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Lessons as a Crossing-Guard
Much Fun with a Stop Sign and an Orange Vest
I’m a crossing guard.
At least for this month, as my kids’ school can’t seem to hire anyone for the job, so I’m volunteering on our nearest corner, shepherding a couple of dozen kids across a busy intersection morning and afternoon. With my enormous Stop Sign.
It’s fun and perhaps the coolest gig I ever had, and one I highly recommend.
Why, you might ask?
I get to greet every child, every morning. What could be cooler than that, and it’s a good start to my day, and hopefully theirs. After all, morning home routines are not always pleasant nor smooth, so I might be the first person to smile and greet them on any given day.
My goal is to be cheerful and treat them respectfully, perhaps even getting a smile, which we know from science can affect their whole day.
Plus, when you smile and greet 20 kids every morning, it surely brightens your mood and morning, too. It does mine, and sets a good positive tone for my day.
It’s also interesting to see the attitudes, responses, and general demeanor of the kids, who age from about 9-14. They are each remarkably consistent, as the few glum or very shy ones are always the same, day after day, while the happy friendly ones are likewise similar each morning and afternoon.
Most kids are very polite, you might even say well-bred, and often they greet me, ask how I am (that question from several kids this morning), and almost always thank me and/or hope I have a good day.
Simple as it is, being a crossing guard is an important responsibility, as this school has children as young as 9 walking to school on their own - that’s at or below the age kids are good at crossing the road themselves.
Plus, this area has lots of traffic due to lots of parents also dropping kids off nearby, so it’s easy to get 5-10 cars backed up two or three different ways, which is no fun for small kids (nor adults) to navigate on their own.
And in recent mornings, the sun is right in drivers’ eyes as kids are crossing, making it very, very easy to turn and hit them without even realizing it. So the big tall crossing guard guy in an orange vest with an enormous stop sign feels quite important.
Diversity in Many Ways
It’s interesting to see the diversity of kids and parents, though sadly not much in terms of race in my neighborhood - there are two Black kids, lots of Asians, and about half white kids. But quite a bit diverse in terms of dress and demeanor.
However, the biggest diversity is in parental ‘control’ or what one might call “helicoptering” - there are many very small 9-year-olds walking on their own, and then several 10-12 year-olds walked by their parents all the way to school, especially girls.
This is probably not good for them.
I’m all for safety since, after all, that’s why I’m there, but coddling your kid and shepherding them to and from school every day as a tween is probably not great for their independence. And especially not good for girls and their self-confidence.
Let your kids go, on their own, as soon as they possibly can.
Overall, this is a very fun gig, so I’m enjoying it while it lasts, and I hope you can find ways to likewise volunteer in your community, with kids, and around town.