Will someone please explain to me what happens to perfectly rationally thinking adults as they enter a school zone?
This week’s column has been building for a number of weeks… well, six to be exact (precisely when school started). In all fairness to the irrational, we’ll say five and give everyone an excuse for the first week.
The first week is always the toughest on everyone, isn’t it?
The lazy days of summer abruptly yanked out from under us. Returning to the routine of being somewhere before a bell, packing a lunch, clean clothes at the ready — it really is all a bit much — all at once.
I’m not a ‘drop-off’ mom; those days are still ahead of me. Staying true to my self appointed title as “Semi-Heli,” (semi-helicopter mom), I still enjoy walking my son into school and waiting with him for the first bell.
We always enjoy a last minute conversation as we walk from our car to school each morning - just the two of us. The conversation, however, is often interrupted by my cautioning him to step back on the sidewalk as a vehicle tightly turns the corner to get their precious cargo to school on time.
Recently, I myself was almost ‘taken out’ as I entered a crosswalk a block from our school. First bell had rung, I said my goodbyes to my student and proceeded back to our car. Apparently my 5’10” stature in hot pink running shorts was overlooked by a mom as she turned the corner and skidded to a stop inches from my left leg.
The best part was the look of disgust on her face and shock on her child’s. Apparently, my presence and poor timing was making them late (insert sarcasm here).
Honestly, I think a psychological study could be done on this topic. I mean think about it, we stand on the platform of raising well-balanced, selfless, responsible children. Then we get in the car three minutes later than our normal schedule and drive like a crazy person to make up for the time.
Better yet, are the parents who drive up nicely, release their cargo and then exit the school area at a rate of speed to rival Speed Racer. Yep, there you go, my kid is safe - every man for himself.
Now, I feel it necessary to also point out that these might also be the same parents that in ten years time will sit and marvel over what has happened to their child. “Why are they so self-centered and insensitive to others?” Just a guess.
I would be in severe denial if I did not share that we ourselves have our own late mornings. Coordinating a four-year-old and seven-year-old on a school morning is a skill. Some days go better than others. Speed, however, is never really an option. Instead that drive to school becomes torture for my children, as they get to listen to mommy speak incessantly about how important it is to be ‘on time.’ How disrespectful it is to me and their teachers, as well as classmates to be late. Of course followed by, “Well, you may have to go to the office and wait in that big line for a pink slip to get into class.”
Yes, I am a mommy who operates under the ‘Fear of the Pink Slip.’ It is a strategy that seems to work, with my ‘by the book’ son. We’ll see how we fare with his sister.
What saddens me most, is that this is not the first time I have penned a column on this topic. I recently posted my disgust and disappointment on my personal Facebook page. Many friends agreed with my sentiments, but one post put it quickly in perspective.
My cousin happens to live in The City (known by most as San Francisco). He commented, “As a pedestrian in the city, I risk my life every day either on the streets or MUNI!”
This was a tongue in cheek comment, yet at the same time it made me think.
That is real life, isn’t it? We will always be surrounded by people who put themselves first. People who are not concerned with the consequences of their actions until perhaps it is too late. Even people who almost mow you down in a crosswalk and then look at you as if to say, “Why are you in my way?”
So, what lesson do we teach our children from this?
There is a phrase I began saying to my son when he began walking. It was prompted shortly after he jumped out of an aisle at “Bullseye Boutique” (commonly known as Target). His quick movement almost had him plowed down by a shopping cart. As I quickly pulled him back, I stated, “Jackson, you have to be careful. Big people, don’t always see little people.”
In the case of pedestrian traffic and the Commando drivers perhaps we need to just reiterate the importance of being responsible for our own actions.
Example: It would be better to be a few minutes late and stand in the “Pink Slip” line, versus being carted off in the ambulance because you darted out in front of a car filled with a family that was in a bigger hurry than you.
Sadly, I realize my simple column is not going to halt or even deter the craziness around our town which is commonly known as “taking our kids to school.”
My hope is that this will cross the eyes of the right person and ring true on a morning they may have made a different decision. That when we get behind the wheel to deliver our precious cargo, we breathe and remember our neighbors are doing the same.
Until then, I’ll be watching for you in the crosswalk. Drive safely and slowly and be on the lookout for those pink running shorts. I may not be so forgiving the next time.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.