You know when you watch a flock of birds at dusk, the way they get wheeling and diving and yet never seem to run into each other? What a marvel of grace and perfect syncrony it looks like from the outside.
It seems obvious that there are nuances that the birds are aware of that the rest of us aren’t. That there is probably a moment where one bird senses the wing-draft of a nearby bird and corrects, trusting that the next bird over will do the same, until that micro-correction has rippled its way throughout the flock. The same way that when you hit the brakes for a child who ran out into traffic, you just have to trust that the cars behind you will catch your change and, likewise, correct.
I’m thinking of flocks of birds today because I had that kind of morning: a coffee and knitting visit with some other neighbourhood moms that went just a few minutes too long, and another mom with visitors in town who needed an emergency lunch-time kid pick-up, the car we were in belonging to the parent who needed to pick up more kids than she had carseats for, and being two minutes late. There were ten chaotic minutes of swooping and diving – trying to call the school, fielding another call, children taking off in the wrong direction, trying to let parents know which child was where.
But this happens quite often, and in spite of the chaos it always seems to work out. Each child gets to where they need to go, the cars get dropped off where they need to be. If a child goes astray, they are known by all the other moms and someone makes sure they stay put or get walked home. We still finish with smiles and laughs – actually more so than on days when it all goes seamlessly. And at the end of today’s flocking, as we passed on the street saying, “you got your kid? Good. I was just trying to find you to let you know that kid is home with her mom and your car’s parked around the corner. Have a nice afternoon,” slipping her child a gluten-free vegan chickpea blondie, saying, “I won’t be offended if you don’t like it”, and getting a big, sweet smile from her as she bit into it and declared, “This is nice.”
I’ve had kids in the school system for nine years now. But I was always removed from the school by my work and daycares, which necessitates a regimented routine with no room for anything to go wrong – with daycare workers counting heads at each transition, children punished for wandering off and a misplaced kid being a calamity with kids punished swiftly lest the parents think to punish the daycare and your work counting the minutes you were gone dealing with calamities.
So it’s really cool to find that after a year of just doing drop-offs and pick-ups, there’s now this amazingly cool group of kids that I can count on to cheer Hannah up on a bad day, to give me hugs and cheer me up on a bad day, to wave to me across the playground, give me high-fives in the hallway, come to me if they’re hurt or need help getting home, and appreciate my baking. And there’s this amazingly cool group of parents that I can count on to jolly Hannah out of a bad mood when I’m too close to the situation, to give me hugs on a bad day, wave to me across the playground, give my kids high-fives in the hallway, help my children if they’re hurt or lost, and appreciate my baking.
Being part of a community is awesome.