Dropping My Anxious Daughter Off at School

Screeching into the school parking lot, seat belts unclick and swish open. Most of the kids are chit-chattering but one of them is full of sighs and trying-not-to-cry. We approach the drop-off curb with only one car behind us. My fingers are crossed that everyone will exit the car. One, two, three children tumble out and run away. One remains. The top of her earmuffs are in my rear-view mirror.

A second car enters the drop-off line.

Anxious stillness. “You have to get out of the car, Grace.” Stillness, aggressively-passive stillness. “You HAVE to get out of the car, Grace.” My neck heats up.

A third car piles up in-line.

I am grieved and frustrated and angry and pity-full. I unbuckle and step out into the lane, not making eye-contact with the other parents.

The chain of cars increases to four.

I open the door, unclick her seat belt, and ashamedly-bristly-hastily remove her from the car. “I DON’T want to go to school.” I know.  I didn’t either.

Walking around to the front of the car and onto the walkway, I place her like a post.

A fifth car arrives and I feel their fists shaking at me: the shame of clogging the line and making them late for work; of placing a slumping child on the curb and walking away. They don’t know how many times this has happened, how many times we have talked and cajoled and threatened and praised and rewarded and cajoled some more.

Her earmuffs are crooked now. Her school bag is dangling in the crook of her arm. Her head is slumped and shoulders begin shaking.

“Dropping My Anxious Daughter Off at School”

by Jesse Brown



Filed under Yellow poetry (enlightening)

3 responses to “Dropping My Anxious Daughter Off at School

  1. Stephanie

    I can really relate to what you write, Jesse, not only as it pertains to our 5-year-old boy but also to my own situation growing up. As a shy person, I was never a big fan of school — and the junior high and senior high years were the roughest.
    And I can remember feeling shame growing up from my inability to easily fit in. Now I see that I have sometimes passed on that shame to my own children when they don’t conform to the way the world around them is behaving. And then I walk away, completely grieved in my own spirit that I’m missing an opportunity to connect with them, accept them for who they are, and help them grow into the person they’re designed to be, not one I think they should be to make the world around them happy.
    Great writing, Jesse. Very heartfelt and honest.

  2. jbrownmetaphors

    I thought that some parents would relate. And, I can relate to not enjoying most of middle and high school (except 8th and 12th grade). I would suggest reading a book, “Quiet” by Susan Cain. Over the summer, it helped me better understand myself as an introvert and how this affected and affects me in social situations. She is well-researched and offers guidance in parenting and in classroom situations. My oldest daughter is also an introvert and I don’t doubt that this has affected her interest in the commotion that is public school.

  3. Linda Willard

    I, too, have a daughter that has anxiety attacks. And I feel your pain. I also suffer from anxiety attacks and take medicine, but at this time I don’t wish to put her on medicine at 15 yrs old. always be open to allow the child to talk to you.


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