5 UNWRITTEN RULES OF THE SCHOOL CAR PARK
When I come back, I’m going to come back as a school car park supervisor. Seriously. Give me a hi-viz vest and a whistle and I’m your gal ! It’s been long enough and I’ve been around the block enough- literally, to know there are five unwritten rules of the school car park. Here they are. Enter at your own risk!
1- PARKING IN ‘DROP OFF ZONE’ IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.
I feel this is without a doubt the GOLDEN RULE of school car parks. Over the years one of our children’s schools has progressed from painted lines on the ground, to upright signs and now to ‘in your face, huge, colourful banners’ to highlight the fact that the prime positioned strip of paving is ‘drop off only’. For those a little pushed for comprehension, let me explain.
In the drop off zone, it is expected you are simply stopping your car long enough to allow your child to exit the vehicle. Over the years, this act changes from one of kissing your little darlings, wishing them a wonderful day and perhaps even helping them with their fine motor skills at unclipping the seatbelt- to now, reducing speed to around 5km/hr, allowing enough time for the pubescent piles of hormones to commando somersault out of the vehicle, as you give up hope of them having everything they need to get through the day. You may wave, you may not, as you crank the music while screeching out of the car park.
Regardless of how you perform drop off, DO NOT STOP. DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR CAR. DO NOT LOCK YOUR CAR AND FOR EVER MORE, DO BLOODY NOT NOT NOT LEAVE YOUR CAR !! Believe me, nothing infuriates parents more than those ‘higher than Thou’ parents thinking they have the right to park in a drop off zone. Got a little child, who’s school uniform still looks hugely cute? Excellent, enjoy the bonding experience of parking and walking together to the classroom. Picking up a sick child? Same deal. Waiting for your cherub who’s a little late from coming out to the car park? Bad luck, they’re probably standing around discussing the latest million dollar You Tuber with their classmates. Park your car elsewhere.
2-DO NOT WAIT IN THE DRIVE THROUGH AREA IF YOU CAN’T SEE YOUR CHILD.
Similar to the Golden Rule of car parks, this rule requires a fair bit of multi-tasking on the parent’s behalf. You are on track to pick up your child. You’re there at the right time, you’re driving through the car park and you even have the ‘I’m STAAAARVING snack’ at the ready. But can you SEE your child? Are they ready to open the door, throw the bag in (as you worry about the safety of the laptop, iPad and phone within) and start eating before they put on their seatbelt? No? Can’t visibly pick out your child? Granted, they all look the same if uniformed. I normally pick my lot out by the sorry state of their shoes or summer hat. Or mine are the ones wearing the un-ironed uniforms (each to their own). If you can NOT see your child, and you are in the prime spot to retrieve and feed, KEEP MOVING man. You’re out of luck and you will need to ‘do the loop ‘ again. Suck it up and deal with your child’s sheer lack of parent-driving-consideration later. Keep driving through. Move along.
Yep. It’s self explanitory I know but seriously- take the time and consideration to use only ONE car park space. In the mayhem of drop off, pick up, time, hormones, money and the fact that through it all, you still feel guilty about your parenting skills- or anything, PLEASE take the opportunity to leave a perfectly adequate space for someone else. Don’t get sloppy. Don’t think ‘that’ll do’ or ‘I pay enough fees, I’ll park how I like’ or ‘but I have a ferrari, I need to keep it safe’ and park over that line. Sure, my big van isn’t sexy, but I know how to park properly in a small amount of time.Do you know how frustrating it is to be ‘doing the loop’ and seeing a wasted car park space? Park wisely, keep your friends.
4-SAVE YOUR CHATS FOR SOCIAL GATHERINGS.
When your children are little, you like to make friends with all the parents of their friends. We’re all full of enthusiasm and eager to influence those around us with positivity, smiles and that excited exuberance that being a new school parent can bring. You’re part of a tribe. You like everyone. You all stand around outside the classroom chatting about the latest painting little Sally did, now adorning your fridge. So proud.
As the years progress and the paintings are replaced with sports schedules, party invitations (IF they’re ever printed) and shopping lists, we use our time differently. We’ve made some great friendships with parents yet we hardly get to catch up at school any more. We drive in, we drive out. There may be a wave to each other as we sprint to the next sports practice or as we try to fit the double bass into the hatch back (and I’m sure the ferraris’ boots are no more convenient).
So, with limited car parks available (due to inappropriate driving skills or consideration), the mayhem of parents parking in the drop off zone, others waiting for an invisible child, please DO NOT STOP TO CHAT through the windows of you car. You see me behind you. You see the driver behind your friend. Let’s not stop to discuss whether the new teacher is validating the enormity of little Sally’s painting talents nor whether little Tommy should be allowed to skip using basic manners because he is a gifted child. Keep driving. If you don’t , now that my children are in middle school, and I’ve made my friends, I will not hesitate to beep my horn and embarrass the hell out of my tribe. Call your friend and make a date to catch up properly.
5- DISPLAY ADEQUATE DRIVING SKILLS
I realise we are not all created equal. We are not all fantastic drivers and I accept that we sometimes make mistakes. But, in a school car park, full of half parks, invisible children, stressed parents, double basses and drop off only banners, please remember your basic driving skills. I’m not so sure about other parts of the world but I’m pretty certain that ‘doing a loop’ with no other access points does NOT require an indicator each time you turn. I’m a pretty intelligent woman and I can pick up on the fact that in a clockwise loop, you will be turning right along with the rest of the non-flowing traffic. It’s true. Let us concentrate rather, on finding your child in the crowd, making eye contact so they know you mean business and considering what is going on all around you. Peripheral vision is another bonus trait for drivers in a school car park. Use it to evaluate other drivers, children who are looking at their screens while walking and parents oblivious to oncoming traffic as they amble in front of you. Park only in actual car park spaces (one at a time), not close to where your child will come out to the car park, even though it completely disrupts the current non-flow of traffic. Yes, you pay a LOT of money for fees and you deserve high standards- we all do. But don’t park wherever the hell you like. It makes you look like an inconsiderate wanker (God- I haven’t used that word for years!). Get over yourself, park the car, bond with your kid and look forward to that coffee date you’ve planned with Sally’s mum. Seriously.
So there you have it folks. Survive the school car park with confidence. If you follow these simple rules, you will make the (MY) world a much safer, friendlier and efficient place. I will not need that high viz vest and whistle and together we can meet for coffee and discuss our gifted children.
If you have any atrocious car park encounters, feel free to tell them in the comments below. You’re not alone. I feel you.
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