First things first: I absolutely love my infant’s day care. My older son went to the same school, and I begged, pleaded and cajoled to get my younger one into the same spot. As any parent about to go back to work with a slippery childcare situation knows, sometimes those wait lists just don’t move. One must pray.
However, as any parent also knows, pickup time is fraught. You’re running late. You’re stuck in traffic. You’re finishing one more email and before you know it, you have 2.5 minutes to fetch your darling spawn before the overtime clock begins ticking. And those overtime minutes cost money.
Over time, I’ve commiserated with many parents over what makes us late. It seems to me there is a subspecies of pickup parent found at day cares across the land who seem, shall we say, slightly oblivious. They might be completely lovely people in real life, but they turn into human obstacles when they arrive at pickup time. Behold:
The door-flinger: This person takes up two parking spaces by leaving each of their car doors open while elaborately buckling in their 18 children, which takes roughly two hours. What are they doing in that backseat? Assembling circus apparatus? Cooking dinner? Strap ’em in and speed away.
The spot hog: A cousin of the door-flinger, this person always somehow claims a prime parking space right in front of the entrance. They also don’t move. Instead, they peck away at their phone, smug and satisfied with their A-plus placement. You might pull up alongside them and roll down your window: “Hi! Are you on your way out?” No, they smile sweetly, and turn back to their phone. You drive off, consumed with rage, and circle the lot for approximately 10 more minutes.
The hallway meanderer: You’re gearing up for a sprint down the hall, but this person has a child by each hand and thinks she’s at the MFA. They span the width of the hallway, strolling along, gazing at artwork, chattering languidly about the adorable crafts dangling from the walls. You are forced to shuffle past this person sideways like a crab in order to reach your child’s classroom. Worse: You have retrieved your fat infant and his 100-pound bucket seat, and this person is still in your way. Your arm is about to fall off while she discusses how many colors are really in the rainbow. Step aside, Picasso.
The gatekeeper: This person has decided to stand outside the entrance and open the front door for every single parent and squirmy child who bounds out the door. You’re desperately trying to slip inside, but she’s the usher at “Hamilton.” There should be a rule: After three families have been let out, one parent should be allowed in. And that one should be me.
The sprawler: This person decides to take up residence in the middle of the hallway to change her child’s diaper, put on a new outfit, adjust her car seat, reorganize her purse or perhaps engage in relaxing yoga moves (a friend of mine actually told me that she witnessed this at her child’s preschool).
The zombie: This parent isn’t an obstacle; she simply adds to the already stressful pickup experience. You see this person at pickup regularly. She knows you. You know her. Your children have bitten, slobbered on and groped one another in the same classroom for years. Yet when you lock eyes in the hall, she just looks past you. Dead eyes. No smile. No acknowledgment. Not even a glimmer of recognition. “It’s eerie,” one parent confided in me. “Does she not see me?” You want to jump up and down, scream or waggle your hands in her face. Instead, you smile thinly for an appropriate three or so seconds, then avert your eyes, feeling like a junior-high-school outcast.
Do any of these characters sound familiar? Is it worth an intervention? Are there others to add? By all means, let me know. But not while you’re hogging a prime parking space, please.