Recently, during some time off, I had the life-changing experience of picking my daughter up at school for a whole week.
Let me describe what the scene is like as all the parents, grandparents and babysitters stand outside the walls of the school waiting for their children to emerge. I don’t get to do this very often, so I’m kind of an outsider to the group. From what I can tell, for the most part, it’s primarily a bunch of moms that gather together talking about whatever it is a bunch of women talk about. (It could be nuclear launch codes for all I know.) There are a few other guys there too, but the majority of us usually have a staring contest with our own shoes.
As the school bell pierces the stillness of the afternoon air, the kids are let out of the building in shifts. The crossing guards usually emerge first followed in succession by the different classes with their teachers leading them. I believe that this system was instituted so that some poor substitute teacher doesn’t get trampled in the tsunami of little kids as they make their mass exodus down the hallway.
I always stand toward the front of the school at a place that I can look down the building at one of the side doors where my daughter usually exits. From this vantage point, I get a pretty good view as the heavy glass and iron-clad doors are flung open.
Each day, I would see the same group of third- and fourth-grade boys come tearing out of the structure like it was on fire. As soon as the doorway was cleared, they would make a 90-degree, right-hand turn, charging up the sidewalk with their backpacks bouncing and shoelaces haphazardly flailing in the breeze. It was quite a sight.
The lead boy, with the biggest, cheesiest smile on his face, was gleefully yelling something that I could not quite make out. His friends that were following him seemed to be hollering the same thing.
As the thundering herd got closer, I could finally understand the leader’s high-pitched wails. He and his cohorts were all crying out the word “Freedom!!!!,” as they loped along the side of the brick building.
All they needed was some blue and white face paint and some tartan kilts and they could have been from the cast of “Braveheart” racing across the green fields at Bannockburn. I think that Mel Gibson had ridden a horse in front of them inside that school and got them all fired up before their tennis-shoed feet hit the concrete. It was really quite inspiring.
There is nothing quite like the unbridled enthusiasm of little kids leaving school at the end of the day. They didn’t care what they were doing or where they were going. They were just cherishing their freedom.
I think us parents, especially the shoe-starers, could probably have learned something from watching those young warrior poets. Life, liberty and freedom should be truly cherished and enjoyed. Unless of course there’s something good on television or you have a Facebook account that is in desperate need of a status update.
I know that I learned my lesson in that one short week. So now at the end of each and every workday, don’t be surprised if you see me sprinting across the employee parking lot to my vehicle, in full face paint and one of my wife’s plaid skirts crying out, “You may be able to make me take part in the Affordable Healthcare Act ... but you can never take my freedom!!!”
At least until the next day.
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.