Carpool instructions anything but elementary

It has been 20 years since I drove carpool. I’m covering this week for our youngest daughter who has been sick.

A neighbor is dropping off and I’m “picking-up,” as they say.

Our daughter texted detailed instructions. She can’t quit texting detailed instructions.

Round 1: “The signs say earliest pick up time is 2:35 but you have to arrive at 2:20 to check in anywhere near that time. They have the first entrance closed. You take the second entrance and wrap around a bit.”

Waze and Google Maps never use “wrap around a bit,” but I’ll figure it out.

The instructions continued, “Just join in the line and you’ll be fine. When you pull up closer to the elementary building, a lady will be there with an iPad. Print out this card with all the kids’ names and codes and hold it up or roll down your window and show the photo from your phone.”

She continues, “You stay in line, park and someone will open the door and the kids will get in. Stay in the vehicle.”

Like I would get out and let a second- or third-grade kid get in the driver’s seat.

Round 2: “Once you have the kids, pull into the left lane and wrap around the school. You will then go into the middle lane once you turn the corner. Stay to the left as you wrap around the first building. Other cars are getting in line and staying to pick up middle schoolers. Don’t get in that line to the right.”

Round 3: “Just ask the girls if you are confused. Call out one child by name or all four kids will yell at you at once.”

I am now drawing a diagram, rehearsing lane changes in my mind and have a racing heartbeat.

A few minutes later comes Round 4: “Don’t yell at the kids.”

“Why would I yell at the kids?”

“Because they are wound tight after school.”

I’m leaving for pick up when another text says she was just notified that her oldest went to the school clinic feeling nauseous. She rested a while, had no fever and returned to class.

Pick up goes without a hitch. Kids pile into the car. We wrap around the elementary school, change lanes, wrap the middle school, don’t change lanes, pass the high school, merge into a single lane and exit the campus.

“How am I doing?” I ask.


We merge onto the interstate with six lanes of traffic where every other vehicle is a huge semi.

Somebody coughs.

You know what often follows a child’s cough, right? Vomit. Vomit that covers the child, the car, and places you can’t see in the car so that it reeks for months.

“Who coughed?”

“NOBODY!” they yell.

Then they all start coughing. COUGH! COUGH! COUGH! HACK! HACK! HACK!! Germs fill the vehicle like buckshot, some ricochet off the windows, some ping the rearview mirror and others remain aloft in the air.

“NOT FUNNY!” I yell.

More coughing.

I blast the AC pointing all the vents toward the back. Yes, it is selfish, but none of them can drive and we have 15 minutes to go.

I am dripping sweat by the time I drop them off at their respective homes.

Both mothers thank me profusely for doing pick up.

“Piece of cake,” I say.

And then I went home and ate some.

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