Friday, September 3, 2010

A Really Bad Game of "Telephone"

Has it really been over a week since I posted?  Sorry.   Liam is no longer napping during the afternoons which leaves me pretty much no time to post.  However, he and Evan start Mother's Day Out next week (squeeeee!) so I'll have at least two days a week to focus on something other than speech (Liam), ABC's (both of them) and talking about the coolness of potties and the big boys that use them (Evan).

Sydney started school over a week ago and can I just tell you how much I loathe the whole drop-off/pick-up thing?

Our school district, like most across the country, is suffering from financial strain so the school board decided to raise some money by charging those who live less than two miles from their assigned school a fee to ride the bus.  Apparently, anything under two miles is considered "walkable".  I'd like to see them walk 1.91 miles (our distance from the school) both ways twice a day with a seven year old, a three year old and a two year old.  But I digress.

We paid the bus fee last year - all $64 per month.  Yes, per month.  That's on top of the really high school taxes we already pay.  Ridiculous, no?

So this year, Sydney is a "car rider" which means I have to pack up all three kids and spend about an hour a day driving to and from school through miles of 20 mph school zones and waiting in lines of cars that wrap around entire blocks of the neighborhood.  Ugh.

I've figured out a short-cut for the drop off so that's not too bad.  But pick-up?  It's a never ending nightmare.  The thought of having to do this with three kids at various schools for the next fifteen years makes me want to move out to the country so that we're well over the sacred two mile mark.

The pick-up "system" involves a set of numbered stars along the school walkway and two overworked and sweaty teachers with bullhorns yelling out kids' names.  Teacher A reads the kids' names off of the required name sign that parents hold up and like a not-so-fun game of "Telephone" yells the name to Teacher B who uses her bullhorn to yell the name and a numbered star for the kids to stand on.  Ideally, six cars should pull up to six numbered stars and their kids will be waiting for them.  Once those six cars are loaded up, they leave and another six cars take their place until all of the kids are picked up.  Notice I said ideally.

In reality, it's a train wreck.  There are probably 300 car-rider kids (about 200 of whom would ride the bus if their parents didn't feel like they were being ripped off) and try as they might to keep the kids quiet so that everyone can hear the names being yelled by the bullhorn teachers, it's just impossible to keep them all from talking.  There are many kids who don't hear their names.

And then there are kids like Sydney who have hard to pronounce last names, so what they hear is either just a first name or a full name that has been butchered so badly by the "Telephone"-playing teachers with bullhorns that the kids don't know that it is indeed their name being called.  I told Ryan that I want to show up to a faculty meeting sometime and make all the teachers practice pronouncing our last name so that 1) my child can hear her full name called and 2) I'm not the offending line-holder-upper every day.  I don't think the teachers would appreciate my little pronunciation tutorial, though.

Anyway, it's a pain, but it is what it is.  We all get to sleep a little later by driving rather than riding the bus, so that's one positive.  It's probably the only positive, but a positive nonetheless.

And who knows, if the traffic gets much worse, the district might retract the whole pay-for-bus-service thing.  Hey, I'm allowed to dream, right?

1 comment:

  1. Tien says...

    $64/month? Are you sure they aren't accidentally charging you for the limo ride?

    I feel sorry for the teachers on car pickup duty. It seems like they could significantly improve this system. Maybe use numbers? Or maybe line up the kids in some kind of order so it's easy to find them? Or maybe a walkie-talkie could come in handy? Or, how about making the bus ride cheaper/free?