The 104th Circle of Hell, otherwise known as Car Line…

For today’s fun, let’s talk about the School Traffic Line. Or Car Line…Drop-Off Line…Pick-Up Line…104th Circle of Hell Line, or whatever it is that your child’s particular learning institution calls the long line of cars pulling in to either deliver or remove those students who don’t take a bus or walk.

There are myriad things that are irritating in this universe. Cuddly hipster couples blocking the grocery aisle while they peruse the organic, gluten-free snacks. The lady who walks down my street every day at 6:30 in the morning while squawking loudly into her cell phone. People who leisurely stir the creamer and sugar into their coffee while still sitting at the drive thru window. All irritating.

But none more so than the people who don’t know how to use the Traffic/Car/Pick-Up/Drop-Off/Circle of Hell Line at the school. They are just the most irritating. Why? Because it is not a hard thing. Except for when it is. Every school has its own system. Cars drive through the designated area, line up, doors open, children get out and/or get in, doors close, cars go forward, and the next group drives in. This isn’t freaking rocket science. It is not even preschool science. I’m pretty sure any four year old with a set of matchbox cars understands the concept of moving forward, stopping, and moving forward again. Can’t say the same for some adults.


We experience the effing Car Circle of Hell Line on a daily basis. And because I am a well-meaning, yet slightly foolish human (or just plain stupid,) I actually volunteer to help control traffic a couple of days a week. And every day, whether I am sitting in my car or attempting to wave other people’s cars along, I see mind-blowing, preposterous, and wholly unnecessary bulls*** that brings the nice, speedy flow of traffic to a stop, thus rendering whichever kids are at the back of the line late for school. I have seen it all, and most of it is not good.

Like the dude who refused to move forward, thus stopping the line three cars in, because apparently his child could not walk an extra 20 seconds to the door on picture day. Which is totally fine, because the rest of us can wait. What’s a bell for, anyway? And then there was the random car that in the process of turning into the parking lot, just stopped.The guy gets out of his car, which is still partially in the road, lifts his kid out, and then sends the child wandering through moving traffic before hurrying on his merry way…

Traffic Line. Car Line. Drop-Off Line. Some mornings it feels like the Parade of Idiots.

In an ideal world, here is how we would prevent this:


Rule #1: Pull your car all the freaking way down. Like, to the end. To the furthest point at which you can stop, thus allowing other cars to fill in the space behind you. This is not typically a great distance. School parking lots are only so big. What? It’s raining, you say? Well, unless Princess hails from the west end of Oz, I’m pretty sure she won’t melt. So pull all the effing way down, pack a damn umbrella, and let the rest of us get our kids to school.

Rule # 2: Put some freaking pants on your kid. I am not even kidding about this one. If your child, for whatever reason, has failed to put clothing on, do not get in the effing Car Line with your half naked kid. If it is winter, put a f***ing coat on. If it is any season, put f***ing shoes on. Those people honking at you? That is because they want to drop their fully dressed children off, and you are preventing this as you frantically search for Junior’s left sock while helping him get each little finger into last year’s too small gloves. Get. Your. Child. Dressed. Before. You. Leave. And if you are having a rough morning and can’t…just park. Those yellow spaces exist for a reason.

Rule #3: Do that sh*t at home! Things that should be done at home, and definitely not done while stopped in the Traffic Line: Seventeen kisses goodbye. The administering of cold medicine. Packing up sporting gear. Finishing a math assignment. Eating pancakes. Applying a full coat of sunscreen. Wrapping the teacher’s gift. Anything requiring glue. Putting three dolls in three seats and then putting the seat belts across their laps. Exiting the car while stopped in the car line to re-arrange the diaper bag for no apparent reason. All of these things…and more…should be done at home. And if you are having a rough morning and can’t…just park. Park your effing car. Again, those yellow spaces exist for a reason.


Rule #4: Orange cones mean you can’t effing go there. If you are a human that drives on roads, than you should know that if there is an orange cone in a place, your vehicle is really just not supposed to be in that spot. At all. So when you pull into the Drop-Off Line, and you think, hey, I’ll just drive over here because it is closer to the school…don’t. Because that line of orange cones you just ran over, they were meant to separate your moving car from the moving children, and that is why we are all frantically chasing you and yelling things…some of which are not very nice. So please, do not drive over the f***ing orange cones. If you are still confused about the orange cones…park. Just don’t park on the cones.


Rule #5 (And I say this with vehemence) You are not a f***ing bus driver. I’m sure, at times, the noise level and salty stench of your overcrowded minivan may make you feel like a bus driver; but trust me, you are not a f***ing bus driver. Unless you are driving a large, numbered yellow vehicle that you need a special license to operate, you should not be stopping where the buses stop. Even if it gets you three feet closer to where Princess comes out of the school. More important, you should not ever, ever park your car and get out where the buses stop. Why?  Because if you do this, it jacks everything up. The buses can’t get in. The other traffic can’t get in. And then you are the dumb*** who parked in the bus lane. And everyone will be looking at you like you are a dumb*** when you finally return to your car. So please, believe me. You are not a f***ing bus driver. If you are confused as to where the cars and the big giant buses belong…just park. I guarantee the vehicle you are driving will fit in the yellow space.

Rule #6: Clear the effing egress. While it is pretty much a given that any parent of any age child will have a slightly messy vehicle, Junior should not be climbing out of something that could be on an episode of Hoarders. If your car lets loose an avalanche of toys, sippy cups, empty kleenex boxes, fast food bags and certain other stuff no traffic volunteer should see, or ever know about, then you should probably take a minute to either clean the damn thing or at least shift the mess over to where no one is exiting. Junior scrambling under your car to get five bouncy balls that rolled out…not good. And the vehicles behind you crunching over sixteen empty plastic water bottles…well, that sucks too. Clear the effing egress. And again…if you can’t, please PARK your freaking car.

Rule #7: This is not f***ing valet service. Repeat after me.There are no VIP’s in the Car Line. There are no VIP’s in the Car Line…So that time Princess hung herself halfway out the window yelling for someone to open the door and no one did? Well, last time I checked, the teachers and parents working the Car Line weren’t getting any tips. I will say it again, though much less politely than I said it to the mom who snapped her fingers at me to open her child’s door one blustery winter morning…This is not f***ing valet service. Junior should be able to open the door and exit the vehicle of his own free will. And if Junior, who is clearly of an age to be able to exit said vehicle on his own, cannot or will not do so, than good luck to you. I hope you have a finished basement for him to live in when he is forty-two. In the meantime…just f****ing park. Then the rest of us can let our independent children out of the car in a timely manner.


Rule #8: The freaking crosswalk exists for a freaking reason. The crosswalk, whether marked with paint or cones or a human with a stop sign is not an obstacle in the way of your timely drop-off; nor is it a mere decoration for you to glance at as you and your child dodge between moving cars. The crosswalk has an actual purpose, and that purpose is so that other humans can safely get past the Traffic Line without being taken out by a family friendly crossover vehicle. So don’t stop on the f***ing crosswalk. Don’t drive on the f***ing crosswalk as other humans are walking across it. Just stay away from the f***ing crosswalk.

On the other side of this, if you are one of the people who has actually parked, so as not to disturb the Car Line with your need for valet service or gift wrapping, please use the f***ing crosswalk when you finally get out of your car and take your kid to school. Just. Use. It. Even after you no longer have Junior with you. Because when you’re too impatient to wait for the cars to come to a stop, and you stroll out in front of some giant black SUV, and the mom wearing giant sunglasses while blowing on her coffee and texting on her phone and helping Princess with her homework and Junior with his gloves doesn’t see you…well, Darwinism. Clearly, you have not adapted to your environment. I will happily call 911, but I can’t fix stupid.

Rule #9: Just be nice. Be nice to the volunteers. Be nice to other drivers. Be nice to pedestrians. Be nice to the buses. Don’t run over impatient jaywalkers and watch out for kids chasing after bouncy balls. Follow directions. Avoid the orange cones. Turn on your listening ears and respect the humans in charge. Don’t shush them. Don’t yell at them. Don’t flip them the bird. We are all doing the same thing with the same goal…to either deposit our children at school, or take them away from the school. All of this can be done in an efficient and non-irritating manner if we just do what we are f***ing supposed to. And we can be nice while doing it.

Happy driving!


End of Year…End of Days.

For today’s fun…

Let’s talk about parties. And awards programs. And music concerts. And field day. And all the other just before summer, last month of school, really totally necessary celebratory crap that us parents have to squeeze in during the four weeks prior to our children being set free.

Because, you know, ta6cf5582f82380d1bdf0bb13f1489650he end of the year isn’t enough of a crunch already with the teachers trying to cram in six chapters of social studies, plus projects and tests and exams and homework and well, stuff.

At our school, when we get into that last month, I pretty much know it is time to clear my calendar and face the horrible, hard truth that whatever kid-free time I have left is no longer mine to call my my own. Because every single school/activity/group will have things. Things that require my time, my energy, my willingness to spend money, and above all, my presence, because apparently if you miss even the slightest, smallest event…your children will grow up to be social deviants, forever scarred by your absence during class party #438 and other parents will notice and point out that, hey, we didn’t see you at the thing…

Yes. That happened. Not the social deviant part. Yet. But there was some noticing and pointing out.

End of Year…End of Days.

I suck at being End of Days Mom. Really, I do. I’m bad enough during the regular school year with my very moderate participation, but once the weather warms up…online sign-ups send me into a deep state of avoidance and procrastination. Reminder notes from school multiply on the counter. Field trip chaperoning, teacher appreciation contributing, party helping, concert clapping…I’ll do it all…eventually. But I won’t like any of it.

Also, I fucking hate field day.

11426192_10205612706670409_82641071910971261_nReally. I strongly dislike it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to offend anyone, because the humans who plan our field day should be sainted with whatever sainthood comes from organizing hundreds of kids and color coordinated parent volunteers and activities into a joyous afternoon awesomeness. I mean this sincerely. Our field day rocks, and I’m lucky to have my kids at such a great school with such dedicated parents.

But I still hate it. Mostly because I don’t understand why everything we do for our kids has to be such a big, giant blowout of perfectly planned fun. Remember when the gym teacher was in charge of field day? And it was an actual field day…with relay races and kickball and the mile run and if you were lucky you got one of those red Popsicles at the end? It was probably hot and everyone was thirsty and sometimes it was great and sometimes it sucked? Field day isn’t like that anymore.  We still have kickball. The kids just play in between visiting the bounce houses and the ice cream truck and the water station and the other things that are not sporting events.

When did everything have to become a party? More important, why does everything have to have a party? Does the end of every single thing our children have ever done have to end in a party? And not just a “we’ll eat cupcakes and do a craft party,” but a party party. Like with themes. And color coordinated plates. (I am not kidding. I once offended a class party mom by not bringing matching tablecloths to the Christmas shindig.) It is crazy. My daughter’s kindergarten year, the End of Days party was a picnic. For the End of Days class gift, the teacher requestedimage1 buckets. Then she requested a list of tiny toy trinkets to fill the buckets with. Chalk. Bubbles. Bouncy balls. Squirt guns. And more! Every kid went home with a keepsake bucket of toys from the parents…er…teacher.

We won’t even discuss the year I made 65 water balloons…

Did my kids have fun with all of this? Absolutely. I’m sure they had a great time and will remember all of it. Especially that time the tablecloths didn’t match.

My youngest kid’s teacher had a really novel idea of how to celebrate the End of Days this year. The kids are going to take their lunches outside. And eat on the grass. And then they are going to play. On the playground. 

No parent volunteers. No tropical luau plates. No horrible crafting website individual fruit sculptures. Her only request was that if someone had time (if someone had time!) they bring in some cut up watermelon for a treat.

Pure fucking genius. Because really, what could be better than extra time in the fresh air, playing with your friends, on a playground, on the last full day of school?

End of Days. Complete with parties, and more parties, and whatever random celebrations for whatever sport/group/activity your child belongs to within or outside of school. Plus awards programs. And spring music programs. And open houses and ice cream socials and Grandparents/Special Person day and and that one last fundraiser. And fucking field day. And any other festive occasion that can be crammed into the space of a few short weeks, because hey, we couldn’t do any of this during the other eight months of school.

I suck at being End of Days Mom. Because all of this…it is just too much. I want my kid to remember all these special childhood events. But she probably won’t. Because the 2nd grade concert will probably take place on the same day as a field trip the night before a class party and a school assembly and all those memories will get blurred into a fuzzy blob of too many things. With ice cream, of course.

Also, I’m tired. Even if this year I don’t have to fill up 65 water balloons. But I’m pretty sure there are a couple of sign-ups I missed. And there’s still field day. Fucking field day.

“You know, you suck at comforting people.”

For today’s fun, we’re going to talk about all those fun conversations you get to have as a parent when your kid is going through something crappy.

“You know, you suck at comforting people.”


This. From my tween daughter, who is probably right. She was having a lot of drama and complaining about something that was going to be awful, and my response was this:

“ will probably be horrible. Or it won’t. I guess you’ll find out tomorrow.”

This was met with the typical melodramatics. “What? Are you kidding me? You can’t just say it will be okay?”

Unfortunately, no. I cannot. I cannot just say it will be okay, or you will do fine, or it won’t be terrible and you will love it and everything will be sunshine and rainbows and unicorn poop because I cannot guarantee those things now, or for the rest of your life.

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Also, my kid didn’t let me finish. Because the full response was this, which I believe to be hard, yet supportive in the most truthful way.

“ will probably be horrible. Or it won’t. I guess you’ll find out tomorrow. And if it isn’t as bad as you think, that is a good thing. And if it sucks, well, then you’ll get through it and it will be over and maybe you’ll be a little stronger in the end.” 

I could have just lied to her. I could have said that it would be fine and it would be okay and she would do great and all that, but really, the truth of the matter was that running timed sprints to a loud buzzer in middle school gym class while getting hollered at by a teacher who fancies himself a glorified drill sergeant was probably going to be somewhat disagreeable, if not downright miserable, for my non-athletic physical education hating sixth grader.

So I told the truth. Because gym class, like many things in life, including friendship woes, financial problems, mean bosses, and other such calamities, can and will suck.


I promise I am not trying to raise a generation of cynics. Nor am I wanting my kiddos to grow up with a glass half-empty outlook on life. I want to raise them to be realistic. I want to raise them to be objective. Most important, I want to raise them to be strong, and resilient. I would rather have them going into a difficult situation with the awareness that yeah, it may be hard, but they will be able to handle it, get through it, learn from it, and grow from it.

Case in point. A recent death in our family, the first of someone close to us for my youngest, left her feeling that she did not want to attend the funeral because she would feel sad, and the people around her would be sad, and that would make her sorrow that much worse

I did not tell her that this wasn’t true. I did not tell her it would not be hard, and that it would be fine. I told her she was right. It would make her sad. Our family would be sad, and yes, that would make it more difficult. But it was important to go, because we would be supporting our loved ones, and because later, when it was over, she would be glad she got to say goodbye and help celebrate that person’s life. So she went. And it was not easy. It was probably as tough as she thought it would be. There were tears. There was grief. But she got through it with lots of hugs, and in the end, was glad she went because she was surrounded by family and because it was the right thing to do.

So yeah. I might suck at comforting people. Really. And this may or may or not be the right parenting approach. I truly have no idea. Only time, teenage rebellion, and the possible need for middle-aged therapy will tell.


So I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

Oh, and the results of that terrible, horrible gym class day? This:

“It was worse than bad. And the teacher was diabolical. But everyone hated it, so I just did it, and got it over with and I was really glad when it was done. But at least I didn’t quit. Or cry. So that’s a good thing.”