Jesus once said, “The first will be last, and the last will be first.”
I’m sure He had carpool lines in mind when He said it some 2,000 years ago.
“Pick-up duty takes a long time,” said Laura Hall, who has three children ages 6 to 10. “If you get there at 3 p.m. and you’re one of those people, you’re out of there at 3:45 or 3:50. But I’m one of those people who is like turning in on two wheels at 4 o’clock and it only takes me 10 minutes. That was my point to my friends, ‘Why not just be last?’ It saves me 45 minutes.”
Laura and her husband Kyle are Southeast Christian Church members who volunteer in SE!Kids.
Get with the program
The old-timers make sure to keep the rookies in line.
“It’s so intense in the carpool line,” Hall said. “If you mess up, you’re getting yelled at. You might get yelled at through closed windows, but you know you’re getting yelled at.”
Hall’s first time in a carpool line wasn’t by the book. The rule-followers were irate.
“The very first time, when my kid was in kindergarten, I didn’t know if there was a carpool line map and if there was one, I just didn’t see it,” Hall said. “Somebody is honking their horn and waving at me, ‘No, you’re not supposed to be going there’ and to turn where they are.
“I have no idea what is going on. I turn on that street and realize that car was 40 cars deep in line. They’re going to make sure you know the rules if you don’t know the rules.”
A tale of two moms
While Hall does pickup duty, her husband Kyle has early morning drop off.
When it comes to the carpool line conversation, what women wear is apparently a big deal.
“You have professional moms going to work after they drop off their kids and you have moms rolling up in their PJs looking a mess,” Kyle Hall said.
Portland Christian School first-grade teacher Catherine Fereday said it’s truly a hot topic.
“As a teacher, some moms the other day wanted to know what I thought about what people wear in the carpool line,” Fereday said. “The moms wanted to know, ‘Are we being judged if we show up with messy hair, no makeup and in our yoga pants?’ Like literally rolled out of bed to drop our kids off in the morning.
“I’m totally impressed by the moms who show up and have it all together. The moms who show up with messy hair, no makeup and pajamas are my heroes because that would be me if I wasn’t here working.”
Fereday, a Southeast member with two daughters ages 7 and 9, experiences a tale of two moms.
“In the afternoon, when they pick up their kids, it’s like they’ve been to the beauty salon,” she added. “All of the sudden their hair is fixed, makeup is on and they have on a perfect outfit.”
Do you have a life?
Teachers also take notice of when parents arrive.
“We always have those parents who show up super early because they have to be first in the pickup line,” Fereday said. “I kid you not, our pickup is at 3 o’clock, and we will have parents who show up at like 1:30. They will sit in their car, read a book, look at their phone or maybe make phone calls for work. I always think, ‘Like why?’”
“You do have the parents who come an hour early to be the first in the car rider line,” added Southeast member Colby Wilmoth, a school librarian at Heritage Elementary in Shelby County. “We always joke, ‘Don’t you have something better to do for an hour?’”
Welcome to the jungle
On the opposite side of the fence are the hundreds of kids getting to school or waiting to be freed from school.
Wilmoth gets a kick out of circus cars.
“When you open the door in the morning for the larger families, it’s kind of like a circus car,” she said. “They keep coming and you’re like, ‘How many kids am I getting out of this car? When’s the last kid coming out?’”
Then when school lets out, welcome to the jungle.
“The kids waiting for carpool lines are nuts,” Fereday said. “They’re hyper. They’ve been at school all day. It’s definitely herding cats.”
And those cats don’t always hear their names called to go home.
“With the kindergarteners, it can be funny because they don’t listen for their names and they’re in la-la land,” Wilmoth added. “You’re like, ‘So and so, your name is called,’ and they’re like, ‘Huh? What? That was my name?’”