Friday, March 4, 2016

A Smile and a Wave

Ethan takes the bus in the afternoons, but in the mornings I drive him to school. Now that Dan goes into work earlier, Chloe comes along with us, and getting ready to leave the house usually involves a mad dash to get out the door with everything, on time -- no matter how early we start getting ready.

At the intersection for Ethan's school there is a crossing guard who arrives at her post faithfully every morning. I'm sure she has no inkling that we often measure our mornings by her, that she is often the subject of car conversation.

Over time we have learned that she undoubtedly arrives at her post early but crosses the street to return to her car by about 8:37 (school starts at 8:40). From there she'll wait in her car for a few more minutes before pulling away.

At home we have a challenge -- we've got to get to school before she crosses the street. That means we're running on time and that Ethan has enough time to walk from the drop off point to the front door before being technically "late." If we get to the school and she's already gone, not good. Not good at all.

This crossing guard is a woman of many hats. Literally. I can't recall them all, but in these colder winter months I've seen her sporting ear muffs. An Angry Bird hat and a snowman hat as well. A crocheted hat made to look like an ice cream sundae with a cherry on top. On a rainy day she wore a rain jacket such a bright color of orange neon it woke me up completely. I'm guessing for Dr. Seuss's birthday (when we missed her, as we arrived at school early for a pancake breakfast) she had to have been wearing a Cat in the Hat hat.

The discussion as we approach the school is often, "What'll she be wearing today?" Ethan wants to know where she gets all of these hats. I tell him online -- you can get anything online! Or maybe it's become a sort of mission. Whenever she goes somewhere, and for birthdays and holidays, she collects another one.

She's punctual and creative, but best of all about the crossing guard (I wish I knew her name!) is that she has a smile and a wave for When they drive in. When they leave. She greets every bus. I'm sure she's wonderfully friendly for the few walkers who actually come her way.

The crossing guard gets me thinking once again about the importance of small gestures. It makes me remember that little things aren't so little. That seemingly insignificant moments -- like choosing to wake up in the morning and put on a silly hat and to small and wave -- are choices that can, amazingly, change others, even if just a little.

We can bring joy.

We can, by our punctuality and reliability, help our kids feel safe.

We can be the one smile someone might have seen that morning.

And yes, this all sounds a lot like Mr. Rogers, but you know what? Mr. Rogers was incredible. One day surfing YouTube we came across some old videos from his show, and I sat, mesmerized. So did the kids.

A kind word.


Love and even just good-natured affection towards those around you.

As we drove up to the school today and listened to news on the radio about yet another presidential debate that has descended to the gutter, that is little more than a farce; well, the crossing guard provided a dose of a sweeter reality.

I must be light, and life. I mustn't despise the little things.

All of that, from a woman with a collection of silly hats. All of that, from a smile and a wave.

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