school to a school where I can park and walk. It's amazing. My life has changed. And I'm getting to meet people. So much better. And talk. And walk to nearby parks.

Not to mention the reduction in pollution from getting out of sitting in an idling car for 25 minutes. Yes, I know. I care about the planet too, but when its 100 out, I am running that AC lest the little kid and I die.

Admittedly, we don't really have weather down here in the South, perhaps snow would drive me back to my little box on wheels. Perhaps.

I don't think parking and walking is rude. And just because you do it now doesn't mean you can't join the car line in the winter when parking on the road and schlepping up to the school would be a bigger hassle.

Also, this made me laugh, hard:


I love the picture of Caroline and Edward together. That is just adorable. I hope Edward is feeling better soon. Hope Patrick is doing well. Thanks for the update :)

The picture of the twins sleeping together is absolutely adorable!

Wish I could help on the carpool issue, but I pick up my kid from after-school camp and hour and a half after school ends, so I have no idea what they do. I do know that it's not legal to park on the same side of the street as the school between 7a & 4:30p so that the buses have a place to park. I do know that the parents have to come into the school playground to pick up the kids, so I'm betting we don't have a carpool line.

"inflamed like rhetoric"?? I'm going to use that over and over (but I promise to cite my source).

Car line is almost certainly because there are younger kids in the car. When my youngest was really young I would walk to pick up my son; but she went through that phase where they will spill their life's blood to run/crawl/whatever to whatever looks interesting that isn't safe/near you/whatever. So for that time it was just easier to keep her in the five point restraint while I waited. Now she's old enough to obey/stay close so we get out of the car and walk. In the beginning of the year in Texas you can't stay in your car without running the A/C. If I walk, I can go stand in a shady/breezy sallyport and feel green while I do it. Also, my daughter feels that she is truly a member of my son's class and enjoys the chance to do some glad handing and socializing while we extract him.

I say park and walk, for sure! That may or may not change depending on how high the snow mountains on the side of the street become in winter.

Also, I'm with Kathryn regarding leaving a child strapped into a 5-point harness for a couple of minutes as long as it's not too hot or cold (and as long as said child is no Houdini). I wouldn't do it if I had to walk quite a ways, but certainly I used to do that all the time when I would park in the lot and walk up to get kids, especially if I could see the car still.

DO you think you got a little spoiled from the machine-like precision of Patrick's and Ben's first school? Sure, the boss-lady crossing guard can be a bit over the top at times and there are sometimes horrid, jerky rule-breakers who I swear are going to run over a kid someday, but still it's the best system I've seen for pickup so far. My kids' first school was a DISASTER.

I'm glad Edward isn't feel too dreadful. Caroline sounds like she's got it pretty good right now, eh? ;-)

The pics are terrific!

I am super lucky and live two blocks from our school, which means I get to walk and have never sat in a carpool line. It really does horrify me to see the stream of air pollution from all those idling cars every day. Why do they even call it carpool, as almost no one is actually carpooling?

All that said, I'm sure it would be rather chaotic if every parent tried to park and walk in--unless the school has a nice, spacious parking lot. Remember the old days when there was no such thing as carpool line? Kids walked or rode the bus, and that was pretty much it. Now, chauffeuring your child to and from school in a climate controlled car is pretty much a requirement of middle class parenthood, even if you have a bus you could take.

I'm guessing there are wee ones in the car, or the parent is trying to either get something done or sneak a little net-surfing or novel reading.

Because if you go into the school you have to wear PANTS and *some people* (cough cough totally not me) don't appreciate having to get dressed before noon :D

Our school strongly requests that parents stay in the kiss-and-go lane for drop-off and pick-up, because there's no way for kids to get from the parking lot to the school without cutting across the car lane, and that slows the car lane down. A LOT. The idea is, if the kids stay in their cars until they're in front of the school, the school doesn't need to put a teacher on crossing-guard duty in the car lane, plus the cars can pull up in blocks and pull away in blocks without pausing for the people crossing the parking lot.

I leave it to your imagination what I think as I sit in my car, watching that subset of parents who ignore the rule because they are too busy to wait their turn.

Then again, our school sits on a county road -- so there are virtually no walkers, plus they all arrive on the other side of the school -- and there are roughly 15 parking spaces available for parents in our "oops, we didn't build enough space" school parking lot, so our situation may not be applicable in any way to yours.

If you aren't in the carpool lane, then go ahead and get out of the car to retrieve your child. But, if you are in the carpool lane, getting out of the car is frowned upon since you might end up in a situation where your empty car is blocking the flow of the carpool lane. Also, opening a driver side door in the carpool lane of our school is really frowned upon b/c it blocks traffic flow of the cars trying to go around your vehicle.

My use of the carpool lane vs. parking lot varies depending upon how many kids I'm picking up, how early I arrive at school, how much of a hurry I am in, the preference of the child, the available parking, my shower status and the weather.

A Bichon Frisee... After 6 weeks with the ragweed crud, a course of steroids (bittersweet, they send the autoimmune stuff into orbit, and I have every side-effect known to man, and some not yet known, but I could BREATHE!). And with the inflammation down I would have this sudden tingling and bark up a few dogs myself. Gawd, it is disgusting.

I've been too long lounging like a wilting Camille.

Since I have a house full of men, I must shoulder through and keep things running to the degree possible.

I'm realizing my truer error is not living with you. I'm sure you wouldn't mind another sickie to care for, right? I'd be ever so grateful. :)

Goodness, Julia. Wintering on some summery island seems like a just reward for your saintliness...

Michael is going to school this year to access services that just aren't available any other way. The poor kid gets on the bus at 7 and gets home at just before 5. Long day for a kid. Thankfully he's one of those sunny autistic kids, and he's having fun. And I have zero knowledge of child pick up etiquette... I'm sure your legion of fans will help you figure it out. There are none as useless as me. :)

Here's to better days ahead eh?

My husband and I have been using the park-on-the-street rather than the car pool line for our grandchildren for 8 years now. I am sure it is not rude, and I am equally sure that if there were younger siblings in the car, I would wait in the line to avoid the car seat in and out, let alone the stroller unfolfing and refolding. There is clearly car line etiquette (as evidenced by the compolaints about those who ignore it), but I have managed to avoid learning it, and there doesn't seem to be any downside to parking on the street here except for the wear-and-tear on aged bodies. We have the plus of getting to know the nice crossing guard. Otherwise, she would just be blowing her whistle at us so we could enter or exit the line; this way, she is asking if we had a good weekend, etc.
I hope Edward continues to improve.

"inflamed like rhetoric". Tea. Out. My. Nose.

And I have melted into a puddle of goo over that picture of E & C.

We used to send our kids to a charter school where EVERYONE had to drive their kids and I would shoot daggers at people who would park and go in, since we were told SO MANY TIMES to not do that!! Now, we are at a public school (but we are not in their bussing zone) and the line is soooo tiny and fast that I am not sure you would save any time. However, in this case we are again encouraged to use the line and not walk in to get the kids. So, I guess I would say it depends on what rhetoric you are getting from the school if people are shooting daggers or not. I personally enjoy the time to myself and read, but that's just me.

I always always wait in the carpool line, usually because I am still in my pajamas when I am dropping off the kids. Sometimes I also have the younger ones with me as well, and there is no way I am getting everyone out of the car even if I have brushed my hair already, which is not too likely at 7:15 AM.

Our charter school has the same carpool pick up line, but inadequate parking so parking and picking up is hard to do. I like the pick up line when I have a sleeping kid in a carseat and when its too hot (we're in Phoenix) you don't want to have to re-cool the car again.

Hm, from my experience of drop-off, pick-up, it's preferred that parents wait in line in their cars so as to keep the sidewalk traffic at a mininum. If we had most parents parking and walking up, I could imagine a bit of chaos especially when parents use the opportunity to talk to the kids' teachers, socialize with other parents, fetch forgotten lunch bags, etc.

And ditto what liz said up there re inflamed rhetoric and my ovaries taking a leap into my tear ducts at the site of the cuddled twins.

Yes! Twins should get the same reinforcers when possible. When one of mine is sick and gets a once a year sprite, the other lucks out and gets it too. Same thing goes with the popscicles.

On the other hand, one loses tv they both lose tv so it all works out in the end...


Glad he is getting snuggles from his sister... Hope all are feeling better at your house.

And grommets IS so much better than tubes. I wonder if the British find our words as quaint to them.

"And also, it seems normal to leave infants and toddlers in the (non running) car. (Are people sitting in cars that are running? How environmentally unfriendly!) I'm wondering if I'm missing something -- why wouldn't you leave a child secured in a car seat for three minutes? "

Here, it because everyone in the car would die if the A/C wasn't running. And you can't leave a child in the car because without the engine running they'll die.

I have wondered the same thing about the pickup line. And weirdly, there are usually very very few babies/siblings in the cars I walk past.

Love the picture of them sleeping in the same bed. My twins, at age 11 1/2, still turn to each other for comfort all the time and it melts my heart. One can often be found sleeping in the other's room because one of them had a nightmare, or was worried about the thunderstorm. It's sweet.

I loved this story of kids coming up with a way to make the carpool line work better.


I'm sure it would be less satisfying to implement in a place where the kids hadn't come up with it themselves, but it still ought to work. I hope something like this catches on.

I live in a neighborhood where the houses are set back from the street about 20 feet, and I routinely see people come home from work in their cars, pull into the driveway, stop next to the mailbox, get out of the car to get their mail, and then get back in to drive the rest of the way to their garage. The only explanation for this is that these people can not be bothered to walk all the way from their garage to their mailbox after parking their cars. It seems like more effort to me to be getting in and out of your car, plus the extra gas (not much but it will add up over time).

First time, long time... you are not being rude at all. You are making a choice that works best for you and your time.

I dislike the carpool line with a passion. I gave it a try this year now that both of my kids are in school, but it was too frustrating idling behind idiot parents who don't know how to drive and who think they are the only ones who have someplace to be.

It's our first year at a charter school that has a model that requires at least half the school population to drive (Spanish immersion in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood, with target of 50-50, few English speaking kids live in the neighborhood and I've never heard any talk about a bus...). They do have a nice big lot, for parking or carpool drop-off, and it is a bit of a walk down a long path to the school, but I like it and don't anticipate major winter problems (California). One Could park in the neighborhood, on the other side of the school, and it would be a closer walk, and many do, but the administration encourages us not to do that - I'm assuming out of respect for the residents, but I'm not sure. Maybe the residents have complained?

So do C & E sleep the whole night like that? Adorable!

I feel it only fair to warn you... car lane issue doesn't end with high school. The same parents that were clueless in grade school are still there, blocking lanes in high school. Every time I pick my son up from football practice it's a nightmare of idiocy.
4.. yes F-O-U-R lanes we have. Logically, the inside one for parking and waiting to pick up, the 2nd presumably if the 1st contains a bus or something or for a quick stop when the kid is right there. The 3rd and 4th as extra waiting or bypass lanes? However all four will be blocked sporadically but completely by people whose child isn't even outside. Thus the parent (ME ME ME) whose kid is actually outside cannot get to him until every car in front moves out. To complicate things, the kids cannot see if the parent is there either without walking down the length of the school. Aaarrggh. I needed that vent.

"why wouldn't you leave a child secured in a car seat for three minutes? ""

Because I woudn't. I just plain and simply viscerally can't do that. It even made me a nervous wreck when I'd notice another parent doing it at our preschool, even in our little parking area. I could barely get myself to walk away from the car, which wasn't mine, to stop keeping a watchful eye on the baby, who wasn't mine either, just in case. In case of what? I don't know. There's a baby alone in that car; that's all my brain is processing.

The only place I ever could do anything close was my own driveway, when the Boy would fall asleep on the way home from the grocery store or some such, and I'd unload whatever else I could before going to unload him.

Other people's milage may vary, but that's my gut talking.

The second picture is so precious it brought tears to my eyes. Love it.

When the street is walled in with snow, I recommend telling Patrick you will be the last parent to arrive, and then if you are at the end of the line anyway, maybe it won't be so bad. Or make friends in the neighborhood who will let you use their driveway for 10 minutes.

Inflamed like rhetoric - bwahahahaha! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

When I taught a few years ago we had 4 separate pick up routines. Car riders, walkers, bus riders, and afterschool care. They went 4 different locations so it made getting the kids out of class and to their prospective ways home interesting at times. In our school if you were a car rider you had to be picked up at the car rider lane in a car..no walking up and getting the child. Walkers could be met at the gate to the school. Parents were encouraged NOT to come onto the school grounds for security reasons except thru the car lane. The school I taught at, all adults must sign in at the school office and present id, get cleared and get a "visitor" sticker. Car rider parents were given a placard with the kids name on it so when the car was nearing the front of the line kids could be readied and placed near the front of the line.

Babies in the car!! lol, I always had a sleeping baby in the car when it was time to pick whichever kid up from school. It was better to be stuck in the car line for 30 minutes, reading a book or playing with my phone than to wake that baby up. :)

I can't see why it would be rude to park and walk, but after reading the comments I realise that picking kids up in the US is an entirely different proposition to doing it here in NZ. I think I've figured out what a carpool line is from the various descriptions above, but it's definitely a foreign concept (for better or worse). Parents pick the kids up from the classroom or at the entrance, and only from Grade 3 onwards we are discouraged from coming down to get them - but only to encourage independence in the kids. Of course, the streets around school are a bit of a disaster with all the cars parked waiting for those independent kids...

YAY for Twin Power! That is the sweetest photo ever.

So glad that Edward is on the mend!

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