A Fresh Start

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Andy Sauer

A new school year is upon us, providing a chance to shed all those bad habits and start the year right.

My fellow parents, I am talking to you.

For those of us who drive our children to any of Suffield’s fine schools, there are procedures for the safe and efficient drop off of students.

Why are there people who don’t follow them?

Consider the situation at the McAllister Intermediate School. The rules are simple: Enter via the Suffield Middle School entrance, drive through the lot and pull as far forward as the dutiful school employee instructs. Last year, there were those who chose to not drive as directed and drop their kids, rain or shine, in front of the door. The practice became exponentially worse as more parents followed suit, and it didn’t take too many to back up the line of vehicles. Why do they do this? They must see the line of people who want to be anywhere but stuck in that lot.

I think some parents, determined to get the best for their children, will do anything to make sure they get it. I recently read in The Boston Globe a story about parents spending as much as $80,000 on consultants and seminars to get an “edge” on getting their kids into an elite college. One parent expressed self-disgust for her participation, but she felt she had to do it for her child to stay competitive.

Aside from the potential psychological damage put on kids for making them think every second of their life is a do-or-die moment, there is a social cost. Engendering a sense of individual elitism and competitiveness at a young age not only stunts an ability to empathize, which is crucial in forging the communal ties necessary for a functioning society, it increases the likelihood the kid’s going to grow up to be a jerk.

Children are more communal than we realize. They coalesce into groups that, while they can’t always be described as friendly, are united in common goals, which generally revolve around fun. Life is simple until adults complicate things with homework, chores and other responsibilities.

Why would we saddle childhood with the additional pressures to get the best and “win” at all costs? For whom are we really doing this? I guess those are questions for a licensed therapist.

In the meantime, how about following the schools’ drop-off rules and not worrying about how far your kids have to walk? They won’t mind the exercise, and the rest of the line can move smoothly so we can finally go to work. 

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