I don't suppose you remember that time last year when I wondered aloud why I was the only person with a child attending Patrick's school who chose to walk to the door after availing myself of the copious on-street parking rather than stay in my vehicle, creeping along in the crazy-ass-pick up line? Well, this year I acquired a few disciples and thus several of us have been doing the park-and-walk since September (which is fine with me - plenty of parking spaces for all) although one mother confided in me that she had heard whispers that we were... unpopular. And I asked her in all sincerity: why? I mean if we wanted to park and they wanted to drive what did it matter? Some people had babies sleeping in their cars while some felt the need to get a little exercise and still other people, perhaps, have a child who's flakier than a well-made biscuit; a child who would never ever manage to bring home his lunch bag and his boots and his binder and his gloves and still make it to his place in the carpool line if I... if someone were not there to prompt him. Wasn't this simply a matter of personal preferences, I asked?
A letter - a firm letter - went home from the school after the New Year reminding us of the Drop-Off and Pick-Up Policy. Reminding? I read this and felt like Patrick with his surprise stash of uncompleted online math quizzes. This had been mentioned before? Who knew?
So I registered first shock and then consternation. Shock because I never realized that a policy even existed and consternation because when I read the damned thing it clearly states that we who drive need to go through the carpool pick-up line to fetch our children. Or else. Or else what you ask? As far as I can tell from the newsletter, the consquence of failing to comply seems to be that the combination of snowbanks and heedless pedestrians (crossing, I would like to add in my defense, at the crosswalk and assisted by a crossing guard but whatever) will inevitably cause a schoolbus to plow into a skein of baby geese.
I forwarded the letter to Steve, who shrugged and said I should park wherever I like and be damned to them. Steve, however, is a good-looking rebel who plays by his own rules whereas I am a Rule Follower. The idea of parking and walking under the disapproving gaze of so many idling eyes was too much for me. So I told Patrick on Monday that I would be getting him via the carpool pick-up lane after school and he would therefore need to have all of his stuff organized before the bell rang in order to present himself in the correct line on time.
He looked at me.
I looked at him.
We communed silently for a while and then I said, "Ok, right, that will never work. How about I meet you at the corner of that church parking lot adjacent to the playing fields?"
He agreed that would probably be for the best.
I added, "Tell no one. Come alone. Knock three times for admittance."
That afternoon I pulled nervously (Rule Follower, people) into the church parking lot and waited. A few minutes later a carpool'esque vehicle pulled into the spot next to me. I thought, a-ha, another outlaw and I grinned at her. She looked back with such outrage that I turned hastily away. When I glanced back she was still glaring at me. Remember the airplane scene in The Twilight Zone when the guy looks out the window? It was like that. So I pretended that I was very busy reading the influenza vaccine health sheet that I had just gotten and was relieved when Patrick finally appeared and climbed into the car. As I looked up the woman glowered at me again. Then it seemed as if she were about to - horrors! - roll her window down to address me so I beat a hasty retreat. As I looked into my rear view mirror I saw that she was pulling out as well, but that she had done so in order to join the very end of the carpool line.
Whoops. Not a fellow radical at all, just a mom who knew her child was going to be exiting late and did not want to inconvenience anyone by placing herself into the carpool lane too early.
Shameful. I am full of shame.
Yesterday I was leaving to pick Patrick up from school and I stopped into Steve's office to let him know I that he was in charge of the twins.
I said, "Oh, and I'm taking the blue car."
Steve said, "OK."
I started to leave and then said, "Aren't you going to ask me why I am taking the blue car?" and Steve said, "Because you are hiding from that woman in the parking lot yesterday and you hope by changing cars she won't recognize you."
First, I am an idiot. Second, he knows me so well. Third, I also wore a hat. And mirrored sunglasses.PS And I am still breaking The Rules.