Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Dear Fellow Parents

I need all of us to slow down. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Take another. Aaah. Out. Nice, huh?

Let’s think about something here, OK? Let’s think about ten minutes and the various ways it can go by.

If I’m going to sit down with a cup of coffee and the newspaper for ten minutes, it goes by in a flash.

If, however, I’m sitting in my car at a dropoff line waiting for the cars in front of me to move, ten minutes is an eternity! Longer! It is a maddening, frustrating, horrific, oughta-be-a-law-agin-it length of time.

Same length of time. Same number of seconds have tick-tocked past. But one is a too-short burst of pleasure, while the other is a painful reminder of just how little time we have on this planet for more pleasurable things.

In other words, it is a matter of attitude, of perception. In which case…it is up to us to decide which we’re going to be. (Damn that personal responsibility crap!!)

Now. Let us turn our attention to the second case. We are sitting in the pickup line at school, waiting for our adorable offspring to sally forth. It is 11:50. They will come out at 12:00.

Walking down the line of cars and suggesting that other parents pull their vehicles into the red zone to make more room in the parking lot will not magically turn 11:50 into 12:00. The children are still not emerging from the classroom. Which means that not one of these cars ahead of you will be budging, for ten more minutes.

In point of fact, the people who were ahead of you, who are now sitting in the illegal red zone…are still ahead of you. They are still in your way. You have gained nothing. The parking lot is still full. There is still nowhere to go. Only now, they blocking both you AND any emergency vehicles which ($DEITY forbid) need to come down that fire lane.

It is still 11:50, and you still must wait ten minutes for the traffic to begin to move. It has far more to do with the planet’s rotation than it does with whether or not someone is blocking the fire lane to create more room back in the pickup line.

Take a deep breath. There you go. And another. Because I’m about to tell you something very, very depressing.

You will be doing this, Oh Mother of Only One Child Who Just Started Preschool At Whom We Mothers of Many Laugh Every Time You Open Your Mouth to Tell Us How Horrible and Unacceptable This Situation Is, for the next ten, twelve years – easy.

Yes! That’s right!! Ten times per week, for forty weeks of the year, you will be facing this “unmitigated nightmare” of People In Front Of You Going Nowhere. Here. Have a sip of water. It’ll be OK. Just sit there and breathe for a minute.

You have four ways of dealing with it.

Arrive early! This way, you can be the person blocking the whole parking lot, instead of being the caboose.

Arrive late! This way, you rush into the emptied parking lot, snatch your child and run for it, almost without even slowing down!

Suck it up and bring a book (or your knitting)! This way, you can create of this horror a ten minute oasis in the middle of your day.

Or, finally, don’t deal with it at all! Walk! Bus! Park in the overflow lot and hike the crummy hundred feet! That way, you don’t have to deal with us at all – you can zip right on out and be on your merry way, regardless of what the regular lot is doing! (Why more parents don’t do this is beyond me, actually, especially if you’ve only got one kid in tow…on those rare occasions when I’ve only got one kid with me, I am there!!)

And all that be said, may I point out: We were all gone – every single one of us – within precisely eight minutes of the bell ringing. All of us. The ‘unacceptably’ huge line, the horde, the ‘impossibly backed up’ parking lot was empty by 12:08.

Think about it. Think about how you would have felt if you had only been given eight minutes for a bubble bath, or eight minutes for a cocktail, or eight minutes with a good book.

Speaking of which, seriously? Bring a book. Bring a craft. The newspaper. Good tunes. A coffee and a chocolate bar. Slow it down, take it easy, enjoy this time. Make it such that instead of chomping at the bit you’re groaning, “Aw, MAN! I was just getting to the good part!!” when the cars start moving.

Because let’s face it: most of us are not rushing off to endless Fun and Excitement. No way. Most of us are picking up our darlings and heading home to the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, the endless nitpicking little stupid things we fill our lives with and consider ever-so-important because otherwise we’d think our lives somewhat shallow and empty and full of endless hours that need filling.

If for no other reason, enjoy it just to spite the Demon of Niggling Little Irritations. Don’t worry. He’s used to it. Might even get a laugh out of it. Right after he sets every single traffic light on your route home to turn red…

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

What are the chances they will print this, anonymously, in the next preschool newsletter?