The instructions from my son's school were very clear at the beginning of the school year. Carpool drop off was only on THIS side of the school, we were told. For everyone's safety, they said. The school even took the time to paint arrows in the parking lot to specifically outline the direction the cars were supposed to move and to indicate where they were to line up. Very simple. I pulled up to the school the first day, as directed! I dropped my son off in the designated spot and headed off to work. No problem.
Except then the additional directions began showing up in my email in-box:
Parents are asked to pull up to a specific point before dropping off their child.
Parents are asked not to 'cut' in the line.
Parents are asked not to pull out of the line after dropping their child off in some random spot.
Parents are asked not to chat with random passerby while in the carpool line.
Parents are asked not to pull into the handicapped spots instead of going through the carpool line.
**Parents are asked not to run over any of the random senior citizens who are arriving at church for the 8am Mass.
I started getting a little frustrated with all the emails. The car pool directions were very specific and simple. Easy to follow. There are little yellow arrows all over the parking lot, and all you have to do was follow them.
What was going on?
Nobody was following directions.
Parents were not paying attention to the arrows carefully painted on the asphalt, so they felt that the directions did not apply to them. Parents were in too much of a hurry to pull up to a specific spot in the line, therefore the directions didn't apply to them, either. Parents needed to pull into the handicapped spot because it was convenient for their needs. The directions(and laws) especially did not apply to them, either.
This would not necessarily bother me in other circumstances. I've always followed my own path. I'm not the first person out there who thinks that some rules are kind of stupid. But this is not about me, or those parents. It's about setting an example. We send our kids to school to learn. Part of learning involves following the directions. Kids are even graded on their ability to follow directions. Fer cryin' out loud, learning math is all about following directions!
How can we expect kids to follow directions when their parents can't manage it? We punish kids who don't follow directions, and then we do the exact opposite? What is a poor kid supposed to do, when his parents can't follow the directions given by their own elementary school?
It's the whole "do as I say, not as I do" routine that kids have dealt with for centuries. That used to drive me crazy when I was a kid, and it drives me nuts now. I'm outraged for all the kids out there who are completely confused by these situations. They have enough to worry about, without their parents causing such a ruckus.
My first solution to this particular issue is to start with the shaming of those parents who can't manage to follow the directions. Knock on their car window and inform them of their error. However, my son has informed me that I mustn't embarrass him in front of his friends and classmates. This has thus far stymied my efforts, because my attention span is not very long these days. I may get irritated by the behavior of my fellow parents in the car pool lane, but then I get distracted by a song on the radio or with thoughts about the coming day.
I'm a work in progress.
**I may have made that one up.