It's not like I ever said, "When I grow up, I want to be a crossing guard". In fact, I don't think I'd ever even seen one in the flesh until we moved here. But, through a series of occupational events, I am indeed a crossing guard.
And I admit that I like and appreciate this little moonlighting job. The crosswalk is less than 100 yards from my back gate. I get to be outside and help the neighborhood kids get safely to and from school across an otherwise dangerous road for pedestrians.
My salary won't get me to Europe anytime soon, but it does happily support our kids' extracurriculars as well as my own artsy, running, and bicycling habits. It requires no preparation outside of normal working hours, and I can easily work my tutoring students around it.
One afternoon last week, I was just about to wrap things up after my usual throng of school commuters had contentedly headed home. Something made me stay a few more minutes. Just a feeling that I should hang around in case of... I don't know. But I stayed.
A little girl walking by herself approached. She'd walked past me a few minutes earlier, but didn't cross the street. She was unfamiliar to me and I sensed that she might be a new kid at school. I thought I would introduce myself.
"Hi, I'm Mrs. AbbyNormal, do you need to cross the street?", I asked.
Up until then, she'd appeared pretty sure of herself, but once I spoke to her, her little chin and lower lip started to quiver.
"I can't *sniff* find my *sniff* house", she said. Tears forming now.
Oh, I felt so sad for her, she was just a third grader. This wasn't necessarily a first time for this. I've had kids from the school wander down to my crosswalk when whatever parent/guardian/sibling fails to be where they're supposed to be after school. Why these kids decide to hoof it down to the crosswalk across the busiest road in the neighborhood, I do not know. We get those situations cleared up easily enough.
This was the first time, however, that I've dealt with a new kid in this situation. She had wandered lost through the neighborhood for a while, then thankfully came back to me. She and I walked back to the school. Turns out she had gone south when she was supposed to go north. Mom would be waiting for her at the north crosswalk.
As we walked, I called the office and they told me that Mom and some of the school staff were there looking for her daughter. The little girl, Maddy, and I made some light conversation. I commended her for coming to me and for having memorized both her parents' phone numbers (even though neither of them answered!).
I asked where she'd moved from. Do they have snow there? Does she have brothers or sisters? Who is her new teacher? She seemed to relax a bit, but once we reached the school and Mom came out the front door, it was an understandably tearful reunion.
"Okay, we're going to practice walking some more!", Mom assured her.
So this week's silver lining post is for my new friend, Maddy.