Thursday, August 20, 2009

Crossing Over to a New School Year

Second day of school. Johnny and Richie watched for the crossing guard's Cadillac to pull in across the street. Then they bolted out the door in their white shirts with no chocolate milk stains and their blue shorts that haven't faded to purple yet. They sprinted past preschool parents walking their shy kids to school, crossed with the guard, and jogged up to their school door.

Yesterday, I assumed I'd walk them to school, but Johnny said, "We're going to try to get there real fast." I guess their old lady would just slow them down.

Richie said he was the only first grader whose parents didn't walk him in. "Were you sad?" I asked.

"No," he said. "I might as well get used to it."

I saw a glint of pride in his eyes. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd said, "I guess I'm the only kid who can get myself to school without a bunch of grownups hovering around me. Maybe I should be in charge of things from now on."

I wanted to be hover, but I settled for watching from our front yard. We're so close, I can see their whole path, which satisfies my parental paranoia. As they run, Johnny waves, without really looking, at everyone he knows, and when Johnny waves, Richie waves. Then Ed, the crossing guard, walks them across the street.

Crossing guards are the best, don't you think? They're always sweet, friendly people, but they cross you; you DO NOT cross them. When drivers get frustrated that they have to wait for children to cross the street, Ed just glances at them, and the driver is like, "You're right. I'm an A-hole. Of course, the children's education comes before me not being two minutes late. If I'd wanted to get there on time, I should have dragged my lazy ass out of bed earlier."

Sometimes, I think he uses mind control. He looks at traffic, and everybody just calms down.

We had a crossing guard growing up with two-inch fashion nails. When she walked she held them out beside her, like she was walking on a tight rope in high heels. Sweet as pie. We would run to the corner just to have more time to talk to her. But if you were a driver, you better have fallen in line, son. She would hit your hood with the palm of her hand as soon as look at you. That stop sign doubled as a Samurai sword. Back off, jack off! I do love crossing guards, fearless protectors of our children.

Anyway, the kids love school. In a few weeks, their white shirts will be sweaty, untucked and milk chocolate. They'll drag themselves to school in a combat crawl, moaning, "Why is school evvvverrrry day?" But for now, they love it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad to hear they love it. I've been meaning to call and find out. Did they inforce the personal goal to talk less? love, Mom

11:31 AM  
Blogger Tim Higgins said...


Your observation that crossing guards are the best is right on target. One of the great shames in life is that we grow (or at least think we grow) out of the need for them. Like Richie, we are often far too eager give up the protection of those whose only wish is to aid us in our rush to get there ourselves.

4:42 PM  

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