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The Parental Pick-Up Bandits

It seems that when a parent picks up their child from a friend's house, the formality of parking, coming to the door, making introductions and saying “thank you” is a thing of the past.

Just as the vernacular has changed, it seems that something else has too. When a parent picks up their child from a friend's house, the formalities of parking, coming to the door, making introductions and saying “thank you” are all things of the past.

Over the years, my kids have had all types of friends as guests. I’ve been repetitively reminded that it’s no longer referred to as a “play date” but as “hanging out.” 

While most youthful guests have been welcomed visitors, some parents have forgotten the basic rules of acknowledgment and appreciation when it comes to picking up their child. Most don’t even get out of the car. They’ll text or call their child when they arrive, then wait in the car with beaming headlights and running motor.

There’s no issue with established friends running out the door with a goodbye wave and a friendly honk from mom or dad. However, child retrieval performed by parents I’ve never met, with no acknowledgment, can be disconcerting. Do they not want to know where and with who said child has been staying all day? It just seems odd, almost bothersome, how this practice has become the norm and I’m starting to wonder just how to address it.

If this normalcy happened during my temperamental adolescent years, my mother would easily repeat the embarrassing lecture on etiquette and what’s proper. Now that I’m a parent myself, I understand the basics of validation and appreciation when someone takes the time and effort to be responsible for your child. (My mother loves hearing how right she is.)

At my home, an environment to “hang out” with adult supervision is graciously given. Adolescent guests bounce around the house anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. Rides to parks, practices and movies have also been provided. Dinner invitations are usually offered for the extended-stay guests. Even the Whirlpool has been commissioned off to wash muddy clothes from outside adventures. After all this, there are times I’ve yet to meet Mama Bear. 

I understand we’re all busy and working hard, surviving on limited sleep and hot, caffeinated beverages. I’ve been exhausted countless times while picking up children. I don’t always want to socialize with an unknown mother, filling the room with mindless chitchat while junior slowly rounds up his belongings. But as a parent it’s important to know where your kids are and who they’re “hanging out” with. It’s just as important to thank the parents who take responsibility for your kids.  

I’m not looking for a drawn-out powwow in my family room every single time my kids’ friends are picked up. I would be happy with a quick exchange so that, if nothing else, I can link a name with a face. If I know you, then next time you really can honk in the driveway to call your children home. I’ll toss your kid out the door with a full stomach and wave through the window.

Are you a pickup bandit? Tell us what you think in the comment section below or register your vote on this Patch poll: http://patch.com/A-rSgh.

Philip Co March 28, 2012 at 02:01 PM
@LMH - While it's hard for me to accept lessons in politeness and civility from someone who hides behind anonymity, I accept that it's your prerogative to do so. In the end, that's the difference between us; I respect your perfectly reasonable choice, even though you're unwilling to respect mine. That said, I apologize for having offended you.
Ann C. Jett March 28, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Cami - love this article. I have experienced this as well. Not only have parents just "honked" when picking up but when I'm dropping off a child, a parent comes to the door, the child bolts for the door and before I can make it to the walkway, the door closes. These were short-lived relationships for my children to say the least. I agree that it is a definite statement on how some people choose to raise their children, the importance they place on good manners and common civility. I have never allowed my children to go to a friend's home without walking them to the door, meeting the parents and even chatting up parents whom I'm friendly with. I agree with the previous commentor who said "we are a dying breed." If we hope to produce adults who practice proper social etiquette, we need to start when our children are young. Good manners never go out of style.
LMH March 28, 2012 at 06:42 PM
I have no problem with your position on this issue. You stated yours; I stated mine. It's the overly aggressive tone of your response that's unnecessary.
Ann C. Jett March 28, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Totally agree Mr. Lynch.
Canton Resident May 06, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Kristine -I have made a mental note to do the same as my kids are young and we have always stayed for birthday party invites and have not broached the drop-off playdate arena! Thanks for the great Parenting tip!

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