That’s Not How You Merge, Susan!

Every August when school starts, I have this “butterfly” feeling in my stomach. You know, the kind that you get when you are excited to start something new. When you know your child is getting ready to embark on something so exciting and fun but they just don’t know it yet. When you know there will be memories made that will be with you and your child for the rest of their lives. It’s a great “butterfly” feeling!

However, every August as I’m driving my kids to school, I get another feeling…. anxiety! This anxiety is not “will they play nice with friends,” or “will they remember their locker combination.” This anxiety rests solely on the one thing I dread more than anything else…

The drop-off/ pick-up line!

As a mom of 4 (three who now drive, praise the Lord), I’ve been doing the drop-off/pick-up lines since 2002. My youngest child is in 4th grades so I am still in the throes of this simple, yet irritating ritual we parents do every day. Twice a day. 

The school my daughter goes to is AMAZING!  At enrollment, every parent gets a “car rider” instruction sheet with clear, simple rules to follow when dropping off or picking up their child.  EVERY. PARENT. This instruction sheet is an actual diagram of the school parking lot with exits clearly marked. They even put arrows that show which way to enter the lot, go through the line and then exit. Clear. Simple. Easy.

Apparently, NOT!

It never fails that someone enters the lot in the wrong way. Or tries to cut in line. Or doesn’t pull up far enough to allow more cars to enter the circle drive. Or lets their child exit the car on the wrong side (which is not safe for the child) or just simply waits to watch their kid enter the school while clogging the line up. 

A few years ago, her school even added painted “car spots” in the car line. Like…on the concrete in the circle drive. And they numbered them! Genius! When they did this, I wanted to shout “Hallelujah!” I figured with this stroke of genius, there was NO WAY a parent could mess this process up. 

I was wrong!

In addition to this clear instruction sheet and painted car spots, our wonderful school staff direct traffic in order to keep things moving and to keep everyone safe. It’s a huge task and they rock it everyday, twice a day. Our teachers stand out in the weather pointing to the painted car spots, stopping cars when kids need to cross the circle drive safely and help the smaller kids get in and out of their cars. I can honestly say that our school does EVERYTHING humanly possible to keep this twice-a-day process go smoothly. Without them, I guarantee there would be fist fighting in the car line. 

I’m going to be honest here and say that I have said things out loud in my car like “Are you kidding me?” or “Seriously, how hard is this?” or “You’re not the only driver here, lady!” I admit that this process has led me to arrive late to the pickup line so I won’t feel frustrated. In the morning, I drop my daughter off at the earliest time she can get to school to avoid those parents who are racing at the last minute. But in the afternoon, I arrive 10 minutes after school has let out because I know the line will still be long but not frustrating. And you know what…it’s worked!

I know I am not alone in this feeling and I would love to hear what things your school and parents do during this process. I would love to hear funny stories about what has happened in your car line. Because we all do this. Twice a day. Every school day.

For those of you who know the 1983 movie, Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton, the school drop off scene illustrates our feelings perfectly… 

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Cyndra Whiddon
Cyndra is a Wichita Native, mother of 4, wife of one busy MD and volunteer to many! She loves to workout, read, run, spend time with her kids and have dates with her husband. She is an RN but hung that hat up in 2001 to become a full time stay at home mom. Her favorite, hardest, most demanding, rewarding job has been being a Mom.


  1. I love that I don’t have to do pick up and drop off very often anymore. There was a dad at middle school who would run late and bypass the whole line and drop his kid off in the driving/bus lane. Sometimes I would drive just far enough to the left so he couldn’t get through. Seriously, what makes you that important jerk? Then the parents who wait for their 11-14 yr old to enter the school before they pull away. Seriously!

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