I had an errand to run this morning that required me to drive because I had to pick up my uncle. I don't have a lot of time between dropping Big Brother off at school and picking him up as pre-k is only 3 hours long. As a stroke of genius, I decided I would drive him to school and continue on to get my uncle directly afterward.
Wow. I couldn't have been more wrong.
We left at about the same time we do when we bike. The school is about a mile away, maybe a hair less. After herding the kids into the car and strapping them down until they were immobile, we headed down the road.
The less I'm in a car, the more I realize how uncomfortable I am while driving. The biggest change is how claustrophobic I've become. I feel like I'm suffocating and need all the windows down so I can breath properly.
As we get close to school, I see that the parking lot is totally full. Big Brother is too young for me to just pull into the drop-off zone so I continue past to loop around and find parking.
That's when the screaming starts. We usually roll right into school and park in the grass directly in front of his class. He doesn't understand why we've passed his school and is incredibly upset. Crying is much more grating when you're trapped in a car. I often encourage screaming for fun on the bike. We use our loud voices. In the car, it just adds to the headache that is growing.
On our second go around, I think I see a spot so I pull in. It was a handicapped spot. I move forward to where I see parents going to their cars. Two drivers leave but they were both illegally parked. I see a third driver getting into her car so I wait.
I look over just in time to see a GM Suburban about a foot away from backing into my passenger side door. I have enough time to honk but not move away. Thankfully, she stops.
All I can think of is "what if it had been a child behind her?"
I get out of the giant SUV's way. She had been packed in another handicapped spot (no placard to be seen) so I continue to wait. Finally, a car leaves. I'm not 100% sure it's a spot but I'm taking it.
By the time we get to class, I could have biked to school and back twice. And I wouldn't have been so shaken up when we arrived.
Many parents do this twice a day, five days a week without a second thought. We even have a relatively small school with only 300 students. I can't imagine what it would be with ten times that many students!
I guess that if you don't think you have any other options, you justify this madness as being life. I'm glad I know there is a better way to do things!
Luckily, after more driving and having to remember what it's like to drive down 4-lane arterial roads marked at 45mph but with people going well above that, we accomplished what we needed. I was able to get home in time to park the car and throw away the keys (at least I wanted to).
Little Brother and I took the Bullitt, loved the fresh air and calm streets, and parked right out in front, as usual.
I guess it's good that I tried driving once. Now I know that it's not "easier" nor is it worth it for "convenience." You could not pay me to try that again. It's so easy to slip back into bad habits--like driving--when there is a car sitting out front (since my parents are away). I always tell people that I ride my bike because I'm lazy. This experience just reaffirms it. School drop-offs and pick-ups by car are probably the worst part of everyone's day. For us, they're our favorite time and it set the mood for the entire day.
I'm going to have to start figuring out a way to get some bike safety classes, bike trains, and walking school buses into our school--for everyone's sanity and the safety of our students!