Friday, May 06, 2011

Fourteen Turns

Since arriving here and fairly frequently accompanying Adriana on her twice or three times daily trips to the boy's school, I have wanted to try to actually describe that drive and what is it like to get the boys into and out of the school each day.

Joshua and Sammy attend a very nice all-male prep school. It is 2 1/2 miles from their house.  Although Google Maps, which estimates 8 minutes from home to school, appears to show a more direct route, the route Adriana actually takes involves 14 turns, seven left turns and seven right turns. 

Right turns are the more difficult ones here, and it is often that she must make that turn onto quite a busy road without the advantage of stoplights.  All streets are amazingly narrow, at least to these American eyes.  Many residential streets are two Texas sized lanes wide, with cars parked on both sides.  They are also two way streets, so there is a constant dance of weaving in and out of parked cars so those coming in the opposite direction can get through.  Much road courtesy here--people know that without cooperation, giving way whenever necessary, these crowded roads will soon shut down.  On those residential streets, especially the very narrow ones, I work on staying calm as my passenger side rear-view mirror races by the driver side rear-view mirror often not more than one or two inches away.

As we approach the school, generally ten to eleven minutes after leaving the house, I can see Adriana get ready to play the parking game.  There is no parking lot at the school, and although there is a drive through where parents can let their children off, most parents, particularly of the smaller children, (Sammy started before he was three), prefer to park and walk their child or children to the classroom.

The streets near the school have some carefully outlined parking spots--and not very many, for these streets are all residential, all houses with driveways to the street, and all houses very close together, so there is minimal curb space.  Adriana's eagle eye will hone in on a possible spot, and she rapidly speeds up to see if she can grab it before the next parent gets it.

She must be parked precisely within the marked lines or she will get a ticket.  These lines fit compact cars only.  They drive a compact SUV, and there is only inches of play on all four sides for her.  Just in case you are wondering, no Texas-sized truck would have a chance here.

We all tumble out, the boys looking absolutely adorable in their smart uniforms, and join the other parents in trying to get the children to their classrooms before the tardy bell rings.  The small foyer opening to the classroom areas is packed with parents and little boys.  We head for the nursery first, where Sammy grabs each of us, Mom, Granny, Brother, deposits a hearty kiss, and then politely greets his teacher and walks in.  Then we wind our way back through the foyer into another narrow hall leading to three classrooms.  It is packed with parents and the four and five year old boys, each needing to find the proper peg to hang his jacket on. The older boys wear maroon sports jackets with the school insignia on them over a maroon sweatshirt and white polo shirts (also with the school insignia) and dress gray flannel shorts with gray and maroon knee socks and black shoes.  The jackets themselves must be carefully hung from the correct peg so they can be found later.

Again, kisses at the classroom, and Adriana and I make our way out, often stopped as the mothers and dads eagerly greet one another and often make plans for later in the today for each other and for their children.  A multiplicity of languages is heard--this particular prep school seems to be a magnet for the many internationals who live here. I am guessing there is a parent and child from every continent in that crowded foyer each morning.

Then finally back to the car, and hope for no ticket because the police wander these streets constantly and ticket anything not in perfect compliance with the parking regulations. Four days a week, Adriana must do this three times a day, as Sammy only goes half days M, T, T, F but on Wednesday, she gets a break and only has to do this twice since he goes a full day then.

Let us just say that my admiration for my daughter-in-law grows by the hour.

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