The Carpool Line

I recently had a full-on Mr. Mom moment at Wito’s school. The honking, the traffic flow volunteer flashing me the “roll down your window while I admonish your blatant disregard for the drop-off procedure” sign (if you are wondering- it’s moving the right arm in a cranking motion with a side of evil eye), the whole kit and kaboodle. How could this have happened? TO ME, of all people?! What kind of person actually reads the 59-page PTA manual on the first week of school? I do, dammit! I am that person. I studied the traffic flow map LIKE A BOSS.

When Wito was in kindergarten, the rule was to park and walk your child to and from the classroom, and when first grade started a few weeks ago, I continued to do the same. It’s a large K-8 campus, which can seem a little daunting at times. Plus, Wito still gladly holds my hand as we meander through the much older children. “He’s still my little boy,” I think to myself as we make our way to the classroom. I need to relish these fleeting moments.

Last week, as we were driving home from pick up, he told me he was ready to be dropped off in the mornings. His reasoning was thoughtful – he was older now, most of the kids in his class were being dropped off, and it would be easier than finding a parking place and walking – I had to agree. So for the next few days, I let him lead me to his classroom without any assistance. He was good as gold.

While packing up the car one morning, I confirmed that he was ready for drop off. We talked about the importance of walking directly to his classroom to keep from being tardy. He was on board. We drove to school, I got into the drop off line for the first time, and although I was in the correct lane, I made the mistake of stopping too early and letting him get out at the wrong curb area. THE TRAVESTY. Mothering license revoked! Wito tried to get out quickly, but his backpack got stuck on the door, which then prompted a blinged-out Escalade directly behind us to lay on the horn. (Thanks for that, by the way. Very kind.) Wito got a little frazzled, I was a little frazzled myself, but he got out as quickly as possible and I continued to pull forward until receiving my dose of corporal punishment from the traffic volunteer. I craned my neck to see if he was headed in the right direction, but I just saw him yelling “BYYYYYE, MOM!” and running towards the entry. Every bone in my body wanted to stop to make sure he made it into the campus, but the ginormous SUV was riding my bumper like a monster truck, so I just said a little prayer that he made it to his class on time. Which, of course, he did.

Upon returning home, I told D about our little Michael Keaton moment, and instead of giggling like I expected, I started sobbing. He looked at me completely puzzled, and asked, “Why are you crying?” In that moment, I realized my tears had nothing to do with embarrassing carpool mistakes or honking horns or eye-rolling. Oh no, those tears came from a much deeper place. As much as I try to hold on, my baby boy isn’t a baby anymore. With every little milestone that passes, my children are growing up, and it breaks my heart a little bit. I want to hold Wito’s hand forever – to feel his little fingers squeeze mine and never ever let that memory fade.

When I returned to pick him up from school, instead of walking up to his classroom, I hung back a bit and let him find his way to me through the influx of parents and kids and siblings and backpacks. When he appeared donning a huge smile, I asked him how his day was. He grabbed my hand tightly, and said, “It was a good one, mom.”

A good one, indeed.

  1. Mia

    August 14, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Yeah, I don’t even have children and I teared up over that one. Love you story-telling posts.

  2. Susan

    August 14, 2012 at 7:21 am

    I don’t have one of my own, but my stepson who has lived with us for the past three years went back to live at his mom’s for this school year because he missed his old friends. I’m terrified and misty eyed at the thought of him going to a MUCH bigger school this morning and me and my husband not being there for him to take him there and be there when he gets out. His mom isn’t a really sentimental sort about such things… He’s 12, and in middle school, which is even more terrifying to me!

    Hugs to you and Wito :)

  3. Janet

    August 14, 2012 at 7:26 am

    I love that you referenced Mr. Mom. Best Michael Keaton movie ever!! :)

    And honking at a little kid? Not cool, people!

  4. laziza

    August 14, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Ah! Jerk!* Now I’M getting a little misty-eyed about the thought of my THREE-year-old heading off to kindergarten next year. Wah.

    *I don’t actually think you’re a jerk.

  5. Haydee

    August 14, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Oh my goodness I love this so much. Plus, it made me really laugh with the drop off description. I can totally relate. My daughter is starting 1st grade in a few weeks and I can see her doing the exact same thing–asking to be dropped off:( I get it, but I do feel your motherly pain. But just think how Wito’s little world got so much bigger that day making for a stronger, solid, and more confident kid. Especially cause mom was right there to pick him up where he expected her to be:)

  6. Mary

    August 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I’m misty eyed because my ‘babies’ are 18 and 21 and off to college. No hand holding there…I really mean it when I say enjoy these young years with your little ones. They go by fast and stuff can change in an instant. My kids father and I divorced when they were 7 & 9 and then he died from cancer 2 years later when they were just 9 & 11. They’ve never been the same and I feel awful for them. I won’t trouble everyone here with the emotional ramifications of that but often I reflect and look at photos of them when they were in kindergarten and 2nd grade etc. and now that I look back on it, those weren’t hard times at all. They might seem like it at the time but you can still take their hands and be their everything and ‘fix’ whatever ails them. That changes as they get older and sometimes, even if you’re a great and caring mom, you can’t ‘fix’ what hurts them. Sorry to digress – just love your babies!!

  7. Zizi

    August 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm


  8. Tara @ Musical Soup Eaters

    August 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    This is a lovely post and one that I can really relate with. I know in my head that my job is to help my kids not need me anymore, but it doesn’t always feel that way in my heart.
    Also, when I first read the phrase “corporal punishment” I misread it as carporal punishment. Must be a type of punishment reserved for the carpool line.

  9. brianne

    August 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    My youngest starts school in two weeks. My oldest will be in second grade. I’ll be “home alone”. I’m excited and terrified. It’s hard to let them go. I’ll be the mother who is doing the full-on ugly cry after watching them walk to class. All that to say, I hear ya.

  10. Roxanna

    August 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    You are making me cry. This was lovely, and I can totally relate. The Carpool line is brutal, man.

  11. Amy Lewis Wright

    August 17, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I totally got teary! I’m there with you….my boys are in 2nd grade and Kindergarten and my heart is breaking. Especially when I decide to torture myself and browse through their baby pictures! And, for the record, the drop off line at our school is brutal too. I will try to make a stealth-like video of the guy that oversees the drop off line and send it your way. If you are the fortunate person who does it correctly, he mockingly applauds you, formally bows and thanks you for all the other parents to see. If you are like the majority of people and mess it up, then he flails his arms and yells at you…again for all to see. Sigh…

  12. Torrie @ a place to share...

    August 17, 2012 at 11:43 am

    tears and laughter all in one post. and that does not happen very often [ever].

    the “why are you crying??” part?? aaahh… love it.

    only because i cant totally, TOTALLY relate.

    (sarah- a HIGH SCHOOLER??????!!!!! how did this happen to me????)

  13. gorillabuns

    August 18, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    I love your dad. Surprisingly enough? The older they get, the more you worry. Well, at least I do. Are they okay? Did I see a tear? Jeez, can’t I hug her one more time to make sure she has a great day. I’m sure I’m what they call a ‘hover parent.’ One thing is for sure, they know I love them.

    p.s. My girls now have the same obsession that you do over Mr. Mom.:)

  14. Jennifer

    August 22, 2012 at 9:10 am

    The last paragraph made ME cry. My son is 3, and starting preschool this Sept. I can only imagine how I’m going to feel when he starts school for reals. *sigh*

  15. Erin M

    August 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    This post is perfect! I feel like I can certainly relate. My oldest just started first grade as well and I have such a happy sad heart about it all. Thanks for making me laugh. And the above school pic post had me laughing to tears!