Dear Crossing Guard, I mean, Dear Parent


I got yelled at by the Crossing Guard this morning. It was bound to happen, really, law of averages and all. I have tried to make sure it never happened, but, alas, c’est la vie. Don’t get me wrong, that’s life, but I was upset. I rolled my window down and gently told him I was trying to pay attention to him. I also asked him to please stop yelling, and then I kept on moving. Really, though, what was I supposed to do? Get out of my car and yell at him? That would obviously cause a traffic jam and a youtube appearance. No one wants that.   Least of all me. I also couldn’t get out and give him a hug (though this probably wasn’t at the top of my possible response scenarios). Most likely, that gesture would have been misinterpreted and possibly landed one of us in jail. So, I drove on. I went home, told my husband, changed the baby’s diaper, texted a friend and then, proceeded to spontaneously combust into tears. It was an emotionally packed situation and tears seemed the appropriate response after the fact.  But I wanted to respond, I just didn’t know how. I really wanted him to see it from my perspective. I equally wanted to put myself in his shoes. So if I could do just that, it would go something like this.

Dear Parent,

Hey there. I just wanted to acknowledge that I yelled at you this morning. I know most likely that my yelling made you cry, angry, upset, or all of the above. Please know that it is not personal. It may have seemed like I was singling you out by the tone in my voice, but I wasn’t. I’m sure you know that being a crossing guard is not the easiest. Much like your parenting job, it can be a thankless position. In our jobs, we’re just doing the best we can to make sure no one gets hurt, right? Though I would rather not resort to yelling, you know as well as I do, that sometimes yelling is the only way to grab someone’s attention especially in potentially dangerous situations.
You may not know this, but I’m up at the crack of dawn so I can show up as the volunteer crossing guard. I have lunches to pack and kids to get ready. And of course, there’s the weather to account for. It’s been a cold winter, hasn’t it? I have to make sure I’m prepared for any kind of weather. It can get really, really cold standing out there waving people on and ensuring kids are making it safely across and into the doors of our great learning institution. You wouldn’t think it a big deal, but it’s a bit of a burden. The safety of children is no easy thing. They are so much harder to see, easier to hurt, and they are usually quite a bit more distracted than adults. I don’t say this to make you feel bad. I know that you probably understand the issue at hand. I’ve seen you look me in the eye before, silently acknowledging the work I’m doing. The nod that lets me know, you get it. You know why I’m out there, and you fully respect me for it.
I’m not sure what happened this morning. Maybe, you were a little off. Maybe, I was. Maybe it was the rainy weather and added traffic. I know it was a misunderstanding now. At the time, my biggest concern was stopping you while I let people across. I had to get your attention. I know you were trying. So was I.
The truth is sometimes it’s hard to focus when you are watching that child that was once a baby running toward the door. Running toward bigger and better things, you hope. You probably have a lot on your mind like most people these days. So the hand signals this morning may have thrown you off. You probably thought go, when I really wanted you to stop. It’s ok. There’s aways next time. Keep your head up. Misunderstandings can be overcome. Keep focusing on what’s important. I’ll be sure to do the same.

Your Volunteer Crossing Guard

He may not feel this way at all, and that’s ok. What I really hope is that our Volunteer Crossing Guard knows that I respect him for the work he does. I really am trying to follow his lead and pay attention when I’m driving around the school. If you know me, this can be quite the task, what with all those cute shoes running around and all. But just like him, I’m interested in the safety of our children. So despite the yelling and my tears, I hope he continues to stay on task. Of course I hope we never have another misunderstanding for both our sakes. If so, I may have to start singing to him. I wonder if he’s seen Frozen yet. Ultimately, I hope he has a wonderful day, as I hope the same for myself.

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