Positive Focus

During this freezing cold spell, carpool on the East Campus has been even more of an adventure than normal.  Let me thank you first and foremost for your patience, endurance, and driving skill!  But to be honest with you, I love doing carpool…in any weather!  Carpool allows me to start my mornings off with a smile.  While I know parents on that campus must feel like they are caught in an endless Macy’s Day Parade, with people waving at you constantly, please know it is a chance for us to greet each of you and to start the day in what I hope, is a very positive and warm way. The same happens on the West Campus as well, but just in a manner that speaks to the students at that age. I also realize that sometimes the weather and traffic conditions, work demands, and those occasional difficult conversations with your child, can make for a challenging morning drive.

But our focus should always be on the positive.  After having the privilege of directing traffic for several years, I have come to fully appreciate how our cars are a reflection of our lives and say so much “non-verbally” about our busy lives.  The images we all get to witness really do represent all of us.  So much of what happens in life seems to center around our vehicles. They are “key members” of our family, as they shelter us, move us, and at times, “announce” us to the world.  We see cars of every model and color.  There are the occasional new cars and cars that have been trusty family members for some time.  It is fun to see the vanity license plates some of us have, and how they communicate who we are or our hopes and dreams.

Recently, it became very evident who gets to park in a garage at home and who does not.  As cars come in, I watch plenty of children finishing their breakfast in the front passenger seat or in the back.  It brings back memories of my own kids at times.  I have also learned which parents love a good cup of coffee while they drive.  And even what parents have dogs that they love to travel with, whether in laps or right by the window, looking out and ready to greet everyone on their journey around the parking lot.  I have been able to watch youngsters finishing up their studies, students catching those precise few minutes of sleep leaning against their passenger window, and occasionally a Middle School girl getting her eye makeup just right before having to get out of the car.  I have also learned that there are numerous wave styles…from parents and students.  Some have the typical wave with their hands, some just smile and nod, and occasionally some folks will roll down their windows and share a word of greeting as they go through.

The carpool times that I enjoy the most, however, are when I watch transitions occur.  There are families I have been able to watch over the years with a child in the back seat for years, and then they reach the age to move into the passenger seat upfront with their parents.  Then they head off to the Upper School and suddenly one day, in carpool on the West Campus, the student is in the driver’s seat with their parent in the passenger seat.  They pull up in the circle and make the quick switch.  And before I know it, I see them driving their younger siblings to the school on the East Campus.  The cycle has gone full circle.

Our cars allow us to live active lives.  If you were to look in the back of my car, you will find coats of various levels of warmth, raincoats, umbrellas, gloves, boots, snow pants, hats, and just about everything imaginable for the weather we may experience at carpool time.  Rather than putting it all in the closet at home, it seems best to have it where I can quickly get to it when I am on my way from our house to carpool.  I can quickly pop the back open and based on the weather, take out the equipment needed to start “our” day.  Some days it is like putting an armor.  And with the rains this week it is a very wet armor.

I am sure many of you understand what I am sharing.  This is a rhythm and routine to those rituals.  The rhythm of life is very important for all of us.  It helps center our days and it helps us know that things are moving forward.  When I realize that I can go from just wearing short sleeves, to suddenly needing to make sure I have a sweater or a jacket, and then the gloves and the heavy coat, I “experience” the passage of the year.

Please just consider the fact that they really are our “home on wheels.” They keep us safe, warm, protected, and most importantly…together.

So please keep waving.  Know that I will be waving and saying good morning to every car as you come in.  Together, I hope, we can all start our days, enjoying the fact that we are sharing a part of our lives, even in these very short precious moments.  That’s part of being a school family and one of the ways we can interact with each other on a very personal and human way.

Let’s hope that the weather gets into a more “positive” rhythm soon.  It was shocking to me the other day, when Tom Herman, our Athletic Director, made the comment at a Leadership meeting that we were close to the end of the season for the winter sports.  In fact, he said that in three weeks spring sports will begin practice!  It is pretty amazing to realize that we are about to turn that corner already, but winter sure wants to make a statement this year!

Hold on to your hats, stay warm and dry, and drive carefully!  I look forward to seeing you in the days ahead.

Best wishes to you!