I occasionally have the opportunity to pick up my grandchildren from school because I do some babysitting for them twice a week. This week was not any different but the weather was going to be mild for December, in Minnesota.
I had their baby sister with me today and was careful to bring her coat, hat, and blanket to cover her feet although she had socks on. I didn’t want to hassle putting boots on a nine-month-old. Today I decided to park the car on the side of the school and walk, less than a football field length, to pick up my grandson.
The rules at this school are you need to have a sign bearing the child’s name and teacher and the classroom symbol, in his case, an apple. I have picked up this child on the sidewalk before, where the classmates all stand, awaiting their parents, grandparents, or adult caregiver that picks them up.
I was reading today in bed, as I normally do each morning, but just couldn’t get past the thoughts of what happened at pick up this particular day (yesterday) so I thought I would get it off my mind. Not too many things bother me this much to have this great effect on me, but for some reason this did. It is like when you go through some kind of trauma and at first, you are in shock and speechless. After a day, it hits you and you may cry uncontrollably out of the blue, and then you recall the event.
I am not sure if I am over-reacting to something petty or if in fact, this person wanted to control the situation and take power over the outcome I would have to face. I am being dramatic here. I was well aware of the cute little kindergarteners standing with my grandson so kept my calm, not knowing today, what hoops I would need to go through. This woman was not a familiar face standing with the children. It was not his teacher or one of the subs that had seen me before.
I walked up with my sign in hand, and my sweet granddaughter carefully bundled as we greeted my grandson, her brother. Ready to take him and lead him to the car I was told I could not just walk up and pick up my grandson. “We don’t allow people to walk up and get their students. You will need to get in line.” The woman told me. (I should have gotten her name.)
Perplexed I told her the line (meaning the line of cars on the street waiting to get into the school parking lot) was long and by the time I got up to where I needed to be, the students would be brought into the building. I would be too late and then have to go to the office, show ID, and then be allowed to take my student.
She came back with, “There are two lines. You can get into the Kindergarten line.” I came back with, “But it does not turn into two lines until the parking lot.” (By this time I thought what is the sense of arguing with her. Also, I was not going to make a scene in front of very impressionable youngsters standing by.) I complied.
I forgot to tell her that I had picked up my grandson before on the sidewalk. I understand rules can change from week to week. Maybe it was good I didn’t give her the satisfaction of me being flustered.
Calmly, I walked back to the car with my bundle of joy. I was not going to take a chance of slipping on the spotty places where ice had formed on the parking lot. I was not going to hurriedly place her in her car seat or neglect to buckle her in. We drove around the cul-da-sac so I could turn around and headed toward the direction of the parking lot.
I saw from a distance my grandson still waiting, now the last child to be picked up.
He got into the car lovingly greeting his adorable sister, and the woman said a quick goodbye and closed the door on us. I said no word to her and gave her not even a glance. She had wasted time for all of us and was very inconsiderate in my opinion and judgment that Jesus does not want to see from us.
I am not sure what bothers me more about the situation: the fact that this was all unnecessary and could have been avoided. I could have let my car idle on the road as I inched my way up the line to pick up my grandson. I could have acted perhaps especially sweet (kill them with kindness) or had a better attitude although I did demonstrate self-control (thank you Jesus for that). She could have let me take my grandson. I had all the credentials (sign and baby sister should be proof enough I wasn’t there to kidnap a child or molest them), and give me a warning that next time it won’t be allowed.
I get better treatment from police officers pulling me over for a minor infraction. However once, in this same area, I was pulled over for just two miles over. WHAT???? Who does that???? (But my daughter’s vehicle is pretty fancy so I think I was being targeted.)
I guess, the point I am trying to make is that sometimes things we go through are petty, on our part, but maybe petty, on the part of someone else. So who really is going through the power struggle then? Is it the one who thinks it is petty for how they are being treated? it is the one who is setting the rules we must follow, who are being petty? Maybe we get to decide.
Maybe how we react to a thing, is what gives that thing the power over us in the first place. I don’t know. I just think, if I were in charge, I would have had a little more understanding and compassion for a grandmother holding a small child in her arms and not make a cute 5-year-old have to wait even longer to go home.
I discussed this with my grandson,” I had to follow the rules and leave so I could come back again with the car. Do you think this was a good rule or a dumb rule?”
Even my grandson’s answer proved he is wiser than this woman was.
I didn’t let this small event spoil my day, but for some reason, it came into my head this morning to spoil my reading time. I didn’t like how I was feeling about it and decided to say a short prayer for the woman so I would not carry bitterness toward her. She must have just been doing her job. Still, I was a little disturbed by the encounter. Things never used to be this way in years gone by. There was more love and understanding for each other.
How would Jesus have handled the situation? I think Jesus had his way with a man for the important and big things that were in the way of his mission. I think other things that were petty, he left alone.
“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4: 26,27)