Carpooling 101

carpoolSchool was back quicker than we expected – at least the last two weeks flew by and suddenly we had to scramble as usual to get ready for the crazy school start season; books, clothes, lunch boxes, pens, notebooks, wipes … you name it.  I can’t remember getting that much stuff for my first school day.  In fact, my lunch box looked exactly like the previous year (with same boring content) and my pens were stolen from my dad’s shop.

This year we opt’d for not sending our daughter on the school bus.  Well, it was probably the peer pressure from her on us that made the decision for us, as she no longer felt she would be able to ride on public school buses with all the noisy and rude kids.  She preferred to get dropped every morning and picked up in the afternoon.  Welcome to pre-teen school runs!

Funnily enough, our neighbour’s kid started school too, first grade, so it would be silly not to organise some sort of carpooling.  It was just right out stupid to drive two cars to school, when we could share the joys of dropping the kids off.

We thought it would be an awesome idea to share the bringing to/from school trip, so I approached the neighbour family, who immediately jumped on the idea; we would bring the kids in the mornings and they would collect in the afternoons.  It sounded like a fair deal, right!?

It wasn’t long into the first week, when we started to realise that perhaps it wasn’t the best idea.  OK, I fully appreciate that we all have to get a little organised when it comes to school drop off and collections, making sure we arrive at the correct time and that we pick up all the kids.

Day 1; no school carpool arrangement given all parents wanted to be there for the first day, taking more pictures than a Japanese tourist bus flying across Europe. We collected the kid just to make sure to be the first to hear about their first day.

Day 2; I had made it pretty clear that since I’m dropping the kids off, it had to be on my terms and in my car – The Beast.  It’s a hybrid pickup truck, with one bench that legally can fit three people.  Drop off was successful, however at around lunchtime my wife received a phone call from our neighbour saying that she had an appointment, so she could not collect.  We later found out he actually had a playdate. Hmmm, not a great start.

Day 3; Again, morning drop off went without a glitch, but the collection at the end of the school day – not as smooth.  Our daughter arrived at the collection point at the agreed time, but there was not a trace of the neighbour.  Then suddenly she returned and brought all the kids home.  Somewhat worried, so perhaps she got delayed in traffic.

Day 4; I’m a superstar I know, so the drop off obviously went as planned.  I wish I could say the same for the afternoon collection.  Basically, the neighbour never collected our daughter from the school.  She picked up her son and left. Yes. You heard right. She left. Our daughter was rightfully upset and quickly went to teachers for assistance.  This resulted in a full fletch teacher rescue mission, who frantically attempted to locate the neighbour, but to no avail.  The principal even called the neighbour’s phones, but no one picked up or returned the call.  They used the surveillance cameras to search for her but couldn’t find her. We didn’t get any calls from the neighbour either, which was very strange. So we got the call from the school secretary telling us

“Your daughter is still here. She claims Mrs …. is picking her up.”

“Yes, that’s correct. Did she not arrive yet?”

“No. She left long ago with her son.”

“OH MY GOOOOD!!! I’ll be there as soon as I can.” and off my wife went to the rescue.

lost-kidOne would have thought that they would at least contact us to say that something had happened. To ask us if our daughter had arrived back home safely or perhaps stayed at the school until she found our daughter to collect her.

You can’t really claim you lost our phone number because we live practically 30 seconds away from them. You could always knock on the door and tell us right?

But no!  All form of logic evaded the neighbour that evening and it wasn’t until I rang their doorbell that it perhaps dawned on them that they had forgotten our daughter at the school.  Yes, they did apologise frantically, but it was too late.

The neighbour claimed she’d been in the playground beside the school and time flew. She went back to the meeting point and couldn’t find our daughter. Since she wasn’t there, she went home.

She assured us she is a responsible person. Imagine, what she would do if she was irresponsible? Yes. Imagine.

I kindly suggested that we hold off with the carpooling thing for the foreseeable future, given someone in the deal had to learn a little thing or two about responsibilities.

It’s ok to forget to buy milk; to return a DVD; not to buy a round – BUT, you cannot forget a kid you are meant to be collecting from the local school.  That’s just not on!

It was nice though that they did apologise directly to our daughter.  Unfortunately the damage had been done and our daughter begged us not to setup carpooling arrangements again. Well, my wife wouldn’t allow it to happen anyways.

So, the morale of the story is; remember to collect ALL the kids from school.  If you can’t find one of the kids, then you stay at the school until the kid has been located.

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