The Car-line Conveyor Belt

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been jealous of some intrepid souls in 4 wheel drive that have hopped out of the morning car line, pulled on to the grass in front of the school and deposited their children. I wasn’t the only one who noticed; the practice got a stern condemnation in the school newsletter. This morning as I was sucking the exhaust of the car in front of me an intimidating pick up took a sharp left and his offspring disembarked on the grass. There’s no way he didn’t get the message. Between e-mail, notes home, weekly phone calls, newsletters, morse code and carrier pigeons our elementary school is on top of it when it comes to communication. He had a brush guard and some alien notion that his child might survive the 20 feet to the school doors.

The morning car line has 2 or 3 staff opening doors, picking up dropped book bags and escorting each child out of the car. The afternoon car-line would make Frank Morris put his paper mâché head aside and say “Forget it”. You must have your number (which corresponds to one on your inmates personal effects) prominently displayed, a teacher calls that number into a walkie talkie and another teacher gets your child out of the line up and passes them off to be placed in your vehicle. My 1st grader normally rides the afternoon bus (another topic, another time) so I get the third degree and soup-nazi disdain on the rare occasion I have to use the car line. I won’t be surprised when we start air dropping the kids right into their classes or install intricate bank tube tunnels under the town that have the children pop up whack-a-mole style in their desks. Does anyone remember walkers? Not the ones on AMC-though almost as outlandish a concept these days- I mean the segment of the school population way back when that actually WALKED to and from school. We were the majority at one time, donning our back-packs and trudging home from school. Unthinkable.

I’m all for safety and I know the school is doing what it feels best and most parents are perfectly happy with this strict and efficient system. In fact I know parents who have moved to other schools and consider anything less complete bedlam. I can’t help but wonder what the bigger cost may be.

I have a letter that my mother tapped out for me on the typewriter I received as a birthday gift:

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My parents trusted and had enough confidence in me to navigate the big, bad world all by myself. They were proud of me for it. I was pretty dang proud of myself. What are we telling kids when we don’t allow them to and from a car alone? That they’re not capable? That the world even between their trusty school and their waiting parent is too dark and dangerous to go alone? How will they build confidence and self reliance?

That pioneering parent in the dually may just not give a rats patoot about rules and is pressed for time but I bet his child doesn’t feel like a nitwit.

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