I admit to being a little bit cynical nowadays. It comes with having taught school so many years and with being as old as I am, although some people turn into sweet little old ladies rather than getting more cynical about the sorry state of mankind. I, however, have been disillusioned so many times. I should know better.
I wait each day in the parent pick-up (PPU) line for my daughter, the twelve-year-old. If a parent is too late, the line will stretch endlessly ahead, her vehicle might even be in the street rather than the school’s carefully designed driveway, and the child will be nearly the last one called (trauma). If a parent is too early, she is doomed to sit there for 45 minutes, studying the brave parents who zoom up to the door, leap athletically out of the car, and go on in the office to DEMAND the child from these education bureaucrats, and bustle back to get in the car and ZOOM away. I, so far, have been too lacking in bustle to zip in and demand my daughter’s presence at 3:05 with only a few minutes left before the bell. I am bored entirely out of my mind, though. I have closely examined everything there is to observe about the front of the school. I usually bring a book, but I have dozed off twice while waiting. This napping is hazardous and leads to other parents having to peer in the window to discover me sleeping while serving my time in the parent pick-up line—a somewhat embarrassing situation. I have tried in vain to find something interesting to look at in the dreary school environment. The boys who are somehow privileged to come out and bring down the flag? (The same boys every day? And are there no flag girls?) Once, I brought our dog Melvin with me to relieve the dullness. He went off into his Melvin Crazyland and barked his fool head off at everyone walking up and down the sidewalk, guarding me with all his twenty-five pounds of beagle-chihuahua (Cheagle?) fierceness. Well, at least I wasn’t asleep that day.
Anyway, I have looked at all the cars in the line at one time or another, looking at the back and reading the letters on the license tags. Sometimes they actually spell something! So one day I was behind a neat little pickup truck, and I noticed that it had the cutest taillights! “That looks like a fleur-de-lis!” I thought happily. “How cute! Maybe there will be a whole bunch of new designs for taillights. Like hearts, or unicorns, or butterflies, or daisies, or your initials, one on each side! Hmmm!”
See, it’s a good idea, right? Maybe I should patent it. Anyway, a couple of weeks later my husband was with me in the parent pick-up line, and I pointed out these “cute” taillights. He said, “That’s a ram, not a flower. It’s a Dodge taillight cover. That’s a Dodge ram.” What? I was very distressed, because now, when I look at the lights, I can’t help but see the ram instead of the fleur-de-lis. Dog gone it. Stuff like this is enough to make anyone cynical, I swear.