A Love Letter to the Car Pick-Up Line


A Love Letter to the Car Pick-Up LineThis may not be the most popular opinion, but through a flurry of perfect alignment, I’ve fallen in love with the school car pick-up line. I know, I sound crazy. Who likes sitting in a nearly never-ending line of cars, in a cloud of fumes, waiting for the bell to ring? But hear me out!

This is what I love about the car line:

  • Quiet time: my eldest is in elementary school and my youngest just started PreK. Last year and thus far this year, my little one falls asleep on the way to the school. Then it’s quiet, possibly for the first moment all day. I turn off the radio and just enjoy the silence.
  • Reading time: If I thought about it at all, I could probably find a way to be productive while waiting in this line. But I do not care enough, and honestly, I feel like I’ve earned a break by this point in the day! So I bring a book or whip out my Kindle (filled with library books, #readingonabudget!), and read. If it’s hot, I keep the a/c on for the sleeping toddler, but when it’s temperate I love having the windows down, feeling the wind breeze through and the sun on my skin, and getting lost in another world.

  • Being still: I don’t get a lot of time to just sit still, with no one climbing on me. So these twenty minutes of quiet reading with no one climbing on me are precious.
  • The after school conversation: From the moment my kiddo gets in the car until we are walking into our house, he is telling me about his day (often uninterrupted, with the whole younger sibling asleep thing). This is also a treat. So often the kids get frustrated with each other, trying to communicate on top of one another to talk to me. This way they each get their own separate time, and I get to hear about their day without having to mediate any arguments. The car line makes this conversation possible.

I know, my entire peaceful experience hinges on my youngest napping during this time. Most times, he does. On the rare occasions he doesn’t, I simply come prepared. If you need to entertain a little one while waiting in line, it isn’t likely to be as pleasant an experience.

Here are my fallbacks for self-entertainment (so I can read my book!) if little brother doesn’t nap:

  • Bring snacks: Goldfish and a small water bottle (since car pick-up lines don’t often include bathrooms!), and he can look out the window.
  • Books: My preschooler enjoys looking at books, especially of stories he doesn’t know well. He practices ‘reading’ to himself, and I have developed the mom-sense of being able to tune him out mostly and just barely listen for questions/signs of imminent danger/etc.
  • Games: Magnetic tic-tac-toe for the non-choking-hazard kids, those old self-contained puzzle games, or an activity book.
  • Coloring: Not with crayons — warm car + wax = disaster, especially if a crayon falls to the seat. But those mess free coloring pages are perfect for cars. No melting, no coloring on upholstery/windows/anything but paper.
  • A podcast or favorite music: Playing a kid-friendly podcast (our family favorite is But Why, by Vermont Public Radio, available on the NPROne app) or their favorite music (my kids love the Dolly Parton kids CD), they’re entertained and I’m free to read (can you tell my priorities?!)

How do you feel about the car pick-up line?

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Christine Derr
Hey, y’all! I’m an adventurous wanderer who put down roots here in East Tennessee back in 2014. My little family moved here from the wilds of suburban Alaska in 2014. We love exploring Knoxville and the surrounding areas, especially the Smoky Mountains. I’m a freelance writer and teacher who loves looking at the mountains when my nose isn’t in a book. I’m a mom to two bookish kids, a wildly clingy dog, two cats, and a fish I’d be in trouble for not mentioning. Since becoming a mom, I’ve been able to add Lincoln Log architect, LEGO contractor, and mediator to my resume. I’ve always been a bit of a jack of all trades, as I’ve been a tutor, teacher, circus instructor, bookseller, amateur baker and, of course, writer. I remind myself of this as I tell my kid not to sit on my other kid’s head while stopping the dog from chasing the cat and the other cat from jumping on top of the fish tank. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and am currently pursing my Master of Fine Arts while keeping all these creatures who live in my house alive. I survive on coffee, writing fiction, reading, Disney, and snuggles. You can read more of my work at www.pawprintsinthesink.com.


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