One of the many rewarding duties at my job is safety patrol. My permanent spot is at the flag crossing. It is where children and parents walk over the drive-thru lane from the side of the school to the parking lot by the main road. My patrol vest is a shabby orange one that needs a makeover but it grabs attention for sure. I have two student safety patrol members with me in trendy bright green vests and matching neon hard hats. These students and I share a special bond. We are a team. This is where I receive my showering of morning greetings from children crossing the lane and their lovely parents. This is where a few enthusiastic toddlers who accompany their older siblings give me high-five or a good mornin’ cheer. This is where my legs get squeezed with affection by little crossers as I firmly hold the sign to stop oncoming traffic. As parents drop off their children, I am bombarded with many different versions of have a good day. Some are subtle utterings, some are more vivacious, but all impact my daily life in a significant way, like little doses of energy to fuel my day.
But the crosswalk isn’t always as positive a junction. Often times a rushed parent disobeys a rule and leaves us all alarmed and confused. Perhaps they are late for a meeting, or they aren’t feeling well, or maybe something is going on in their lives that is occupying their mental space. And so they make a choice that leaves us all bewildered.
We also witness pockets of social exchanges. I’ve heard stories of travels and weekend shenanigans. Once in a while there’s a whiff of tale that scratches my ears. Other times, I am invited for a deeper involvement.
As I look back on the days when I was younger and kids walked to school alone, I realize how the world has evolved into a more complex setting. Stranger danger, street crime, or reckless drivers are all fears a parent has. But are these fears misplaced and are we too obsessed with our overprotective quirks and helicopter parenting? Have the times really changed or are we living amidst a self-created social paranoia? I don’t know the answer. All I know that when I am on the crosswalk every morning, it is endearing to see a daddy hold his child’s little and trusting hand across the street safely and give him a reassuring hug. It is heartwarming to see a mom take the extra two minutes before her incredibly busy day and listen to her child’s early morning rant. It doesn’t matter if the world has changed or not. What matters is that we readjust our lives to keep the bonds steady and strong. And so if it means walking my child across the crosswalk, I would totally embrace it!