Whew! Taking off my Neighborhood Activist hat with great relief.

The postcard came about 10 days ago. Our neighborhood elementary school needs to increase the size of its parking lot by 50 spaces (50!) and they scheduled a presentation to show our neighborhood the plan and ask for input. (!?!) Although it *is* a mess over there at pickup and dropoff times, this is apparently also some kind of state requirement. Say what? This cranky old kayak woman thinks that kids should walk to school. I know that’s an impossibility in a lot of cases and that buses are here to stay. But yaknow, when my kids were over at Haisley, there were kids who were regularly driven to school from a block or two away. And they drive fast down Duncan Street, where the entrance to the school is. Once my friend Vicki’s cat got hit and lost a leg. I drove the “ambulance” that day. What a mess and it is a mess.

Well, okay. They are going to increase the size of the parking lot. I live on the *other* side of the school from the parking lot. My kids could walk to elementary school without crossing a street. We bought this house, in part, because they (our as yet unborn children) could do that. And there is a beautiful little woods behind my house. That woods closed the deal for me. As I perused the postcard, I remembered a former Haisley dictator principal and her plan for dealing with the traffic problem. She wanted to turn our little entrance to the school, which is now a sidewalk between the two sections of the woods, into a ROAD!

That dictator principal has been gone for many years now but I have a long memory and I was hoping against hope that they hadn’t resurrected that. I knew that I had to go to this presentation but I reeeeeeeally wanted to bag it this afternoon. I could claim that it was because of my busy day at work and the need to cook dinner, yada yada yada. In truth, it was my social anxiety that gave me pause. Who would be there? What would the format be like? Would I manage to stick my foot in my mouth? Probably…

In the end, I talked myself down off that ledge. I kept my biz-caz stuff on and accessorized it with my trademark KW polartech socks and sandals. Appearances aren’t supposed to matter but they do. Or not… I slithered along over glare ice to the backside of the school and around to the front door. I am such a ninny that I actually walked *past* the door before steeling myself to actually enter the school. I mean, what’s to be nervous about here. I walked in and outta that school a gazillion times in the nine years I was a parent there.

I forced myself to plod along the hallway to the new “multi-purpose room”, thinking, “they are gonna hear me clod-hopping along this hallway.” Well. Guess what? there were like five (count ’em) people in the room. I called out (where the heck did my social anxiety go?), “Boy, there are a lot of people here!” They laughed and then I started to recognize some of them. As neighbors, don’tcha know… I stammered out my story about the former principal and they and the designs that were presented reassured me that the school district is not going to destroy my woods. And we all reminisced about the days when *everybody* walked to school. Buses were only for the “country kids”. Update! I really wasn’t clear here. They are NOT going to build a new entrance. Only expand the existing parking lot.

I reeeeeeally didn’t want to have to put on my Neighborhood Activist hat. I am not good at that kind of stuff. Unless I can STAY in the background, organizing address lists and other data and writing things. Oh, and I actually got along with that old dictator principal pretty well (but that’d be a whole ‘nother blahg entry).

7 Responses to “Whew! Taking off my Neighborhood Activist hat with great relief.”

  1. Uncly Uncle Says:

    Imagine the thru traffic you will get. A new artery into the sub via the school.

  2. Margaret Says:

    Yay for you!! I don’t put on that activist hat very often either.I should be going to all the school board meetings to have my say around here. I don’t have social anxiety but I do have a strong sense of self-preservation. 😉 5 people, eh?

  3. kayak woman Says:

    That entry is so long and rambly that the fact that they are NOT going to build a new road got lost! So. No, they are NOT going to build a road in through our side of the neighborhood. They are ONLY going to expand the existing parking lot.

  4. jane Says:

    I used to live half a block from Slauson. if I didn’t leave for work before the start of school (or after school started) I could hardly pull out of my street parking spot. it was a total traffic jam! and they were not very nice drivers either — wouldn’t let me pull into traffic because it would slow them down. hey here’s an idea – let your kid walk at least that last half block!!!

  5. kayak woman Says:

    Oh yes!! Jane is absolutely right. The school drop-off crowd is awful! Surly moms* who refuse to follow the traffic flow the school works hard to set up. They really do have a problem at Haisley.

    *And yes, it is mostly the women who act this way. I’m not even going to pretend to be P.C. here.

  6. Pooh Says:

    The other day I subbed for a counselor at the elementary school. I had drop-off and pick-up duty at the circle drive. In the morning rush, a dump truck comes up around the circle. What? Are they dropping off a child on their way to work? No, it pulls around the circle, backing and filling a couple of times to make the short radius. It then pulls down the street and parks on the side, blocking even more traffic. The librarian took off at a run to ask it to please move, but when she got to the house, the homeowner had already told the dump truck to come back in twenty minutes after the rush was over. In the afternoon, it was a UPS truck parked on the street. Sheesh, talk about bad timing!

  7. Kathy Farnell Says:

    I walked to school as a child. I walked to the store, I walked to downtown Royal Oak, I walked everywhere! Without fear. My oldest child walked to school, home for lunch, back to school, and home after school. The district (Clawson) did not have buses and there wasn’t a lunch program in the Elementary Schools. All children walked to school and all children came home for lunch. They assumed that the moms were home, and most of us were. Working moms were a minority.
    Then reports started getting more and more frequent about children disappearing like in the Oakland County Child Killer case. Suddenly, no child was safe. Parents were scared that it was going to be their own child next. (I was one of them) The Kindergarten kids got a bus during the lunch time. The schools started a lunch program so children didn’t have to walk home and back to eat. Parents formed groups to get out and watch the kids walk to school and some parents that were more than a couple of blocks away started driving to and from school.
    Then, times started to change again and moms started to join the work force – some because of “Women’s Lib”, and others out of necessity. The “Cookie Bakers” (as Hilary called us) were becoming a minority. (No mention of parent volunteers, Scout Leaders, etc… coming out of her mouth)
    I guess I could go on about people who drive their kids to school. Many kids are just lazy, I’m sure, but maybe it is easier to drop the kids off on the way to work. (Saves a few day care bucks.) It is a different and crazy world out there today. It is not the same world that we grew up in and it is not the same world our kids grew up in. I don’t know if I would drive my children if they lived within walking distance of their school, but I would be darn sure that there were groups walking together or maybe some parents who were around to help watch them walk to school or even the bus stop which can sometimes be several blocks away for Jr. High and High School Kids.
    If anything has to be done to keep our Children and Grandchildren safe, then we have to do it.
    Also, I am glad that they are not putting a road through your woods. Now, knock out that back wall of the old kitchen so you can enjoy looking at the woods!