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Parenting Guilt and School Drop-Offs

Every day I drop off my two girls at the local Montessori school. I am on my way to work, so they go to an early morning program in the basement before classes start.

The school is not technically open so someone has to open the doors.

And because the doors are locked, I have to wait while the girls bang on the basement window like a couple ruffians. It’s clearly not the ideal set up, especially for busy dads.

Without fail Qiqi, my 10-year-old, accuses me of abandoning them as she gets out of the car.

“Don’t drive off this time,” she screams.

“I never drive off,” I yell back.

“You do it EVERY time,” she states as she kicks the school door.

Now Lourdie, my 6-year-old, has gotten into the act. “Don’t leave us, poppa!”

Great. First thing in the morning and I’m being accused of neglect by my own kids. I tell them that the school is legally obligated to let them in. State law require that they have to be educated until they are emancipated (fingers crossed) at the age of 16.

I remind them patiently that I have done my legal and moral obligation of actually stopping, not slowing, the car down while they get out. Everything else is gravy. And, that I need to get to work.

None of my rational, and increasingly emotional, arguments disabuse them of their confidence in my wanton disregard for their safety. I admit that they have a point, however negligible. Over some 300 drop-offs, I may have absentmindedly driven away after they got out three times. Or 1%.

And then there was the time a couple of years ago when I dropped Qiqi off. I started slowly driving away while watching her bang on the door. I was still driving while I watched her begin kicking the door and waving to me. Then I looked around and noticed that the parking lot was empty. Qiqi was frantic.

I drove back around to get her. We walked to the principal’s office in the other building. I thought maybe the morning program was cancelled. The administrative offices were all empty, too.

I looked at Qiqi: “Do you even have school today?”

Qiqi replied, “YES . . . I think so . . . How should I know?”

Me: “Because you go to this school!”

Even though I was furious with her, I was glad that I had stayed. I called my girlfriend and we figured out that we forgot school was closed that day. I called the babysitter and she was happy to watch Qiqi for the day.

While it is annoying to be accused of doing something I don’t do, I try to put myself in their shoes. The world is a big and scary place. Home is too far away to walk and they are not ready to take care of themselves.

I should be happy that they see me as having the potential to protect them.

Even if they have to remind me sometimes.


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[author_info]About the Author

Steven de Polo is a Prime Parents’ Club regular contributor and father of three daughters. He dislikes long division and the idea that his princesses may start dating before they reach the age of 40. You can find more of Steven’s work at
Steven de Polo is 44 years old and lives in Grand Rapids, where he works in foundation relations at Grand Valley State University. Steven is divorced and has been in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, with whom he is raising an 9-year-old girl adopted from China and a 5-year-old girl from Haiti. His Jamaican-American stepdaughter works in New York City and plans to get her CPA license. Steven enjoys being a dad, especially the trips to the comic book store and getting barbecue spare ribs. He dislikes long division and the idea that his princesses may start dating before they reach the age of 40. He supports Kids Food Basket and is on the board of the Local First Educational Foundation.


  1. Prime Parents Club

    January 23, 2012 at 7:39 am

    As usual, I so appreciate your honesty … mixed with humor. Thanks for that.

    • Ann Arbor with Kids

      January 23, 2012 at 7:51 am

      Sounds like they need a long term solution. If the before care is open, the kids shouldn’t have to bang on the door.

      Our K-8 school has the brilliant idea that everyone can be dropped off in the 3 minute window between first and second bell. This year they added auditorium supervision for the 30 minutes before school starts. Otherwise it was kids wandering the building or unsupervised on the playground & then a mad individual rush to find their classroom. I remember playground supervision & lining up by class to go inside.

      Fortunately I do pickup.

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