At our school, our parents drive their kids to and from school. I love it when I get to help kids out of their cars. It is amazing how much four year olds can resemble adults in the morning. You have the early birds that jump out of the car to give you a big hug, say good morning and skip on their merry way. There are the reluctant ones that nothing short of a magic show will get them out willingly. There are the kids that are still asleep- both literally and figuratively. And my personal favorite (and the category you will find me in) the “don’t talk to me until I have my coffee” kids. They may grunt at your questions, or mumble morning back to you, but they really have no interest in small talk or salutations. They just want to get to class so they can start their day.
As a teacher on the receiving line, we are also responsible for safety. Keeping children on sidewalks, checking ID’s if we don’t know someone, making sure they are safely buckled (by their parents), have a car seat to sit in, make sure parents turn off their cars when they get out to pick up their kids, and more. That is a lot to manage in a fifteen minute window.
BTW- Trust me on that last one- one year we had a pickup take off because the parent not only left it running but left it in drive. It drove itself down the hill hitting every car before being stopped by a parked minivan. You don’t want to be that parent….
So what happens when one of these security checks are absent? What do you do? Some are easy to rectify. Politely remind parents what is expected. In most cases, it is a state or federal law, so it takes the responsibility off of you. But what about the ones where someone isn’t authorized to pick up a child or there is no car seat in the car? If you can’t get ahold of a parent, you have to hold the child. Sometimes this involves sending the parent away to go home, get a car seat, and come back. We have done this many times, and each time it is not fun for anyone. The teacher is uncomfortable having to refuse releasing the child. The parents are frustrated having to take longer to pick up their children. Unfortunately, the one most affected is the child who thought they were being picked up, and now watches their parent drive away without them.
This last year I had the amazing opportunity to witness this entire uncomfortable situation crumble, never having to return again. One fine Monday afternoon, I got a message from the office that one of my students would be picked up by their aunt. When dismissal came, we went outside, and I greeted the aunt, checked her ID, and then noticed- no car seat. I asked if the child’s car seat happened to be in the trunk… and then all I saw on the aunt’s face was panic. She explained that her sister was out of town unexpectedly and she didn’t have access to her or her house. “Do you think I should go to Target and buy one?” she asked trying to think of any way she could get her niece home.
I told her not to worry, and to hold tight for a second. I got on my phone, opened Bloomz, and sent a message to the school community. Hi parents! Does anyone happen to have an extra car seat another family can borrow today? Different pickup, so no car seat. If you can help, please let me know. Thank you! Within two minutes we had three offers, and the aunt was on their way, kid in the car seat within 20 minutes. It is times like this that I love having such an easy way to reach my parents. The fact that our community was able to come together and support each other is what makes Bloomz so amazing. When the parent brought the car seat, the aunt was so thankful, and apologetic. The other mom just smiled, and said- “It’s no big deal… it’s what we do here. I am sure that someone would do the same for me.”
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