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10 Embarrassing School Drop-Off & Pick-Up Moments, From Moms Who Survived Them

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Before my oldest started kindergarten, I assumed that school drop-off and pick-up was a no-brainer. You just pull up and let your kid out and repeat the same process, in reverse, in the afternoon, right? Wrong. I soon discovered that delivering your child to school and gathering them at the end of the day is full of hot-mess moments, humiliation, and shame. Everyone I know has had at least one embarrassing school drop-off or pick-up moment, and chances are you will, too.

In my humble opinion, school drop-off and pick-up is specifically designed to make us parents look like fools. There are 100 rules about where you should pull up, park, or walk your child to the door, and those rules seem to change on a daily basis. Friends, I've been doing this for six years, and I still mess up this intricate pick-up and drop-off dance. I've been honked at, yelled at, and people have approached my car when I've parked in the wrong place or when it has taken too long to coax my nervous 5-year-old child out of the car.

When you add in the culture of competition that seems to exist between moms, and the expectation that we wear actual clothes, do our hair, and put on bras prior to that early morning school run, it's no wonder that we're prone to anxious, and even embarrassing, moments. I do, however, find a bit of solace in the fact that this ritual sucks for all of us. So if you, like me, take your kids to school in your own personal struggle bus, please know that you're not alone. There are more than a few parents who've survived their fair share of embarrassing school drop-off and pick-up moments, too, including the following:

"I told the office secretary that I would come back to get him shortly. She said, 'Just park where you are and grab him really quick.' I had to tell her I wasn’t wearing shoes." Photo by Shutterstock.

Jessy

"My kids went to a private Montessori school. I felt a little out of place, and was always self-conscious about the fact that my kids were much more 'free range' than the other kids in their class. I was picking my oldest up from aftercare, and the director motioned to me that she had something private to discuss.

She said, 'Today, while we were having circle time, he said the M word.' I must have looked very confused, because she pantomimed 'mother(dramatic eyebrow lift)er.'

I pretended I had no idea how my innocent child might possibly have learned that word, and said, 'Well, I am going to have to talk to his father about watching his language around the children.' I totally threw my spouse under the bus. It's absolutely certain that he learned that word from me."

Chelsea

"One time when I was sick, I drove to pick up the kids without shoes or a bra on. I felt like absolute crap and couldn’t be bothered. I got to school, and one of my kids wasn’t out front like usual. I waited a few minutes and called the office. They said he took himself to after-school care for whatever reason.

I told the office secretary that I would come back to get him shortly. She said, 'Just park where you are and grab him really quick.' I had to tell her I wasn’t wearing shoes."

Sasha

"I decided to go for a run before pick-up. I didn't have time to shower afterwards, so I went straight to the school. It turns out that night was parent night, and my kid begged me to stay. I attended in my pee- and sweat-soaked running tights, a sports bra, and a stained sweatshirt I found in the trunk of my car, only to find myself seated next to a dad who looked like Vin Diesel."

"I drove up with a case of wine from Costco. My kid's hands were full and the vice principal had to open the door and help her climb over the case."

Amelia

"I ran out of gas at the very front of the pick-up line. The school resource officer had to help me push the car in neutral to the side. As a bonus, I hadn't put a bra on or brushed my teeth, because we were running so behind."

Anonymous

"I drove a beat-up, old sedan that had a very distinctive engine noise, so my stepson could hear me — and run away — when I turned into the parking lot. Every day I would have to haul a screaming, pummeling child to the car, while he sobbed and yelled about how much he hated me.

One day I was out of gas, and the car stalled, as I was pulling into the parking lot. I pleaded with one of the other parents to drive me to the gas station. First, I had to extract my screaming child from the tree, where he had climbed to get away from me.

My kid's screaming set the other kid off, so they were both bawling the whole drive. We were back to the parking lot in under 15 minutes. The children had now convinced themselves that they were going on a play date, despite the fact that we told them that was not what was happening. My stepson started bawling again, as I tried to get him strapped into the car seat. We're now pretty tight. How I weathered this period of step-parent hazing I will never know."

Karrah

One time I waited with my daughter at the bus stop and was angry it was 15 minutes late to only realized she didn't have school that day." Photo by Fotolia.

"I drove up with a case of wine from Costco. My kid's hands were full and the vice principal had to open the door and help her climb over the case."

LaDonna

"One time I waited with my daughter at the bus stop and was angry it was 15 minutes late to only realized she didn't have school that day. Another time, I went to pick her up from school, but she wasn't there because there was no school that day, either."

Anonymous

"My police officer husband forgot his duty gun in the diaper bag. Fortunately, the sergeant’s wife who was our daycare lady never discovered it. I never told this story until he retired."

Anonymous

"I was in kindergarten, and my parents had drilled stranger danger into my head. Some minor emergency happened, and my dad couldn’t pick me up as usual. So, my uncle came instead. I was adamant that I couldn’t go with him because my parents hadn’t said so. I straight up refused and was so vehement about it that even my teacher started side-eyeing my poor uncle. They had to get a hold of my dad on the phone to confirm that, yes, I was being picked up early, before I would relent. My uncle didn’t volunteer to pick me up again."

Judy

"The kids had been learning about frogs and toads, and there he was — jumping from mud puddle to mud puddle like a frog — totally covered in mud. He wouldn’t answer me when I called him, so I had to go over and get him. He frog-hopped all the way to the car.

I refused to let him in the car in all his muddy glory, so I put a trash bag on the back seat and then held a towel up while he stripped to his underwear and crawled in the backseat. He complained all the way home."