I was picking my fourth grader up from school the other day, and couldn't help but make an observation. As I sat there in "the loop", one of many cars lined up between two schools, I felt like I was viewing a happy ending to an ABC After School Special from the 1980's.
One school houses kids for the day in grades K-3, the other holds almost 800 fourth and fifth graders. When the bell rang, kids bounded from every entrance and it was hard not to see their absolute delight to greet their parents or grandparents, or older siblings and babysitters who were picking them up. Their enthusiasm equally reciprocated upon their arrival.
So what is so strange about that? I, for one, can't wait to see my son standing their with his buddies, backpack over his shoulder, watching our car creep through the loop until I pull up beside him. But every family I saw...and I do mean EVERY family, was either skipping or jumping up and down to see each other, or had hands held and swinging happily, or were engaged in immediate enthusiastic conversation. Even the more shy burst into smiles and were welcomed into a hugs and warm receipt.
I found myself wondering if this day was just a fluke, a sudden ray of sunshine in our busy, suburban parking lot? Or if I was really so fortunate to live in a community that really celebrates their children and parenthood? For the days that followed I found myself actually looking for trouble, some kind of grumpy encounter or tears or anything that would indicate dysfunction. I've yet to find it. How cool is that?
Now I am realistic enough to know that there are certainly many kids I don't see who get on the bus and aren't as happy or as fortunate to go home to a Mary Poppins existence. All communities have families with problems and ours is no different. Even the giddy ones greeted at the school door may have meltdowns the minute they get into their car, or at the start of the homework struggle, or when sibling rivalry sets in. But for at least ten minutes everyday at 3:35pm, it is nice to see such pure delight, boundless energy, and sincere joy and affection between kids and their families and friends.
So today I am thankful to live in a place where I get to see this kind of interaction everyday....well, at least until middle school. Even then, who knows?