Remember back in the day when the “big” kids in school were considered responsible enough to help their peers cross the street?
I saw this picture this morning and memories came FLOODING back!!
My sister was one of these select few – she was an elementary school safety.
I remember she used to carry her cornet and safety sash on our walk from home to school. Back then, we were able to walk all by ourselves the quarter mile back and forth– something that wouldn’t fly today. We didn’t have cell phones, ipods, ipads, or other electronics. On the way to and from school we used to talk or look around or just think quietly to ourselves.
We were in elementary school. Sixth graders got to be safeties.
Could you imagine elementary school kids, first through sixth grade, walking home by themselves with no other supervision besides the chosen few elected mature enough to don the neon safety sash?
Still, I don’t remember anything eventful ever happening on our walks home. There were several kids that would all walk the same way, but no one was bullied, jumped, picked, or robbed – at least not anyone I knew of. Would this still fly today?
The school safeties would be stationed on corners and would watch out for traffic. Once every other student had successfully crossed the street, the safety would then cross and finish their own walk home. Their bright neon yellow/green sashes would reflect headlights in early morning darkness and provide a blinding glair during sunny spring days.
Alas, the honor of being chosen a safety was never to be mine. Not because I wasn’t mature enough. Not because I couldn’t handle the responsibilities. Not being a safety had nothing to do with me. It was simply because of rezoning and regrading of schools.
You see, up until my sister’s year as a safety, all elementary schools in our district were K-6 schools. Then 7th and 8th grade would be at a single junior high to be followed by high school. My class was to have the distinct honor of being the first group of 6th graders to join the 7th and 8th graders at the junior high – changing it forever to more of a middle school.
This drove my sister MAD…
As the little sister, I was nipping at the bit – trying to keep up with my sister who was a whole year older and wiser. She hadn’t had a single moment of peace past that first year she inhabited the earth. Instead, she had me – always around – always watching – always wanted to be a part of whatever, it didn’t matter. So to her, the thought of leaving me in 6th grade in the elementary school while she moved on up to the junior high sounded like a blessing of freedom.
Freedom to be who she wanted without me calling her down from the clouds. Freedom to only worry about herself – instead of having to “watch out for” her ‘lil sis. Freedom to forge a new identity as a more mature adolescent without my naivety crowding her style.
Instead she got a little shafted. She didn’t feel her freedom for another few years when she went on to high school and I went on to 8th grade.
To be fair, I got shafted too!
Robbed of being the big kids for once. Robbed of ever being able to wear the school safety sash with pride! Robbed of all the normal 6th grade rites of passage.
I never ASKED to be moved up to the junior high earlier than ever before. I never WANTED to give up being the oldest kids in school just to be guinea pigs. I never THOUGHT I would be forced into a few more years in the purgatory of “younger than”. There’s nothing fun about being the smallest and youngest. Nothing.
Being the youngest grade in a school means the older kids find you annoying. They don’t think you know what you’re doing. They assume you’re immature, inexperienced, and have nothing to offer their established norms. This clear separation was felt by others too, so we little kids stuck together in our own little pods. That’s a sure fire way to make some awesome friends though!!
Any school safeties out there?
Where any of you “robbed” of being the Big kid? The small kid?
Did you like it/hate it? WHY?