The latest stressor in my life is not a big deal. I should be able to shake it off. Except, I can’t. It’s as they say, “the principle of the thing.” And the thing is the school parking lot.
If you have school aged children you’ve probably witnessed a few parking lot scuffles. And if your school is overcrowded like ours, scuffles occur daily. Three hundred students over capacity (we have portables aplenty) means there are too many cars at drop off and pick up. People, especially those in a rush, get frustrated, tempers flare and some people seek short cuts.
The staff at our school arranged for me and a few other parents whose children have E.A. support, to drop off and pick up in the staff parking lot. It’s quiet and there’s lots of room to safely pull up and park. We have to walk our children to the door and hand them off to the E.A. directly. Our children can’t walk to school. Avery can’t yet anyway. It’s too far and she’d be worn out by the time we got there. And our kids can’t get dropped off and left on their own to find their way to their classrooms like other kids. My daughter might very well wander off or fall down the stairs. She needs help.
Last year I had a parent walk past my van, the one with the “Special Needs Parking Pass” on the dash, and remark, “You are SO lucky you get to park here.”
Lucky? Why yes, I feel like I won the lottery. MY child can’t make her way independently through the school like YOUR child can. I get to hand her over to an educational assistant whose job it is to protect my girl and keep her safe. I’m so lucky I could just scream. I’m very sorry you feel put out by the inconvenience of it all. And I’m sorry if waiting an extra five minutes in the busier parking lot makes you rush in order to make your hot yoga class. My god, how DO you do it?
Of course I didn’t say any of that. I just stared back her. I may have blinked a few times. And then I just shook it off.
This year, the parking lot is proving to be much more difficult to shake off. My easy going pacifist self is growing angry and disgruntled and frankly grossed out by certain humans.
The little parking lot has signs at the entrance that say “NO STUDENT DROP OFF OR PICK UP.” It’s abundantly clear. There have also been numerous emails and newsletters sent home reminding parents of parking lot protocol. It’s not that some parents don’t understand where to park, it’s that they give zero shits.
Between construction infringing upon the big parking lot, a higher student population, and the crazy cold temps this winter, the little parking lot, our safe haven, has been invaded by an army of SUVs. It’s not that I mind sharing. I really don’t. In fact, this has been going on since September and I haven’t said a word until a few weeks ago. I had to. A car racing out of the parking lot narrowly missed hitting two small children. It was horrifying. There are only 3 or 4 of us with parking passes, but there were 20+ cars parked along the curb, right up to the stop sign. When the silver sedan (whose license plate I wish I had gotten) raced through the parking lot, they didn’t see the kids step out from behind the parked cars—the cars that had no business parking there.
I reported the incident to the school but there was nothing to be done. They’ve tried to police the situation but my god, these particular people who disregard the rules for their own convenience just don’t care. As for the signs that clearly ask them not to park in this parking lot? They run them over. I’m serious. They knock them over and then drive right over them.
Plus there are the parents who roll their eyes impatiently and huff because the open door to my car while I buckle my child into her seat is blocking their quick exit from the parking lot—the parking lot they aren’t supposed to be in in the first place! It makes me want to pound my fists on their hoods and go to hell. But of course, they can’t go to hell or anywhere else for that matter because my door is blocking them. So I take my sweet time and it makes me feel glad for a moment. This parking lot stress is turning me into an evil monster.
After about two weeks of the same black Range Rover parking behind me, I finally had to do something. I didn’t fist pound any cars, but I did confront the driver. I said, “Just so you know, this is a special permissions parking lot. I see you don’t have a pass. You’re supposed to pick your kids up in the main parking lot where it’s supervised.” Let’s just say, he wasn’t pleasant in his response. I balled my hands into punching fists and had to take several deep breaths before I could see straight.
And then there’s White Mercedes SUV. This parent has been parking in this lot nearly every day all winter without one shred of guilt. Even after being told by school administration repeatedly not to park here, she continues to do so. Last week, when she parked in my usual spot, I parked in front of her and deliberately boxed her in. I know it was immature, but I couldn’t stop myself. When she returned to her car she was livid. She inched her way forward and back until she finally liberated her big honking gas guzzling SUV. And then she squealed off—with two small children in the vehicle IN A SCHOOL PARKING LOT. Nicely done White Mercedes SUV woman.
She was back the very next day, so for my own mental health I had no choice but to say something. I pulled up along side her as she was loading her kids into her car.
Me: “Excuse me,” I said in an even tone, “You know this parking lot is for staff, and for parents like me who have children with special needs, right?”
Me: “So you have a child with special needs?”
Her: “No. Sorry.” *smiles*
What.the.hell.lady? “SORRY?!” Sorry about what? I wanted to lunge at her and slap the smile off her face. Of course I didn’t. And I didn’t say a word when she parked a few cars behind me the next day. In her mind, the rules simply don’t apply to her and trying to convince her otherwise might cause my head to explode.
There are dozens of equally ‘entitled’ parents ignoring the rules by parking in this parking lot. And speeding. And blocking traffic. The parking lot is a semi-circle so when a person stops their vehicle in the middle of the driveway to run out to get their child, nobody else can get through until they get back. It makes my blood boil. As a faithful rule follower, I can’t wrap my head around this kind of behaviour.
I guess the crux of the issue for me, apart from the safety component, is the misplaced sense of entitlement. It’s like when able bodied people park in handicapped parking spots or hire a person with special needs to accompany them to Disney so they can jump the line. They put themselves first. Rules, respect and everyone else, be dammed.
I’m sure once the weather warms up there will be fewer vehicles in our safe haven parking lot. But of course, I fully expect there will be a black Range Rover, a black Mercedes, a blue BMW, and of course a white Mercedes SUV parked behind me. I don’t get it. I don’t like it. But I won’t let it get to me anymore. Their moral GPS is clearly way off course. They should really see somebody about that.