This year our school district announced that it would no longer provide bus services to students who lived within a 1 mile radius of the school—budget cuts. With only one vehicle, this put us in an inconvenient position. My wife would now have to tack on an extra few hours to her day catching a series of buses to and from work, while I keep the minivan just so I could use if for couple short trips to get the kids.
By no means were we the only ones dealing with the inconvenience, which meant there would be a substantial increase in the amount of car-rider traffic. The administration anticipated this, but despite their best efforts, holy frijoles, what a mess! It looked like the parking lot at Reliant Stadium after a Texans game let out. Cars everywhere–all doing their own thing, all ignoring the teachers’ direction, and students darting in and out of traffic on top of it.
Within a month, though, the staff put in place clear guidelines that brought the situation under control, making drop off and pick up a smooth operation. And for our family, we even solved our little conundrum with me biking the kids to and from school so my wife could get home before Letterman started.
In situations like this, especially at school, I can’t keep from watching how parents handle being inconvenienced. The large majority usually adhere to whatever’s been put out, but there’s always a minority who do whatever they want regardless. In the car-rider line, people still try to use the lane meant for buses because it’s quicker. They cut other cars off and argue with the staff. They even let their kids out right in the middle of the street.
As a bike rider, I am focused on the kids’ safety, and tend to notice when parents are ignoring the previously stated procedures. Granted, I may be a tad hyper-sensitive about the situation, but for a couple hours every weekday, the greatest concentration of selfish a-holes on the planet (aside from Congress) can be found driving just outside of my kids’ school.
I have a short list of things that always tick me off, and parents who demonstrate a blatant disregard for the rules are near the top. Sure, we’ve all broken a few rules in front of our kids. What I’m talking about, however, are those who do this on such a regular basis they see it as perfectly acceptable, and when they’re called on it, they proceed to throw a big hissy fit as if the rest of the world is wrong and they alone are right.
After four months it’s easy to spot the repeat offenders. One dad, for example, stops short of the drop off line, pushes his two children out the door, does a U-turn, and then hauls out of there well above the posted speed. Meanwhile, his kids take off running toward the school because as the little girl once yelled back to her brother, she was scared of all the cars. I think their dad’s name is Richard Cranium.
Another mom thinks that if the crossing guard isn’t standing in the exact middle of an intersection then it’s okay to make a left-hand turn. A couple of days ago, this lady let her kids out at the intersection (a stated no-no), and then started her hallmark left turn before realizing she was about to run over her own kids! How is that possible? She was talking on her cell phone …which, as a sign posted 15 feet away indicates, is illegal in a school zone.
Watching all of this go down, I muttered something heard only in R-rated movies and the Sopranos. That’s when my stepdaughter pointed to the kids. “Those two are really bad in school. They go to the principal’s office a lot.”
When they got closer, I recognized the boy. He was the one who, last month, told a teacher to her face that he didn’t have to listen to her after she asked him to wait until the crossing guard signaled it was safe to cross the street. It was so shockingly defiant, the teacher couldn’t even respond. And the kid took off.
Here’s my point. I can tell my children to do this and to not do that all day long, but, even though they might be listening, what they are really doing is watching. Do I say one thing but then do another? Do I blow off their school’s rules? It’s a simple truth; so simple that I can sometimes forget it. Actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to observant children.
And to the mom who almost ran over her kids, don’t expect your kids to follow the rules if you’re not willing to follow them yourself.
Photo Credit: Wiki Commons Public Domain