Pick Ups and Drop Offs
During the school year it seems so much of my time can be spent in the vehicle just taking my kids from one thing to another. It starts in the morning with 5 kids heading to 3 different schools. We get an early start so it only takes about a half hour from the time we leave the house to the time I roll into the parking lot at my office.
Mornings are the easy part — as long as there isn’t rain, snow or ice. Those weather changes tend to throw people’s schedules and tempers into chaos.
Afternoons to evenings are a different beast altogether. Pickups are a bit more hectic and free-for-all than drop-offs. People tend to get more pushy and impatient and creative with their attempts to get their kids first. I don’t know whether it’s because they’ve finally woken up and their niceness has worn off or whether their coffee has worn off and the grumpy has finally found it’s place firmly behind the steering wheel.
Either way, pick-ups entail multiple schools and multiple kids again, but who and how many depends on who has what sports’ events right after school. The practices and matches and meets are a welcome change though because it usually means at least one school gets skipped from the chaos.
As soon as the initial pickup is over, the logistics of next stage drop-offs and pickups begin. Our oldest son has to be to work and then an hour later the middle one has to be picked up from practice and then a half hour after that our oldest daughter has to be picked up. We rush home somewhere in between to get dinner going and make sure they’ve all got a little time to work on homework before starting to head out for drop-offs for evening activities and the oldest at work needs to be picked up.
I know this isn’t unique to our family. I know you’re doing it, too. Because I see you and I try to smile and wave, but I know sometimes it looks like I’m angry and maybe I flipped you off?
“No, he’s a pastor, he couldn’t have.”
I might have. But not on purpose. I’m sorry for cutting you off . . . again.
In the middle of all this chaos, there are conversations happening. Well, the attempt at conversations — the hope for relational connect.
These seem like the moments in between, but in reality they’re the right now.
These are the moments we get.
Oh sure, we get some other less hectic moments where we sit our family of seven down for dinner most every night, but let’s be honest, seven around the dinner table is its own chaos. But those are the moments, too.
Where you are is where you have to be.
So in the pickups and drop-offs and the taxiing for take-off I try to redeem the time. Because these days are evil.
I want to try to connect with my kids and make sure they’re ok. Not just that they’re homework is ok. Or that they’re ready for that next test. Or that they’re treating their coach and teammates with respect. Or that they’ve got what they need for that project due Friday. Or that they get to work on time.
But that they’re really doing okay.
How are they doing at navigating their friendships, their relationships, their lives? How are they processing all the busyness? How are they working through the in-betweens? How is their faith? What kind of dings has their confidence taken lately? How have I dropped the ball? Where are we missing our connection?
So in these moments, the ones we have, I try to check in. I try to ask questions. And I’m learning to shut my mouth long enough to give them safe space to construct an answer. An honest answer — not just what dad wants to hear.
I try to offer some space that shows that even as we’re moving between the stop signs I’m present. And that they can be, too. So we don’t always make it home before the next pickup and we get a few minutes in the parking lot while we’re waiting for a sibling.
Yeah, I know it can be boring, but sometimes in that boredom and the non-rush, that’s when it breaks loose and gets real. I’m not talking emotional breakdown — just open, honest, and sometimes laughable.
All we have is 18+ years between the pickups and drop-offs. It’s in the journey we prepare them for what’s ahead. There aren’t many times where we aren’t moving and I want to be sure I’m leveraging it all to get them where they’ve got to be next.
I’m not sure any of us is ready yet for where we’ll finally arrive, but in those moments of movement, we can at least be here together.