For many Americans, a small but significant part of the day is dropping their kids off at school in the morning. As discussed in my original ChicagoNow post, this is part of my daily routine as well, and for the most part, I enjoy it. I like to think of it as a small extension of pleasant domesticity extending into the uninvited spectre of The Job. Something about the ten minute ride to school frees my girlfriend's son's conversational inhibitions, leading to some of the more interesting and philosophical discussions I'll ever expect to have. I mean, just try to wrap your head around this: what would happen if mommy had a tail?
Unfortunately, though, the same thing always happens: we get to school. Which happens to be a Catholic institution. As we approach, there's a flurry of activity, especially in the winter, of getting coats and gloves and scarves bundled up and zipped, backpacks on, clandestine toys shoved into pockets...and then we enter the parking lot. Now, as a lapsed Catholic, I'd forgotten about the Doctrine of the Holy See in regards to parking lots, but was quickly reminded the very first day I dropped The Boy off at school. The doctrine is:
"May the spirit of Christian brotherhood and compassion proceed from you in all things...everywhere except the parking lot."
After a year and half of observation, calculation, and experimentation, I've come up with this list of The Top 5 Best Practices for Dropping Your Kids Off at Catholic School:
- Never, under any circumstances, let anyone in
According to the missives of Pope Pius IX, letting someone turn into the parking lot is a mortal sin. Instead, as they're waiting to get out of the way of heavy traffic bearing down on them and are exposed to all sorts of immediate dangers, make eye contact with a stern expression on your face. Don't let your car stop; creep slowly and steadily forward to dispel any myth the other driver may be indulging that they could potentially have an opening. Keep creeping and giving the stink eye even if it means rolling right into the bumper of the car in line in front of you.
- Create your own path
Despite the great lengths the school has gone to in order to devise a logical and workable traffic pattern for this process, express your American Individualism by refusing to abide by it. Wait between five and fifteen seconds in line to validate your theatrical frustration, then pull out of line in such a way as to block the exit for people who've already dropped off their kids and spend at least three minutes extracting your child.
- SCREAM at your child, who is just not fast enough
If your child is a bit slow putting on their gloves or strapping on their pack, scream at them loudly enough so that it can be heard beyond the closed doors of your car and the cars of the other parents. Aside from contributing to the development of healthy character in your child, it sends the right message to the chaperoning teachers that your household is a disciplined household.
- Make a concerted effort to conduct a phone call throughout the process
This is a challenge that should only be undertaken by the real pros, people who are on child number three or four, and have the process down pat. Properly executed, this guarantees the most efficient delivery of your child; eliminating distractions such as other cars and children walking nearby, and replacing them with an important business call or quick chat with your brother Grover, gives you free reign to just plow clean through any obstruction or other delay.
- Squeal your tires on the way out
Jam that pedal to the floor! If they don't already, these schmucks need to know you mean business. This is your last chance until tomorrow morning to prove your killer instinct and declare your dominance.