Monday, August 13, 2012

It’s Back to School

The house is peacefully quiet.  The neighborhood streets are empty.  There are no abandoned bicycles or scooters laying on their sides or basketballs left in the gutter.  For a few hours a day I can drive without worry of munchkins darting out into the street or walk quietly without the screaming and yelling of “Tag!  You’re it” when I’m not even playing.

Of course, all this peace and quiet comes with a couple of obstacles.  Twice a day traffic creeps along at fifteen miles per hour in front of schools dotted along busy thoroughfares in order to protect small children and crossing guards alike.  Sometimes police officers are staked out with their radar guns to catch the forgetful motorist.

And we do forget.  I mean, really, who wouldn’t?  Most people aren’t thinking about school and unless you have a tax exemption enrolled in one, you wouldn’t necessarily know when school started.  We’re used to driving down these roads at forty-five miles an hour and instead of sticking the school back in the middle of a neighborhood where kids can walk safely to class, they’ve built it on a major road.  So now, the driver screaming out to Rihanna in a voice best used with the windows up, suddenly sees the flashing yellow light blinking “Slow down ! Slow down!”  He hits the brakes, screeching tires as the officer just waves him off to the side of the road for a speeding ticket that equals half of his electric bill.

The sad part is that about three o’clock, he’s driving down the same road and he’s already forgotten his experience of that morning as he is too busy texting some funny one-liner to Facebook.  Except now he’s given a warning sign, which out of necessity slows him down because it’s a long line of eager parents waiting to pick up little Johnnie just as soon as the bell rings.  To be honest, this part I never understood.  Parents will go to the school thirty minutes early and wait for the bell to ring just so they can be first in line.  Of course, if they showed up last they would only have to wait fifteen minutes and all of the other cars would be gone and the kids walking home would be safely past the first crossing guard.  It’s safer and saves time to be last in this case and allows the small child to get some of his socializing done before he gets home.

Of course, then you have some parents who refuse to wait in line no matter what.  They arrive right as the final bell rings, park their car and walk up into the beehive of hyper children to grab their precious bundle of adolescence and head back to the car.  Their impatience only adds to the congestion and of course, they’re going to walk in front of you just as you’re about to inch forward with their arm up and hand out as if they’ve got the same power as a crossing guard.  I hate that.  Really, I do, and for a couple of reasons.  When jaywalkers think their arm is going to protect them from my front grill, it only makes me want to rev my engine and take aim.  Furthermore, I find parents who take chances with their children by weaving them among moving cars to be irresponsible and in need of a spanking.

The stores have been crazy as well, each one resembling Wal-Mart at Christmas time.  Of course, after about a week of chaos, this turns into a bonus feature for me, because now I can schedule my shopping trips during the school hours.  I can walk up and down the aisles unmolested by obnoxious kids whose parents need a time out.

I am also able to enjoy fine dining establishments such as McDonald’s and Burger King without the musical accompaniment of screaming kids unhappy with the toy in their kid’s meal.  Traffic is less congested and the roads more enjoyable.  I can sit at the beach and enjoy the serenity of it without getting sand kicked into my coffee.  Of course, this limits the amount of mom’s sun bathing in skimpy bikinis, but it’s almost winter anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.

I enjoy kids, don’t get me wrong.  However, I don’t enjoy parents who refuse to actually parent their child.  School is a vacation for all of us who have a low tolerance for rude and unruly children.  Now, if they would only force the parents to go as well or at least offer mandatory classes to those who make parenting less of a priority than they should, I might be able to enjoy my entire day. 

Teachers are heroes, in my opinion.  Not because they teach and it’s a low paying, quite often underappreciated occupation, oh no.  They chose to be a teacher knowing all of that in advance.  They could have selected another profession.  No, teachers are heroes because not only do they deal with thirty-five plus students per day and even more in the middle and high schools, they also deal with at least two parents per child.  If you factor in divorce and remarriage, it could be up to four parents per child.  That’s quite a bit of personalities to put up with for ten months.  I don’t even want to deal with my kids’ parents.

I salute the educators of the world.  It’s because of you that I get peace and quiet every year.  Thank you, from the bottom of my sanity.
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