School Pick Up or Sartrian Cocktail Party

The well mannered mother may vaguely remember earnest, angst ridden young men in cafes drinking espresso, smoking Gauloise and discussing Sartre.  The details are unimportant.   She might even remember reading Sartre's existentialist play No Exit.  And she just might, years later, find her mind flitting back to that play one clear cold afternoon as she stands waiting for her children to emerge from school.

For her children's school has what some laughingly call: cocktail party pick up.  Which is to say, there is no car line, or bus.  The parents (mostly mothers) either walk or drive and park to collect their offspring.  Of course in any clear thinking decade prior to our own the children would have been released and transported themselves home.  But that is another topic for another day.  {In the meantime visit Free Range Kids for a bit of parenting perspective.}  

Back to the modern mother at her cocktail party pick up.  It's delightful, friendly faces everywhere, people mingling and chatting about the upcoming symposium on hand holding.  Some cheery souls flitting from group to group - what a wonderful sense of community.  Or is it?  On occasion, of course.  Mostly she finds it very nice to see friends, neighbors. 

But she might have a day when she does not want to talk to anyone.  So she stands a little farther away and watches.  She might notice the other people standing back; is it a choice or do they not yet have a strong social network?  She might watch the body language of others as they move through the crowd smiling, waving, ignoring.  She might find it interesting how a group reacts when a newcomer arrives. 

The modern mother might wonder for a moment, how far she herself has come from her own school days.  Has she really studied, worked, traveled and endured raising small children to end up back in a school yard watching an awkward social structure at work? 

Of course not.  The modern mother has many more important things to think about.  Such as when is the next real cocktail party and how lucky she is to have not ended up with some Gauloise smoking, pseudo-intellectual. 

And hooray.  Her potentially mannerly children have arrived and they are off on the next adventure. 


Alex Dumortier said...

Or you can just send the nanny. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thank god my kids take the bus!

Kate said...

I have felt the exact same way as you! School pick up can be intimidating from time to time when you are feeling not particularly well turned out or social.

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