By now, school has begun for all the kiddos around the country. Thanks to the lunatic occurrences and school shootings that have tragically taken place, the lock down procedures implemented at most schools have reached epic proportion. It’s sad, really. While children’s safety at school is absolutely, positively numero uno, it is too bad that things have to be unpleasantly extreme.
My son’s high school is laid out like an asterisk with a center section and many hallways that branch straight out, each ending with a door to the outside. When he first started there two years ago, the kids could change classes by walking the halls or they could exit the end doors, move to the next and reenter. This was a superb system as the flow of traffic had many options to keep it moving at a clipped pace—necessary when 2,000+ students have a distance to go and short time to do it in. It was also extra nice for parents to be able to deliver needed or forgotten items with minimal hassle. For instance, if you knew that your kid would be walking out of the 400 hallway door at 9:30, you could show up and park right outside along the sidewalk and as the kids were changing classes, hand off the goods to your child.
After the Sandy Hook tragedy, that came to a screeching halt and now all doors are locked when school begins. Kids can exit but cannot reenter other than through the main school entrance. Now, it’s a challenge to get to each class on time as the packed in masses result in severe “log jams,” and stress escalates as kids try to hurry and beat the dreaded bell. No more enjoying the sunshine and getting a breath of fresh air. No more easy drop-offs of needed items.
For the next couple years, when needing to go to the school, a parent had to enter, sign in and head to perform volunteer duties or drop off a forgotten lunch or homework assignment in your kid’s locker. As you were there for a legitimate purpose and were not a disruption, you could go in, take care of business and scoot back out. Now? No way. Now, you have to first be admitted to the building by pressing a buzzer outside. And then you better have a government ID, a spotless past, an approved reason to be there, a lack of tattoos, presentable hair, and a willingness to be strip-searched to enter the school. It’s more like prison. Only you’re trying to get IN versus OUT.
So what happens the first week of school this year? My son forgot his lunch. While not the end of the world because there is a buy-your-lunch option (which sucks thanks to our first lady who has decided she knows better than all other parents what kids should and should not eat), but we all recall what a zoo the lunchroom can be. 1,000 kids trying to scarf down a meal in 45 minutes. Often, Chase has told me that the lunch lines are so long that kids spend interminable time waiting in them and then have to gobble down their meals like they’re in an eating contest.
So I wanted to get him his lunch using my old drop-off-in-his-locker method. But to do so now would require extreme planning and foresight. I began sweating bullets immediately, trying to get a game plan together for how to accomplish the mission. I texted trusted friends inquiring about reasons that would pass muster with the drill sergeants at the front office. I thought about what I could hide the lunch in so my true reasons weren’t discovered. How should I look when asking to be buzzed in the front door--smile? be serious? wave? perform a can-can?
As I pulled up to the school, I sent one final text to my friends who knew what I was attempting: “I’m going in. Wish me luck.”
I buzzed the front door and decided last minute to skip the can-can. Instead, I was unassuming and casual. After 30 seconds of visual interrogation, I received the buzz to enter. First obstacle cleared. I entered the main office and was shown the computer check in that is used now—you enter your license info and they check to be sure you aren’t guilty of more than parking tickets and poor dancing skills, I’m guessing. I passed—nice. I was asked where I was going in the school and the information I decided would work best slid off my tongue in a convincing tone. No one blinked. With a printed badge featuring my driver’s license likeness, I was waved in.
I walked to the locker, dropped off the goods, and returned to the front office feeling like a million bucks.
As I was signing back out on the computer, a student I know walked up and I watched as a lady handed him a telltale brown paper bag. “Here’s your lunch,” she quipped. At my look of confusion, he said sheepishly: “I forgot it so my dad brought it up for me” and walked back toward his next class.
Stunned, I looked at the lady standing there, mouth agape. “Parents can just drop off forgotten lunches with you for kids to come get?”
“Yup,” she said. “We deliver forgotten lunches to kids all the time.”
Moral: don’t overthink a situation that may have a simple solution.