I had to pick up Kiddo#3 early from school so I could take Kiddo#1 to a doctor’s appointment. I wouldn’t be back in time to get K3 from the school bus. Kiddo#2 had a field trip and would be returning late.

The schools are adjacent, so here’s the plan:

  1. Arrive at elementary school at 1:25; pick up Kiddo#3;
  2. go across lot to Middle School; pick up Kiddo#1 by 1:35;
  3. be at appointment in TenMilesAway at 2:00.

Here’s how it worked:

Step One: Arrive at grammar school at 1:25 to find no Kiddo#3 waiting for dismissal. I had sent a note into the school requesting this, but alas, the teacher can’t read? I asked the secretary if I could go get him, but no, she said she’d page him. Five minutes later, he finally appears in the hallway, and I decided this was stupid. I illegally walked down the hall to his locker to help him get packed and out of the school.

Why does this annoy me? Because the school sent home a pre-printed pad on which I could fill out things like early dismissal requests. The pad has a hundred sheets of paper on it! How many times do they think my kid will leave early?

Do you remember the school policy about not sending home a menu because they want to save paper? So that’s their policy in a nutshell: eight menus printed per year will destroy the rainforests, but these pads were created by the paper fairies in order to be ignored.

Step two: I go to the middle school, which shares a building with the high school. The whole way there, Kiddo#3 asks me, over and over again, “Where are we going?” as if he has never heard this before. Not even once. I have to be buzzed into the school through the high school entrance, after which I walk upstairs to the middle school office.

Or at least, that’s how it should have worked. Instead, someone ran out of the office and stopped me.

Her: Ma’am? You need to go into the office.
Me: I’m going to the middle school office.
Her: But you need to check in at the high school office.
Me: My son isn’t in high school. He’s in middle school.
Her: You have to check in anyhow.
Me: Why are you doing this to me?

Because I’ve been doing this for two years and they’ve never stopped me before. Not even once. She insisted it was PROCEDURE. So I went into the office and said to the three vapid people standing behind the counter, “Where do I sign in?”

They all stared at me stupidly, because I guess no one actually follows PROCEDURE. The woman from the hall then came in the back door andsaid, “Sign in on the {something} and then get a visitor sticker.”

I put my name on the visitor sticker. I didn’t sign any of the books because I couldn’t figure out which one to sign because guess what? My son isn’t in the high school. And he had a note in the middle school office dismissing him at 1:35 (which had already passed by that time.)

So I signed nothing. Which I guess is PROCEDURE.

It’s not for safety. It’s just for PROCEDURE. Because in no way did my stop there make it safe. For a safety check, you would expect:

  • they’d ask my  name
  • they’d ask whom I’m picking up
  • they’d ask to see some ID
  • they’d have watched me to make sure I actually signed in
  • they wouldn’t have let me leave the school still having the visitor pass in my hand so that next time, I can point to it and say, “See, I’ve followed PROCEDURE.”

So there’s the moral of the story for you. The schools follow PROCEDURE when they feel like it, or rather, they force parents to follow PROCEDURE when it’s good for the school. But other than that, they don’t honestly give a rip because it’s just too much trouble to do it right or do it consistently.


  1. Pat

    Because PROCEDURE is a substitute for thinking, of course! Hospitals work the same way.

    1. philangelus

      Oh, don’t even get me started on hospitals. They made me sign a consent form at 9.5cm dilated stating that I wished to have my baby at the hospital. This is despite:
      -it was my third baby delivered at that hospital
      -it was my second delivery with a practice that only delivered at that hospital
      -I had phoned ahead stating that I was coming in to have a baby
      -I had arrived at the front desk in active labor and said I was here to have a baby

      And yet the nurse swore that legally she was in a more defensible position if she allowed me to deliver unattended in the hospital’s labor ward rather than touch me before I signed the damned form. She actually said, “Legally I can’t help you unless you sign this.”

      I should have signed that one with “Bite me” but instead I signed first-name only, between contractions, and then delivered a baby 90 seconds later. I have no idea what I actually signed, but afterward, I filed a complaint about that AND for the 4th delivery, I asked for a copy of that magic form so I could bring it in with me pre-signed. They were not amused. Neither was I.

  2. cricketB

    Lawyers are stupid. So’s the system that encourages this idiocy.

    As far as the hospital goes, “Unconsciousness gives consent”, at least for first aiders in Canada. So just pretend to be unconscious unless you hear them preparing to do something you don’t want.

    I was told that when supervising a bunch of girls on a trip, and they have to to go the washroom, I should ask a stranger to go in to check on them, so I can’t be accused of not respecting their privacy. It might have been a “local rule” or like the game of telephone, but,… Needless to say, if I need more than a peer to check on them, I’m going in — with a gaggle of girls for witnesses and a loud voice so they know I’m there, but it will be me, not a stranger.

    At our school, the teachers don’t always forward notes like “Susie will be at the dentist on Tuesday during attendance rather than at school” to the office in time, especially if it’s just written in the parent/teacher communication book. After watching a typical class in the morning, I see why. I now send a separate sheet a few days ahead that they can add to their “take to the office” pile, or call the office separately so I don’t get a “Your kid isn’t here” message.

  3. cricketB

    Another practical idea: Call each office 30 min before you need the kids to be ready.

  4. danieleness

    You should totally homeschool. Your procedures, while no less Byzantine and pointless, would be so much more fun.

    1. philangelus

      I could never homeschool. I have no self-discipline. I’d be even worse at following my own procedures than they are. 🙂

      Hey, Captain Cardor, can we get a ruling here: did Byzantium have all sorts of bizarre bylaws they didn’t follow?