Adventures in the Car Line; 5 Reasons Why Your Behavior Matters

The scene was tense. Horns were blowing. People were yelling.

There sat the two rivals ready for battle. Their cars stopped, holding up traffic. Their entire torso leaned out of the car window, body parallel to the ground, arm fully extended, displaying the one finger salute.

And no, this was not taking place at a busy intersection during rush hour. This was happening at 7:30 A.M. in my child’s elementary school car line.

Really? What has made you so angry before 8 o’clock in the morning that you feel compelled to display this type of behavior in front of your children and others around you?

For those fortunate enough to have had the pleasure of navigating the school car line, you will probably agree that the experience can often be summed up with three letters…SMH!

Comprised of neighbors, fellow community members and parents of your child’s classmates, the car line should be a friendly, smooth transaction.

After all, these are folks we see everyday. Often twice a day. But many days the dropping off and picking up is far from smooth.

Enter the offenders.

First we have the Nascar parents who act as though everyone else is impeding their travels. They are always in a hurry and always looking to maneuver around you. And, more than likely, these are the parents who do not work. They are hurrying home to get back in bed, tailgating you all the way.

Then there are the slow pokes. The ones who, after spending ten minutes creeping through the long line, take forever to drop off their kids, while often sitting ten car lengths behind the car in front of them.  I am always curious about what is holding up these families. Being ready to exit your car is not only considerate, but it is a life skill. Pride yourself on having your kid prepared and ready to jump out of the car as soon as possible. And pray you never get in line behind these parents at the drive thru.

But the parents who affect our kids the most are the angry parents. The middle finger wavers, hornblowers, yellers and dirty look givers. These are the ones who have the power to make our kids anxious and give them a bad start to the day. And, embarrassingly enough, I will admit that I have been one of these parents on more than one occasion. Life is hard but that does not give me or anyone else the right to let our garbage sour our children’s day.

Of course these descriptions are a bit facetious, but I do see these traits in the school line more than I should.

People do and say things in cars they would not do in person. The safety of the car gives them power. Even in line at their child’s school.

And it is entirely possible that I need to resume my Lexapro and loosen up.

But we are all adults and we need to think about our actions. Our children depend on it.

Below is a list of items to consider each morning as you make that dreaded trip through the line.

  1. Set an example. Your children are watching every move you make. The way you act, or react, to situations can set the tone for their day. Encourage your kids to be patient with others while displaying your own patience. I realize that the extra two minutes spent in line because of someone being rude or inconsiderate can be the difference between being on time or late to work and can cause uber frustration. It is okay to be frustrated. Take a deep breath and be careful not to let your kids feel your angst.
  2. Start the day off on the right foot. Some days seem doomed from the minute we wake up. That is okay. It is never too late to right the ship. A forgotten lunch or homework assignment, as frustrating as it may be, is not worth an argument or unpleasant trip to school. Laughing also works wonders. Try to put their mind at ease and send them into the school happy and ready to tackle the day.
  3. Safety. Your child’s safety is non-negotiable. We are all in this together. We all have to get to work on time. And even on the worst days the line moves pretty well. Going around cars, speeding through the line and texting, among other offenses, put your children in danger. Put your phone down for five minutes and be attentive to your children and the cars around you.
  4. Love thy neighbor. Yes, the Golden Rule also applies in the car pool line. Treat others how you would like to be treated. Especially when those people are your neighbors. So smile at each other, wave, let people in. The smallest act of kindness may change the course of someone’s day.
  5. Your own mental health. As mentioned earlier, work and life can be stressful enough on its own accord. It is not only important for your children to start their day fresh and as stress free as possible. You deserve the same start to your day. We do not need early morning frustration at school to enhance our misery. After all, the minute we hit the highway or the door at work, we will encounter many of these aforementioned attitudes and our stress will begin.

Dropping off your kids at school in the morning may be the most important thing you will do all day. For those few minutes you have a captive audience and a chance to make a difference in their day.

So make the best of the time you have. Not everyday will be smooth sailing because that is the way life works. But on those days where you catch yourself ready to snap just remember, your kids are watching you.

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