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Surviving the School Drop-Off Zone

I've been on edge for the past few weeks because of a bunch of changes and stressors in my life, one of which is the fact that I now need to go to the school drop-off zone.

Cars are double-parked. Others are honking, swerving and cutting off other drivers (who happen to be the parents of their kids' friends). And the poor yard duty ladies directing traffic? I don't think they're wearing those fluorescent vests as a fashion statement, but because they're worried for their personal safety.

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At the elementary school, mothers absent-mindedly push strollers across the parking lot in the rush to beat the bell. And at the middle school, it's even worse, with teenagers looking down at their phones or showboating in front of their friends. I've been driving my kids to two separate schools for the past month, and I'm ready to tear my hair out.

Somehow, I've managed to avoid the school drop-off area in my seven years as the mom of school-aged kids. Actually, it wasn't an accident. We intentionally chose to live in a walkable, urban neighborhood. We sent our children to public school just down the street. When our older son graduated to the middle school a few miles away, we let him ride his bike there. On the rare occasion that I drove my children to class, I'd complain that it actually took more time to sit through the stoplight than it would to walk there.

Despite the fact that I have to slug it through bumper-to-bumper traffic on the expressway, it's that last 500 feet that kill me.

But not anymore. While our house is being remodeled for a few months, we are living with grandma half an hour away from our schools, sports practices, playdates. I know plenty of people commute — to work, to private schools — it's the American way of life, right? Door-to-door service. Drive-through chicken nuggets, coffee, pharmacies. Live a little farther away to get a bigger home. Bigger, better, faster.

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Despite the fact that I have to slug it through bumper-to-bumper traffic on the expressway, it's that last 500 feet that kill me. It's the worrying that I'm going to run over an errant toddler or that a hormone-addled tween will think it's a good idea to play chicken with absent-minded minivan drivers. (Note: Always assume the drivers of minivans are preoccupied.) And to the city construction crew that thought it would be a good idea to re-pave a street near the middle school during the first month of school: What were you doing all summer when the campus was deserted?

So yeah, I'm a little cranky.

I know the families living in suburbia are old-hat at this. Maybe your schools were built with spacious parking lots and you have a well-oiled machine of traffic controllers? How do you survive the school drop-off?

Photo via Marquez Charter

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