|Whirlpool/Spiral Galaxy |
I set up routes based on school let out times, locations, traffic. After driving for a while, I knew which schools let out late, how long it took students to get to the van, and which schools had the worst pick-up routines (parents, you KNOW what I'm talking about).
But I didn't realize that I needed to take into account one Miss Samantha Stark (name changed, of course).
Samantha did not comply with my route schedule. She got out of school every day at the same time the other children did, but it took her a full ten minutes longer to get to the van.
I had a talk with her. I had a talk with her parents. I parked the van and walked to her classroom, dragging the kindergarteners with me. I carried her backpack. I pleaded, I cajoled, I offered bribes. But no matter what I did, Samantha took ten minutes longer to get to the van.
She was in 6th grade, and her classroom was in the back of the school--a good three minute walk--if you're moving slow. But this child did not just move slow. She ambled. And while she ambled, she twirled and laughed to herself. She swung her backpack all around in circles and kicked rocks and leaves on the way. She stopped to stare at patterns in the brick walls.
Samantha was utterly lost in her private enjoyment of the walk from classroom to van, totally unaware and uncaring of my route schedule, the work I had piling up back at the office, or the kindergarteners waiting for a snack. It wasn't an unkindness, she just was Samantha, with her feet planted firmly in who she was. And who she was was a person who didn't rush things.
Samantha would come around the corner of the building and look up at me waiting impatiently at the van, and she would smile and wave. Then she'd twirl a few more times on the way, stopping to pick up something interesting. She had large, ginormous eyes, and as she came to the van she would smile cheerfully and say, "hi!" Then she'd plop down in a seat like we hadn't all been sitting there for 15 minutes waiting.
It took me longer than it should, but I rewrote my route schedules. I brought snack on the van for the wee ones, and we ate it during the ten extra minutes it took Miss Samantha Stark to amble on to the van. Instead of folding my arms and tapping my foot as I waited for this recalcitrant child to arrive, I rested a bit and waited to see her twirl her way onto the van.
I have never forgotten the power that child had to stop the universe in its tracks.