With the boys off to school, Matt and I decided to spend the day running errands mostly kid free. Almost before we knew it, it was 3:30 and time for us to leave to pick up the boys. The routine I set for the boys was to get out of school, walk to a specific tree on school grounds and meet there, then walk together to our friends house where I’d be waiting for them. We’d practiced this routine in the week leading up to school. And though I was confident the boys knew what to do, on the first couple of days of school I generally walk up to school to meet them.
That morning we’d told the boys we would meet them at the tree. I knew from experience that it took Brendan 6 minutes from when school let out to reach my car at our friend’s house. Factoring in time to collect his bag and stuff, and get up the stairs and out the front door we figure he spends half that time actually walking to his destination. So when 3:45 came I figured it would be a few minutes before we would see any sign of the boys. After all the entire scene up at the school was one of pure chaos.
By 3:51, the time Brendan would normally have made it all the way from school to the car, we still hadn’t seen either of them. Most of the chaos had cleared out as students were loaded into busses and those parents who had already located their children had cleared out. So Matt left Kaylee and I waiting at the tree in case the boys came and walked to the front doors of the school to see if he could locate them in the remaining crowd. As Matt reached the back of the bus closest to us, Brendan came around the corner. Matt greeted him, sent him to me at the tree, and continued onward to find Cameron.
It was a few minutes before he came back, and when he did he was holding Cameron who had his head on Matt’s shoulder. I worried that Cameron had been lost, or scared, or something to that effect, but in actuality he was just tired. Matt said he had been waiting up at school with his teacher for someone to pick him up. Figuring he’d forgotten what he was supposed to do, we went over the pick up routine with him again that night, and again on Tuesday morning.
The first day of school is the only one in which we walk the boys to the front doors of the school. After that day we revert to our normal drop off routine which means dropping the boys off in the drop off lane and them walking across the bus lane (there’s a crossing guard stationed there) and lining up in front of the school. Brendan has been excellent about being a good role model to Cameron. Once they get out of the car, Brendan makes sure that Cameron has everything, and that his backpack is securely on his back, then takes him by the hand and together they walk across the bus lane and up to school. There Brendan leads Cameron to the Kindergarten line before finally leaving him to go to his friends in the 4th grade line.
As much as those two bicker and fight, it always amazes me to see Brendan taking his role of protector so seriously. And as helpful as he has been, I was completely shocked when he threw a fit about a change we had to make in our pick up routine. After school the second day was pretty much a repeat of after school the first day. Lots of parents were still off of work and picking up their kids so it was still pretty zoo like. Matt and I waited at the designated tree more confident that Cameron would know what to do.
Unfortunately that was not how things turned out. Like the day before we eventually saw Brendan making his way toward the tree but not Cameron. This time I left Matt and Kaylee at the tree and headed off to find Cameron. He was waiting up at the school with his teacher again, and after talking to her for a moment I found that she was the reason he hadn’t been coming to the tree. She refused to release him until we came to pick him up since we’d put on his sheet that he was a parent pick up.
I explained to her that he was a parent pick up but that I’d arranged with my boys to meet at a certain spot on school property before they came to find my car and that Cameron knew what he was supposed to do. She said that wasn’t acceptable and that someone needed to pick Cameron up from her every day. I stared at her in disbelief, then emphasized again that Cameron would not be leaving the school’s property un-chaperoned.
When she still refused to accept that I pointed out into the drop off lane where a dozen cars stood waiting for their children to come out and asked how it worked if the child had a parent waiting in that lane and she said they’d have to get out of their car and come collect their child because in Kindergarten they were just too young to be wandering off on their own.
I was flabbergasted by this. I understand that the school wants to protect themselves against liability for a child getting lost once school lets out, but to me her attitude toward it went beyond ridiculous. The last time I checked it’s my responsibility to teach my child the proper way to get home from school and ensure they get there safely. I felt I had done that. I gave my boys a meeting point ON SCHOOL PROPERTY, in sight of at least a dozen teachers who are scattered around on the grounds, so that they would be walking together to meet me. By parking in our friend’s driveway the boys have a set spot to look for me, which by far seems safer than having them look for me in the line of cars that seems to go on for miles. Finally, once the boys are no longer on school property I can see them coming down the street…the entire way. So really, they are never out of a responsible adults line of sight.
After arguing with her on this for a few minutes she finally relented and said that it would be acceptable for Brendan to come and pick Cameron up from her. Figuring that meeting by the second grade doors would work just as well as meeting at the tree, I agreed. Brendan, however, did not. He did not want to take responsibility for picking up his brother from his teacher every afternoon. Even when I explained that he was doing nothing different than we’d planned except meeting Cameron at a different spot, he was still unhappy about the whole situation.
Unhappy or not, he has been picking up his brother from school every day. And after the fiasco that ended up being the first two days of school I continued to meet the boys up at school for the remainder of the week just to be sure Brendan had no problems picking Cameron up from his teacher. Then on this past Monday, when Brendan had to leave school early for an orthodontist appointment, he offered to walk up to the school and pick up Cameron so that I wouldn’t have to unload Kaylee and haul her down to the school. I was pleasantly surprised by this change in attitude and took him up on his offer. He retrieved his brother just like he would on any normal day and brought him down to the car like he’d been doing it his whole life.
Getting through the days leading up to school starting, and then making our adjustments in our routine was a bit more hectic than I would have liked it to be, but at least we made it through. Now that we are into the second week of school, things are starting to calm down a bit and really settle into place. Soon, we’ll all be so used to our new routines that none of us will even remember the headaches that went into that first week of school. At least I hope so anyway…