Once upon a time, as the newspaper accounts tell it, there was a whole pile of parents with nothing better to do than sit in the school pick-up line and talk about life and love and what to wear to Wal-Mart. As time went by, they came to school earlier and earlier until they started getting there before their grits were even cold, and since it’s just natural to get hungry doing all that waiting and talking, they began bringing snacks. Everybody knows a sausage dog is no good unless it’s been sizzling on the George Foreman for a little bit between the Pledge of Allegiance and Recess. So these folks lined up in the elementary school pick-up line four hours early, popped open the campers, set up the grill, and tailgated til the cows came home. Or until school let out, whichever came first.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all about tailgating. I’m not above getting out grandmama’s stainless and grocery store china and grilling corn dogs from the back of the Toyota whenever there’s a high school football game worth going out in the cold for. Nothing says “party” like Hi-C punch in a Dixie cup. But there’s a time and place for everything, and it’s just downright tacky to pull out your cocktail weinies while you’re waiting on your first grader to get out of show and tell.
For some reason, the principal of the elementary school felt it wasn’t conducive to good study habits to have the students’ parents giving each other high fives and downing SteakUms in the parking lot all morning. Maybe if the parents had invited the principal to join them, the police wouldn’t have got involved. A little tact and adherence to good manners might possibly have headed off the jail time, or at least cut down on the assault charges. When school let out and the principal headed off to shoo the partiers away, one of the Mamas took it personally. Threats regarding the principal’s future health plans filled the air, phrases full of colorful adjectives and a more than a few unseemly nouns were exchanged, police came to visit, and a whole pile of bright-eyed grade-schoolers just getting out for the day learned some new words. And all the while there was the naughty woman’s husband, rubbing his face and shaking his head, saying, “I TOLD her to get in the camper.”
I’m just glad it wasn’t me. If the police were leading me away from the scene in a set of fancy bracelets, all the members of my family, from Dad to Dachshund, would queue up in a nice receiving line by the squad car to witness the festivities. As I drew near, Son Number One, who at 19 has his priorities firmly in order, would lean out to me and whisper softly in my ear, “Mom if you’re not cooking, we’re going out for pizza. Where do you keep the coupon's for meat lover’s?”