Pick-Up Dad

I'm the pick-up dad. My work shift ends around 1, so I get the kids when school is done. It is me, a handful of dads and grandparents, and lots of amazing moms.

It's probably my best social time of the entire week.


I talk to adults - adults that I don't work with. I catch up with the teachers, who are now friends. And I get to see the kids I coach. There are lots of fist bumps as I climb the stairs.

Do you remember school dismissal time? It's the best! The teachers are happy. The kids are happy. And the hangry dad is rejuvenated. It's the most joyful social hour around.

The routine changes little. I walk in, saying hi to the same faces - same parents - I see every day.

I run into my pilot friend, Doug. He has an atypical schedule too, working weekends. But he tells me he values the weekdays with the kids. I get it.

At the entrance, the principal, who is a living saint. How is she always this excited to see everyone? She's genuinely thrilled to see every person who walks in. She knows ALL their names. How does she do that? I swear when she goes home, she has the biggest picture/name book and just studies it for hours. She knows everyone, because she cares.

I spot Merry. Merry stands in her new spot inside, at the base of the stairs, waiting for her granddaughter to come down. Merry is a bit too seasoned to traverse three flights of stairs, with crazed kids crashing down to the freedom below. Smart. She gives me a big hug and a kiss. I ask about her cat. I make sure her son-in-law is taking good care of her (he is - he's the best).

I dart off to grab Grady. He's on the first floor. Grady hugs his teachers, forgets his water bottle, and then storms at my legs. A big hug, but without using his arms. He's playing off his joy. He shows me some artwork that I can't decipher and starts jabbering about his day.

I pass Merry again and playfully roll my eyes, because Grady is such a talker. I can't get a word in.

We go upstairs, to the 3rd floor.

I see Carter through the small window in the door. He fights a smile. That makes my day. Carter folds his lips over his teeth, hiding his excitement to see his dad. He comes out and backs his way into me. It's his way of hugging me. He gets close and I do the hugging.

He's a sloppy mess. Shoes untied. Shirt untucked. Hair a mess. Bag unzipped, with paper hanging out. He's holding a book and trying to keep his spot marked. His lunch box is dangling by its handle - from his mouth. Stains on his shirt, not of the color of the food we gave him. What was he eating?

He's perfect. His teacher gives me a smile.

Back to the second floor. I give a nod-hello to Mr. Lindsey. We go down the hall, past Dylan's saxophone, and into his class.

He's not happy. He's still packing up and I'm too early. I am not really early. He just likes extra time to organize.

He leaves his class and asks why I picked up Carter and Grady before him. I remind him he asked me to get him last because, as he says, "Dad. You talk to everyone. You take too long."

We walk down the hall, past his saxophone, which we forget to grab.

We take another 10 minutes to get to the car because we are doing what Dylan laments, talking to everyone.

Dylan asks if we can go to 7-11. I say yes. This makes us both happy.

I'm a pick-up dad. I wouldn't change it for the world.

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Comments

  1. Awesome story!!The Principal must have a good memory to be able to remember everyone's names.I have a pretty good memory, I am good with numbers. Anyway keep sending these stories I enjoy reading them.Have a good evening Brian..

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  2. Love this story Brian! Thanks for sharing!!

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