It’s that time of year again. Kids are back in school, or will be shortly. And that means new teachers, new classrooms, sometimes even new schools. This is the first year I’m staff only at the elementary school where I work. I’m a paraeducator, or teacher’s aide for part of the day and yard duty for part of the day. My kids have moved on to high school and middle school.
We go back on a Thursday in our district. That way we only have two days of settling in and going over the rules before we have a full week for jumping right into classwork and assessments. Which means, it takes until the following Monday or Tuesday before people start breaking the rules.
The one that bothers me the most is the drop-off line. At the middle school where my youngest son now attends, there is a huge backup. So people get impatient. And they start ignoring the rule for where to let their student out of the car. There is a sign on the sidewalk that says “NO PARKING. NO STOPPING. NO STANDING.” So that is where half the kids get out of their cars. The driver still needs to go through the designated drop off area in order to get back to the street. By letting their student off at the sidewalk,it saves one whole minute.
But really, what are you teaching your children? That rules are meant to be broken? Convenience is more important than safety? Your time is more valuable than mine?
I am also a staff member at the elementary school. Our campus was built long before traffic became an issue. There is no easy way to get to the campus. The front of the school is for buses only. Narrow streets and hills make access difficult. Add in the road work and tree trimming the city has decided to start the same week as back-to-school time, and I get that it’s a major pain in the patootie to get to school. I did it for ten years.
How do you think your child should start their day? With a “Good morning. I like your backpack/new shoes/Giants t-shirt/smile.” Or “Could you remind your mom/dad/grandparents/babysitter that you’re not supposed to be dropped off in the back lot? They can park there and walk you up, or drop you off in the designated drop-off spot.” I’d tell the parents that, but they already ignored the permanent sign at the entrance of the parking lot, the neon green sign tacked to the back wall, and the friendly reminders in the weekly newsletter. They also peeled out of the lot before I could catch them, and instead of chasing them down, I was greeting the children and reminding them to walk, helping tie a shoe, or admiring a homework project.
We have really great kids at our school. Eager to learn, willing to please, and sometimes torn between doing what their teachers and support staff tell them to do and what their parents tell them. How confusing for our youngsters who are dropped off late and told to “Run.” But then they’re reminded to “Walk, please.”
Trust me, we don’t spend our unpaid summers off thinking up ways to make your day more difficult. We want what you want, a safe, secure environment for your children so we can focus on helping your children learn.
Rules exist for a reason. Most of the time, the intentions are good. Safety for instance. Imagine approaching an intersection and no one obeyed the traffic signals. Red light? Green light? Doesn’t matter, each driver is going to go when they feel like it. Ever sit at a four way stop sign and watch two cars from one side go before you get your turn? It ticks you off, doesn’t it? What about when you approach at the same time as another car and neither of you go. Then you both start. Then stop. Whose turn is it? We could be here all day.
I’m a fairly new author, even though I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. But when I joined a professional writers group, Romance Writers of America, I learned there were many rules about writing. These are in addition to the basic rules of grammar and the English language.
Imagine a book written without spaces or punctuation. It could contain the most brilliant insights into the human experience, but I wouldn’t want to read it. Too much work. Or what about a romance that the hero and heroine never meet or interact with each other? Sorry, not interested. And spare me the book that does not have a satisfying ending. There are some ideas that need to stay inside the box. For me, a happy ending is a must. Especially in romance.
There are some rules that can be broken. Or rather, revised. When I was in school, shorts were not allowed. Now even teachers wear shorts on 90+ degree days. But there is still a dress code. Shorts that are way too short are still not allowed. Students are given loaners to wear for the day.
One of the “rules” that seems to be falling by the wayside in the publishing world is the “don’t write athlete heroes” in romance. Sorry, gonna have to break that one. I love sports. Always have. And yes, I like athletes. In high school I kept clippings of both pro and local games. I put pictures of game winning touchdowns in my locker. Not because I had a crush on the player, but because it was a great shot. I have favorite professional athletes I enjoy watching. I follow a lot of players’ wives on Twitter. I admire their husbands’ athleticism, skill, and yeah, hunky physiques.
My book heroes tend to be athletes. Right now I’m working on a series featuring baseball players. I know a lot about the game. More than I do about say, firefighting or ranching or pirating the high seas. Plus I can combine my favorite things about several ballplayers and morph them into one ideal character. Add in a few traits of my husband’s, and I’ve got the perfect (fictional) man. He’s tall, strong, honorable, 100% faithful and he’s not afraid to do the dishes.