9 Things I've Learned From a Decade in the School Pickup Line

I have two kids who are five years apart. You know what that means? Fifteen years in the school pickup line. I did the math without using the device my youngest insists is called a "cockulator," although I imagine that is a different device entirely. Right now, I'm 10 years into this 15-year sentence, and I have had valuable moments of self-discovery — some good, some bad, and some just downright comical. Here are nine things I've learned from a decade in the school pickup line:

  1. I can count on the kindness of parents, even when I desperately don't want it. So, no, random dad tapping on my window, I don't need help with anything. I was just crushing the high part in "Dream On," and you kinda killed my vibe.
  2. In a pinch, say when you totally forget about a parent-teacher conference you're supposed to attend, Cheeto dust can double as lipstick.
  3. Want to come off like a creep in the school pickup line? Inadvertently leave your back window open while cranking "Don't Stand So Close to Me."
  4. How to achieve peak "colorful old lady": Park car to unload class treats. CHECK. Get back in car to wait patiently. CHECK. Wonder why I don't remember buying cute sunglasses sitting on the dash. CHECK. Suddenly realize . . . this isn't my car. CHECK.
  5. I'm not above wearing my maternity jeans . . . to pick up my 11-year-old.
  6. My Lamaze breathing class finally paid off: See my angsty kid march toward the car, take a deep breath, and get ready to feign interest in the drama between Layla and Laila. And pretend to know the difference between the two Ellas.
  7. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones: Hop out of my car, struggle with the glass doors at school while balancing trays of cupcakes, and glare at the cliché, bottle-blond, oversize-sunglasses-and-yoga-pants-wearing mom blocking my way. And realize I'm staring at my reflection.
  8. Other people can serve as real-life vision boards. I gape at "Aspirational Mom" mincing by in her heels, holding her briefcase and designer dog, as I stand by in sweatpants, holding a booster seat and a banana.
  9. The worrying never ends. Kid gets into car and blurts, "If we're bad, will our school execute us?" Did she mean "expel"? Or is sh*t going down at Circle Time that I need to know about?

Whether you're on your first or 15th year, the line is very much like the parenting journey: it can beat you down or lift you up. So let's lift, sisters, preferably with hugs and not honks.