Sometimes I have to remind myself — ‘Oh! We live in TEXAS! ‘ Austin is such a progressive, lush and laid back city I sometimes forget what state we now reside in. I’m not saying we’re not Texas proud — that part’s kind of contagious, actually. The ‘live and let live’ attitude and sauvignon blanc in everyone’s hands at lunch on a Tuesday is so European, Matt’s been going around saying Austin is ‘Redneck Europe’. Except it’s not redneck at all — quite refined, actually, as you’re about to hear. So this week’s article is more of a story than anything, and it isn’t Christmas-y at all, but I had to share it with you guys because I hope it’ll make you laugh.
Every day after I pick up Scarlet and Sterling from elementary school, we hop in the car and head over to get Shep from preschool. My big kids fight the whole way most days.
“I get to get out first!”
“I get to see Shepherd first!”
“Well, you said I was a poopie-head, so that means you don’t get your turn”.
That’s the gist of the daily dialogue between them. If you’ve ever had or have been a five-year-old, you understand.
So we pull up to pre-school and the dad I don’t know but find kind of annoying because he leaves his GIANT diesel truck running whether it’s cold, hot or otherwise is letting his boys take off the padlock on the gate in the parking lot that is supposed to remain locked at all times. No one uses this gate for drop off or pick up. Cause it’s LOCKED. And duh, toddlers + parking lots = not a good idea.
Scarlet and my mouths gape open. This isn’t safe. And it’s so annoying. It’s a schlep from the parking lot to the class and if I could just hoist the kids over the fence and then pole vault myself over or whatever, it would probably save me 15 minutes of their incessant “I get to go firsts!” for literally every turn of the retrieve-Shepherd-never-ending-story.
My fighting duo and I aren’t rule breakers so we go through the front door like we’re supposed to, finally make it to Shepherd’s classroom and we see the gate to the parking lot is open, even after The Austin Cowboy and his boys have entered. They didn’t lock it behind them. It leads directly to the parking lot, is steps away from the toddler classrooms, and is ajar.
Scarlet is as righteous as I am, but I’ve had time on my side to let my feisty-ness soften a little. She was outraged by the safety breach.
So. We picked up Shepherd, took the chain and lock that was supposed to be keeping the gate secure but had been left mindlessly dangling over the gate, and took it to the office and explained to them what had happened. The lady in the office had a sick child with her and the phone rang and she wasn’t able to talk about it.
I grabbed a post it note, quietly let the receptionist know what happened, and then wrote the following:
For the safety of the children, please leave the lock on the gate in the parking lot and use the front door. Signed: — A parent.
And I stuck it to the cowboy’s truck window. And obviously got the fudge out of dodge, with Scarlet, still pissed in the backseat. My kids were no longer fighting but had four million questions about the note I wrote, what was going to happen next, etc., etc.
The next day, we walked through the office to pick up Shepherd, were assured by the ladies in the office the lock would remain in place, and went to retrieve Sheppie. We get back outside and wouldn’t you know it, the giant white truck was parked right next to my giant white, um, truck-like-vehicle, and The Austin Cowboys’ boys were climbing all over the outside of it (his, not mine).
I hustled my kids into our car. But the truck next to us rolled it’s window down.
Oh no. I didn’t think he’d actually confront me.
“Excuse me,” he said. Did you leave a note on my car yesterday?”
All in one split second:
Me to me: You live in non-judgement, choose a peaceful response, let sleeping Buddha’s sleep, blah blah blah…
Also me: Judge Judy Pennsyltucky edition, in the house.
“Yes, sir, I did”. The sir part came off nice, but in my head was more like a “damn straight I did”. Exactly like the time some jerk on Mother’s Day told me I looked big when I was nine months pregnant. I called him sir, too, right before I told him he was big as well. Oh yes, I did.
Ugh. Anyway. Here we go.
He said, “I just wanted you to know a teacher told me I could just open the gate and come in that way. I didn’t mean to break the rules and I agree, it’s not safe and I won’t do it again”.
I blubbered a bit as Scarlet yelled from the backseat “Mommy, what’s he sayinggggg!”
And me all, “I didn’t know if I should leave a note or not, but it seemed like a safety concern to me”.
And he said “It’s been noted” and then politely waited to get out until I got everyone buckled in my car.
You find so many transplants from all over in Austin, from LA, SF, Chicago, all over really. But the more people we meet the more Matt and I are feeling like people move here for similar reasons. Access to this great city, culture and food, but with wide open spaces, community and, well, other good people. Thanks for proving my inner critic wrong, Austin Cowboy. Thanks for proving me wrong.