Not Just an Annoying Pick Up Line -How I Turned A Time Wasting Aggravation into the Ultimate in Self-Care
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
We all have pet peeves, right? You know, things like open mouthed chewers, double dippers, or tailgators (and, I am not talking about the fun, pre-game festivities fun kind of tailgating). Those things that instantly get your blood boiling, taking you from chill to seeing-red irate in a hot second. Wanna know my biggest pet peeve? The elementary school drop-off and pick-up line. It shocked me to find out my biggest pet peeve didn’t make the top 20 list! Obviously, the list-makers have never experienced the lamest and most obnoxious of all pick-up lines!
Every year, right before school starts, the school district sends out an email correspondence outlining expectations on proper drop-off/pick-up line etiquette in an attempt to make everything go smoothly and quickly. I will confess that our new district is way nicer than the district we moved from four years ago. At our previous school, the principal was pretty hard core; the gold standard for drop-off was pretty close to tuck-and-roll. Everyone followed the rules so as not to get emails or phone calls from the principal for holding up the line. At our new school district, however, the drop-off expectations are seen more as loose suggestions rather than hard core expectations; the amount of parents getting out of the cars in line as well as student “dawdling” is remarkable. Fortunately, my husband started taking drop-off as his morning duty.
As if drop-off wasn’t bad enough, the pick-up line response is “hold my beverage ‘cause it’s my turn”. Here’s where the real insanity starts. While the morning drop-off line might go as slow as a turtle in peanut butter, it at least moves. Eventually. Not at pick-up. The cars don’t move at all in the pick up lines. Not only that, but the lines aren’t wide enough to get around a waiting car once you have retrieved your own precious snowflake. To get the best spot in the line, meaning being at the front causing the hold up, you need to be in line at least thirty minutes before school is out; from start to finish, this is a good 40 to 60 minutes of wasted time spent in my stressful place. Ugh. In an attempt to avoid the pick-up line debacle, I started parking and waiting outside, battling the elements for my pokey little puppy to finally appear. That worked great until bonus baby, Lucy, arrived and waiting in the Wisconsin bipolar weather was not an option. I did the pick up line dance a few times with baby in tow then it was time for a new plan. Sorry, kids, bus it is...even if you don’t get home for over an hour after school is out!
Plan solved, moving on, chaos calmed. Phew.
Cue sinister music, enter the pandemic from stage left. So far, we are fortunate to have some in person schooling. One part of the plan to keep school in session and social distancing a possibility was requesting that the bus only be used for kids with no other alternative to get to and from school. Guess what that meant, friends? Not only was it back to the drop-off and pick-up lines circus, compound the crazy with ten times more people using them. The only way to describe this spectacle concisely and accurately is absolute shit-show...sorry, not sorry. (Props to the school district and local police for making adjustments to speed it up in those first few days...and to the parents for mostly following the rules after it was made clear stepping out of line was no longer tolerated.)
Like everyone else during this time, my coping mechanisms seem to have severely diminished. I have very little reserve before I am pushed off the proverbial cliff. I knew that for me to not turn into a raging lunatic, screaming my head off at every infraction, I needed to figure out a plan to regain the calm in the chaos and personal hell that was the drop off/pick up line. My sanity, and possibly a future criminal record for assault, depended on it.
In the past, whenever I was in the car for longer than 10 minutes, I often turned to audiobooks to occupy my time. Audiobooks are an awesome strategy for transforming wasted time into the ultimate in productive time. When we lived in the Madison area, just about everywhere I went was more than a 10 minute drive. Here in the EC (Eau Claire for those not familiar, calling it the EC sounds cooler in my head. Reminiscent of the OC, Orange County. Stop judging and give me this little joy...lol.), everything seems to be 5 to 10 minutes max from door to door. Since this is too short a time for me to get into the audiobook groove, I have gotten out of this habit. Now that the pick-up line has turned into a minimum of a 20 minute commitment, perhaps, my saving grace was found!
This has been a game changer! Now, this stressful and complete time-wasting aggravation has turned into, get this, one of my favorite times of day. I am as shocked as you are, friends, to be admitting this. I get twenty to thirty minutes of enjoying my latest personal growth and development audiobook, mostly by myself. I mean, Lucy is with me but she’s facing backwards in the second row, strapped into her carseat, usually playing with a book or toy. As in, contained and not causing her normal toddler tornado that requires constant supervision and intervention to prevent catastrophe. This snippet in my day has become the much-needed and oft-forgotten self-care time, allowing me to recharge and destress, all the while working on becoming the best version of me.
You might be saying, that was entertaining, but so what...what does that have to do with me? Friends, DreamChasers, if you would have told me that the item on the very top of my pet peeves list could have an extreme makeover into my favorite part of my day, I would have rolled my eyes and responded with something super sarcastic. The actual drop-off and pick-up situation actually worsened from when it made my pet peeve list. So, what changed?
Me. I changed. I made a different choice. I chose to find a different way, to transform an aggravating life situation into one that served me. Guess what? So can you...and, you might be as shocked as me to realize it isn’t that hard to do. It’s as simple as intentionally changing the situation to serve you, rather than happen to you. With a little intention guiding your choice, you might just find fun and inspiration in the places that aggravation and stress once were. Life is too short to dwell on regrets, rather, I choose to use that feeling of regret as a catalyst to evaluate a potential life lesson. So, instead of regretting that I didn’t bring audiobooks back sooner, I am grateful for the opportunity to bring them back into my daily life.
You got this, DreamChaser! Shine on!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.