I was “that mom” again

Imagine a Friday afternoon; it’s ten minutes until you need to go to the bus stop to pick up your kindergartener when your phone rings; it’s a friend saying, “Was Kiddo#3 supposed to be on the bus?”

Um, yeah…?

“Well, I found him here in the school parking lot.”

She offered to take him home, then said, “Wait, I don’t know if I can. What if they ask me if I have permission?”

I said, “If they put him out in the parking lot unattended, do you honestly think they’ll ask if you have permission to take him home?”

No one stopped her from taking home my son.

60 seconds later I had the school secretary on the phone, and I very sweetly asked how the hell my son had ended up in the parking lot alone. She had no idea. “You did send in a note saying he could take home his sister’s report card.” I shot back, “So he has to WALK it home?” The secretary paged the teacher, but when the teacher didn’t answer, she told me the teacher had gone home. (I found out later she hadn’t gone home yet.)

Later the teacher emailed me and claimed a check box had been blacked on that note saying I’d pick him up myself. This is untrue. By then I’d already emailed the principal and the superintendent of schools asking how their safety procedures had gotten that out of whack. Because even if they thought I’d pick him up myself, why was he left alone? Why had someone just been able to take him?

The principal called. His explanation? There are just too many kids for them to keep track of.

Repeat that to yourself for a moment there. Let that sink in.

I said, “Did you see the note supposedly authorizing them to override his normal ride home?” and he said no, the teacher had thrown it away.

So let’s recap: the teacher screwed up, discarded the evidence, and by doing this, revealed that the school has no control over how the five-year-olds are dismissed even though they are supposed to verify that each kindergartener is picked up by an authorized adult.

The next day I sent an email back to the principal, the teacher and the superintendent saying, “I just want to confirm what we talked about yesterday,” and made sure to quote that bit about how there were just too many students to keep track of. (Note: we’re talking about 20 dismissal kids, with two teachers.)

And now I am once again That Mom.

Because that afternoon, do you know what came home? Yep, an announcement via backpack mail: From now on, parents have to take an additional 10 steps to the side door of the school and say, “I’ll be taking Billy now,” and then Billy can come home, as opposed to Billy and 19 other kindergarteners being told to fend for themselves while one or two teachers sort of keep an eye out for America’s Most Wanted or for kids wandering off into traffic.

I am That Mom.

I do not care.


  1. Cheryl

    Wow. Just…wow.

    We have to go through a pickup line, with the child walked out to our car, for my son’s public elementary school. Heck, even the little private school I worked at did the same.

    Good for you, “That Mom”. 🙂

  2. Jason Block

    Good for being “That Mom”.

  3. Mika

    Our elem school has a special parent pick-up location INSIDE the building and every parent has to show ID every time. Kindergarteners are escorted to their buses and teachers/aides make sure that they actually get on – they all wear name tags with their bus # on it.

    Your kid’s school screwed up. BIG time. Good for you for being THAT mom. Don’t let them dismiss this!!

    1. philangelus

      Oh, the ID thing is fun for me. They make me sign in but no one ever checks. I’ve signed in to the other school as Duke Ellington there to visit Ella Fitzgerald, and no one even blinked.

      At the kids’ old school, I used to sign them out for kidnappings, witchcraft class, the International Adoption Symposium for Kids (when my father visited with his daughters) and the Italian-American Heritage League Conference (when my mother visited.)

      No one ever said a thing. CHecking ID? Hah. I’d settle for them looking at my face.

      1. Ivy

        I used to sign in at law firms, back when client visits were common, with names like “James T. Kirk”, “Harry Potter”, and “Emma Woodhouse”. Would you believe the only one I got questioned on was Emma Woodhouse? After 9/11 they started checking IDs and soon after that we went to remote desktop support.

        1. cricketB

          We had problems with that for subcontractors, especially the guys who worked for us regularly and were out back. (The receptionist made sure everyone going through her door signed in and out. Yes, we had people go in her door and disappear inside the plant. Our guys were hourly, so always signed and out in properly. The foremen always knew what other foremen were in.)

          It was a safety thing. If we had to evacuate, we had to make sure everyone got out safely.

  4. Mika

    oh – and our elem school has over 600 students…..at least 100 kindergarteners.

    1. philangelus

      I’m not sure how many kindergarteners there are total, but the principal said only about 20 of them are parent pickups. Most of them take the bus.

  5. cricketB

    Good for you!

    Our school doesn’t let them out the door until an approved adult at least makes clear eye contact. If you’re too late, they take the kid to the office to wait. Yes, they took visiting Grandpa to the office to check the permanent permission file because I didn’t send a note in the morning. Grade 3 brother needed a note to pick her up for me.

    They check the bus line against attendance, and K-1 isn’t allowed off the bus without an approved person. They’re taken back to the school.

    They also keep track of custody issues. The kids’ pictures are on the staff room wall with the asthma and allergy pictures.

    Letting kids that age out of the building unsupervised is unacceptable. If they can’t prevent them from getting loose, they need to keep them inside.

    I remember walking to and from school by myself at that age. It’s a shame they can’t do that anymore. It builds responsibility and self-reliance. However, we need to accept that times have changed.

  6. PonyPam

    Well, SOMEONE has to be “that” mother, since there apparently aren’t enough of those kinds of teachers and school administrators.

  7. Cat

    Well Done, Mom!!! If I ever see that kind of thing at a school my son attends, I’ll be proud to be That Mom too! Good Job!!!

  8. Camilla

    “That Mom” is a badge of honor in situations like this!

  9. Liz

    Go you for being that Mom! *gives a plate of internet cookies and warm yummy beverage of choice*

  10. Dana

    Been that Mom – when someone decided to put my child on the entirely wrong bus. Imagine my horror when my then kindergartener did NOT get off the bus on her first day of school.

    I ranted and raved quite a bit. Yes, we located my daughter, but they were so blasé about it while it was happening, that I had to escalate it, to get them to realize just how wrong it was to let such a thing happen.

    For you, I think it’s worse. We had probably 60 or so kids for the school to keep track of in that grade, getting into 5 buses. But 20 kids and 2 teachers and they can’t keep track? No. Just… no.

    Wear the “That Mom” badge with pride this time around.

  11. Katie

    My five year old was let off the bus after he’d boarded.He thought it was his “extended” day at school. When he realized it wasn’t he started walking home and was picked up by police walking along the highway. Meanwhile I was searching the school for him. All ended well, but it was blamed on my kid. Years later my daughter and I witnessed a child slam another child’s face into the water fountain and bust his teeth. Teachers were on break, no supervision on the playground. That’s when I started homeschooling.