Well-Meaning Parents Go Too Far


Remember the good old days when children entered their schools without the involvement of dozens of official and ad hoc committee meetings, police cars ominously lurking, mass emailings to the entire student body’s parents, traffic cones, instruction sheets, concrete barriers, and email flame wars?  Me too.  That long ago time has come to be nostalgically thought of by me as, “last week.”

My daughter’s school, which is an excellent one by the way, has just implemented a new system for parents who drive their children to school in the morning.  The new system is called “kiss and drop” and involves a single lane of cars crawling through one of the school parking lots between pylons.  At the appropriate spot, you are supposed to plant one on your progeny, eject them from the vehicle, and get the hell out of there before any of the other parents behind you go nuts.

This replaces the old system of “no system.”  The problem with that state of affairs was that there were certain circumstances where a child might have to walk in front of a car.  Now God forbid that any child should ever be hurt in any situation, but for cryin’ out loud, it’s not like they’re crossing the highway – it’s a PARKING LOT!  FILLED WITH PARENTS!  AND TEACHERS!  THE TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE MOST INTERESTED IN CHILD WELFARE!  It was probably the safest environment my daughter was in all day.

It’s another case (like this one) of exacting a burden from a large group of people in the attempt to prevent some highly unlikely bad thing from happening.  An injured child is absolutely an awful thing, but a .000001% chance of that happening is not much of a cost to society.  Inconveniencing hundreds of people every day IS a real cost that adds up pretty quickly.



Where’s My Daughter’s O Canada?

My daughter goes to a great school.  One of the things that makes it great is the respect that permeates its halls: respect for teachers, respect for students, respect for neighbours and the community in general, respect for past and present members of our armed forces, respect for police officers and firefighters, and respect for our nation.  The latter is demonstrated each day by the playing of O Canada  every morning over the school’s PA system, and the fact that EVERYONE, whether they are in a classroom or an office or a hallway; whether they are a student, teacher or parent; stops and stands still during the duration of the song.

Except my daughter’s grade 2 class.

You see, due to expanding student enrollment, the school had to add what we used to call a “portable” classroom — although this one looks pretty permanent.  And that’s my daughter’s classroom.  This addition was one of a series of construction projects that happened over the summer and are still happening.  And to quote Rodney Dangerfield, it seems that this classroom, “can’t get no respect.”  So they don’t yet (a month into the school year) have proper furniture, for example.  Or a connection to the school PA system to hear important announcements or the national anthem.  And, ironically, the room that would have been theirs, but was scheduled to be converted into administrative offices, still sits empty and untouched.

I fully understand that when there are multiple projects being worked on by a finite set of tradespeople, not everything can happen at once.  But wouldn’t you think that the students  would come first?  I have a theory for why this particular class is being de-prioritized:  it has consistently the strongest support network of parent volunteers of any class in the school.  It was true when most of the same kids were together two years ago in kindergarten, and it was true last year in grade one.  I think that the school administration is (likely subconsciously) figuring that that particular class can withstand hardship better than other groups in the school, so they get bumped down the to-do list.

That kind of makes sense on the surface, and is a prevalent theme throughout society – the silent get little attention, while the “squeaky wheels” get greased.  But it’s BAD MARKETING.  You should treat your BEST customers (or parents or students) best.  Then they become even more rabid fans and spread the joy and the message and infect even more people with zeal and excitement.

Think about it – if only complainers and whiners get what they want, soon everyone will learn to complain and whine.  But if the promoters and the cheerers and the helpers and the fans get all the best, soon (almost) all the people will be on the bandwagon.