The #4 bus has somewhat of an unpredictable schedule. Sometimes it leaves early, leaving me stranded on the sidewalk. Sometimes it arrives late, leaving me staring at my watch, foot tapping in anxiety. This morning it was the latter. When your commute is as tightly timed as mine, every second counts. Right off the bat, this put me 4 minutes behind schedule.
I arrived at school to find the front gate locked. This wasn’t a surprise, as it’s been locked every day since the January attacks, the only immediately visible way the tragic events have impacted my daily life. It does add a solid 45 seconds to my routine though, as I don’t have a key and must rush around to the preschool to be let in. By then, I was 5 minutes behind schedule.
The wait time to be let in to the school can be anywhere from 10 seconds to a full minute. Sometimes longer. Sometimes I have to ring the bell twice. It especially sucks when it’s cold or raining. Today, I had to wait nearly a minute. And so, I was 6 minutes behind schedule.
To get to the elementary school from the maternelle, I have to cut through one of the three classrooms to reach the back hallway where a staircase mounts to the first floor classrooms. Every morning, I carefully choose which classroom to sneak through so as to cause the least interruption. Sometimes the petite section class is empty, which is a good bet. Or the moyenne section is taking a bathroom break. Today, all classrooms were full and in the middle of lessons. So I chose the grande section; at least they are more or less well-behaved. Plus the teacher usually speaks English to me.
I tried to sneak quietly through the door, but there’s no eluding 30 5-year-olds at 9:07AM. Cries of ‘ALLO ANNE, GOOD MAHNING!. Listen to the song we can sing, said the teacher. We’ve been working on it since you taught it to us on Monday. And the class launched into a round of “I love my red shoes” inspired by the week’s Pete the Cat storytelling. Now, I was 7 and a half minutes late.
It only takes one courageous child to let the entire class know: hugging is a thing we should all do. Right now. All at the same time. I was rooted to the spot, unable to move without tripping over little bodies. Okay, thank you, lâche-moi s’il te plait, je dois monter…. I seemed annoyed, but I was smiling on the inside as I finally made it to the door and slipped into the hallway, nearly dragging two persistent huggers with me. A solid 9 minutes late.
Daily routines aren’t really all that routine after all. There are so many factors that mean the difference between on time and late, easy passage and annoying obstacles. And I could have sped through, told the teacher I was late and didn’t have time to listen to their song. I could have sprinted into the CE1 classroom, 6 minutes late and annoyed that the bus was late and that I had to wait in the cold. But I still would have been late. I would have been late and I would have missed out on seeing their progress, on witnessing my own influence and on experiencing the pure unbridled happiness of children. ❂