Too many mental tabs open today.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't cross me!!

No worries, I'm not talking to my MIL, Republicans or anyone in Congress, in fact I am going to do my very best to keep politics out of this today. I may be all talked out on that subject. I can't promise that I won't post Keith Olbermann's Special Comment though.

This morning D and I did traffic safety at K's school. Every morning hundreds of SUVs roll up to our small school dump out kids ranging in age from 5 to 11, maybe even 12. To make this a quick and safe deposit parents are forced, I mean parents happily volunteer when it's their classes turn. D and I always do this, it's no big deal and it's necessary as D sometimes relies on this method to drop off K. I refuse to do this so on the rare occasion I take her to school, she knows I'm there until the late bell. Sorry K. Anyway the email to our class went out a few weeks ago, it took me a while to get to it, our class and school is clearly email happy so we not only learn what's going on in the class but also get to know who needs a good DJ for an upcoming Bar Mitzvah or info on a lost dog. We figured we'd sign up eventually, but then we were bombarded by more emails. The tone went from firmly asking to begging to guilt. Ugh, fine. I remembered to look and picked 4 days for each of us, together of course, neither one of us would miss the chance to see the other in a hideous orange safety vest. We actually doubled the 4 required spots per family, but that's how we roll, safety first. Now when the emails were sent I could delete them, and they came A LOT! Finally the official list came out last week and I was not shocked to see that the ones sending the emails were hardly on it.

So at 7:45AM this morning D and I stood at Zone C dressed in bright orange ready to open car doors, greet kids and move the traffic along (after we made fun of each other of course). Since it's the week before Spring Break it was pretty slow, then it got closer to 8:10 (when the bell rings). A few parents, especially the ones I know, were friendly and we exchanged greetings while I got their little ones out of the car, they said goodbye to me and the kids took off without saying bye to their parents. This happened so many times I started to get upset. I understand that a curbside drop off makes a hug goodbye a little difficult but not even a "bye!" "see ya!" "have a nice day!" Nothing! Some of these parents didn't even help their kids get stuff out of the trunk, they luckily had automatic trunk openers making any contact unnecessary. I'm not saying all the families were like this but it was about 75% and I'm being nice. The friends I have at the school all passed me on the street as they walked their kids into school and the ones that dropped off, all made an effort to wish their kids a happy day, some of the kids were embarrassed and bolted but some of them leaned over and gave a kiss goodbye.

When the bell rang K ran up to D and gave him a hug and kiss and then she ran over to me, I picked her up and got a wonderful kiss and hug goodbye. As we walked back to the car, sadly our orange vests had gone back in the basket, I asked D about his drop off traditions. He said she tries to make a clean getaway but he does whatever he can to get a proper goodbye.

I get the kids point of view on this, they want to hang with their friends, they want to look cool, they want to start their day. If their mornings are anything like ours things move ridiculously fast, they are just keeping with the pace. I do not, however, see how parents can just ignore their kids, not even say goodbye or even see if they actually walk through the door to the school. I saw parents on the phone, parents drinking giants mugs (yes, giant ceramic mugs) of coffee and even parents reading the newspaper while their children grabbed backpacks, lunchboxes and school projects. I suppose that's the real job of the traffic safety volunteers: To wish the kids a good day, help them with seat belts or booster seats and make sure they have what they need before their parents sped off.

I also see the same thing when I pick K up in the afternoon. I get there early (because parking sucks so badly) and just chill in my car going through emails, listening to music or watching the kids run around the yard. I get out about 10 minutes before the bell and chit chat with the moms I know, make plans for playdates and discuss the latest gossip (I will deny this publicly). When the bell rings K knows that I am there, she even knows where I wait, we usually have a discussion about playing in the yard for a while. Sometimes she does sometimes she doesn't. When she does it's always with the same kids that are left alone, unsupervised, sometimes for hours. Sometimes we take a long time to walk to the car, we look at flowers, wave at friends and take our time. When we drive back around to get home, we still see kids waiting outside for their parents, waiting on a very busy street where drivers rarely notice the speed limit.

I know that some of these kids are older and live up the street, this doesn't bother me so much, it's the 6 and 7 year old first graders, K's friends that should not be left to wait. Sure there's our crossing guard G who knows every single family and most of the kids by name, he does what he can to keep these kids safe but he's only one man. He also has to escort kids and parents across the street. I've actually heard parents say that they don't worry about being late, G will watch the kids.

The irony here is that these parents will generously give cash and donations when the school is in need. They will rally up friends to insure the budgets cuts are not severe and offer to hold fundraising parties in their beautiful homes. They will volunteer for Bookfair and all the great events that occur in our school. This is the knowledge I gain when the gossip starts flowing. None of these things happen anonymously either.

I don't know the point of this post, it just bothered me all day, thinking that these kids didn't start their day the way they should have. Maybe that's why we signed up for so many spots, we can give kids four days of morning greetings, who knows maybe it will rub off on their parents. Maybe when it's their turn they'll see how awful it is to watch a child be ignored at the start of his day.

We are off to traffic safety again tomorrow, D and I will be waiting at Zone C in bright orange vests with big smiles, hoping that maybe some kids will start their school day with a smile. Trying to fix a problem, not by throwing money at it but by throwing some compassion to it.

Hope it rubs off. The compassion, not the orange, it's an awful color.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree and have witnessed this same thing. In our family we split the drop off duties for our child. We have the ritual of kissing and hugging goodbye before departing for school for the benefit of the parent not driving him to school. On the days when I drop our boy off at school I'm often on my way to work and use the program for which you trained in traffic safety. However, I make the added effort, despite his desire to bolt to class and get learning, to always say "goodbye, I love you, have a great day" and reach over for a kiss (without fear of embarrassment). On the days when we pick him up it's a different story. We park early, wait for him at the same place so there's consistency and he can feel confident and safe that there will always be one of his parents there to greet him. We use the walk on the way back to the car to review the events of the day prior to grabbing an after school treat. Thanks for reminding other parents to put down their mobile mug, makeup, newspaper and make the effort to say goodbye properly for the moment is so fleeting.