Drop-off offense

When I started 1st grade my mom walked me to school for about 2 weeks and then decided that I was big girl now and could manage on my own. I think she secretly followed me a couple days and then she worried for a few more – and that was that.

I, on the other hand, pick my son up from school every day. It is just a little too far for him to go by himself from school to after-school especially given the four lane street he would have to cross. Admittedly, where I grew up streets weren’t four lanes wide.

The other day the pick-up here, drop-off there routine was upset by an important and unmovable meeting happening very soon after drop-off time. I figured, if I got my son to move reasonably fast – which is like willing a copy machine into copying faster – cut the chit-chat at drop-off, and hit all the traffic lights just right I might be able to make it with three minutes to spare.

The daily drop-off ritual, pic: © Steven Pepple | Dreamstime.com

Great plan, but as always in such cases, this turned out to be the one day where the teacher wanted to speak to me because of some incident involving my child (for once he was hit by someone accidentally and didn’t do the accidental hitting himself – relief) and so we were running terribly late. Ruthless mother that I am I thought up the following obnoxious plan: “Boy” I said “I am going to drop you off right where we always park. You my big, smart boy walk the ten steps to the door, open it, and run in – all by yourself.”

“Yeah, a real drop-off” my big, smart and increasingly independent boy said and couldn’t wait to get out of the car without mom in tow.

Boy, did I get in trouble for this in the evening when I picked him up. Turns out everybody under the age of 12 needs to be signed in by a parent else the school gets fined. 12?? Sign-in?? Please! My mom had to take care of her baby sister at the age of 11 and I – who was way less responsible than that – worked in restaurant kitchens for pocket money at 12.

I can see that you wouldn’t abandon a three-year old in the parking lot and leave him to wonder around and eventually end up in some neighbor’s front yard. But a six-year old? Come on, on the one hand we expect them to say, understand, and believe sentences like “it really hurts my feelings if you say unfriendly things to me and I wish you would make wiser choices” but then they can’t walk 10 steps, open a door and sign themselves in – once in a very big while, when mom is running late and is still waiting in the car to see whether those 10 steps are taken, the door is opened, and the kid disappears safely behind it.

In an attempt to avoid any even the remotest of risks from our children’s life I am afraid we will turn them into adolescents who will need mom’s help well into their 30s.

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