I have seen the mad traffic junctions in Hanoi, Vietnam and I have witnessed the crazy intersections in India, but neither thing can compare to the lunatic asylum that is the gaggle of mothers who hit the roads at 8:30 am every day of the school week. Red-faced, pajama-clad woman with tangled, matted hair and a backseat full of petulant children battle each other to be first to the gates. They are viscous and merciless, ignoring road rules and *lollipop ladies alike in their plight to deliver their offspring to school by the designated time. This is bad enough, but it’s only the beginning of the fun. Between the kids on bikes and skateboards weaving in and out of traffic, the cars parked on either side of what is a very narrow road and stupid, stupid drivers who should never be trusted behind the wheel of any vehicle, the trip to school each morning presents more obstacles to the driver than an episode of WIPEOUT, and that’s on a good day. Add a spot of rain to the mix and the chaos goes all the way up to eleven. (That one’s just for the Spinal Tap fans. I know you’re out there.)
This morning I had the questionable pleasure of watching a clumsy youngster tumble over the handlebars of his bike and land directly on the road in front of me. Lucky for him, my brakes are pretty decent. Even luckier for him (considering the time of the morning and my absolute lack of caffeine) my reflexes were pretty decent too. In case you’re of a sensitive and tender disposition, let me assure you that the kid wasn’t injured. That being said though, I’m pretty sure the collection of giggling girls surrounding him did very little for his bruised ego.
Tomorrow is my son’s last official day of high school. It will herald my final run through the gauntlet of mad mothers in the morning. It brings to conclusion thirteen years of deranged dads in the afternoon. Oh, the driving I have seen during those years, and the foul language I have hurled in earnest. I have cursed the pulling out without looking and bemoaned the stopping dead without warning. I have enraged the dour lollipop people with my too loud music, and irritated the old people pottering in the garden next door to the school with my general irreverence. I’m sure they won’t miss me at all, but I will miss them. There’s a real sense of achievement to be had in the successful navigation of the daily school run, and I am just a little bit sad that after tomorrow, it will be no more.
In truth, I’m probably more sad that this part of our lives will be over. No more school runs means no more school .. and that means no more little boy. He’s a young man now, and even though I could not be prouder of the young man he is , I can’t help but miss the little boy he was, and I can’t help but question my changing role in his life. Before I get too serious and sad though, I can take comfort in the knowledge that he has inherited my irreverence (and probably my loathing for the lollipop guild), and he promises me that no matter how grown up he gets, he’ll always be my little boy.
I’m gunna hold you to that, kid.
* I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not like those people. They are like sinister clowns with the power to control traffic and I don’t trust them.