The world is a grace-less place. I know that to be true, but I don’t like it much. Perhaps that is what makes comprehending and trusting the love of God so difficult for me. And why I sometimes question my sanity for doing so. Unfortunately (and somewhat ironically), one of the most grace-less places I have encountered is the traffic circle at my kid’s school.
As a new, doe-eyed kinder parent the traffic circle at my child’s elementary school was alarming to say the least. Through the years I have discovered that, as baffled as I was on our first day, our pick up and drop off system is quite a bit better than most other schools.
It did not take me long to figure out that people got pretty worked up in that traffic circle. As if trying to move almost 400 students and their mode of transportation through the one entrance of the school in less than 30 minutes was not a hard enough task, try throwing some parental attitude to the mix.
Sure, there is the cutting off of one another while in the cars, but then there are also the snarky judgments we all make and share about all those people who don’t seem to know how to park right. Seems to me the vast majority of adults have trouble waiting their turn in a line no matter if that line is at the grocery store, Disneyland, or yes, even their child’s school traffic circle.
One day, when my third and unexpected child was a newborn, I turned right at a light just before the school. I had checked to see if there was any oncoming traffic and it is true that I might have missed something due to the business of the intersection or the bleariness of my sleep deprived brain. Either way, before I knew it, there was a white minivan hot on my heels blasting her horn at me.
I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry I remember thinking. I just had a baby and I’m so groggy and I just didn’t see you there. Of course she turned into the school parking lot right after me and proceeded to shoot dirty looks at me through the cars. Wow. Really? This is not the mall at Christmas, this is your kid’s school I wanted to shout. But because it was my kid’s school too I kept my mouth shut and tried to let it go. I might still be slightly bitter.
And then my oldest got to middle school. If I thought elementary school drop off was bad….wow. What’s funny is that even though the drop off is way more chaotic with kids being let off every which way and crossing outside the cross walks right in front of cars and parents making u turns all over the place, I find the drivers to be more patient and understanding of one another. Go figure. Everyone seems to have decided to embrace the bedlam instead of fight about it.
I even accidentally ran a red light the other day. It is the last light I go through to get to the middle school and ever since the time change I get a glare from the sun on my windshield when I get to the light which makes seeing awfully difficult. Between the glare and my morning peace keeping duties and having my three year old want to pass things back and forth to me, I missed the fact that although the car in front of me might have made it through while the light was still green, I should have stayed back and waited until the next go around.
I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry I thought, grateful there was no horn blasting behind me. I figured the woman driving the grey minivan was shooting me dirty looks so I avoided her eyes in my rear view mirror. After dropping off my son, I waited my turn to pull back out into the flow of cars, acutely aware that the woman behind me was the same person who saw I ran the red.
My jaw dropped. She let me in. She didn’t even do it in the snotty-just-barely-let-you-in kind of way. I risked looking in my rear view mirror. She wasn’t shooting me dirty looks after all.
And that is when I realized I live my life expecting un-grace. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, either. This world is an ungracious place. This woman and her ability to let my bad-driving roll off her back impressed me. If grace exists in the traffic circle of all places, maybe I’m not crazy for believing that God loves me. Thank you, Middle School Mom.