On Friday, our neighborhood elementary school – the one that taught my sister and I how to not be assholes on the playground, and where my mom has been professionally squishing kids as an occupational therapist for more than fifteen years – held an impromptu car parade. If you haven’t witnessed an elementary school car parade, you should. There are mini-vans. There are pickup trucks. There are balloons and duct-taped signs and waving hands and big smiles – even from confused neighborhood dwellers who weren’t on the school email list, but just get the feeling that something fun is going on.
My mom invited me to be the “cheerleader” for her car in the parade. (As an alumni success story from this particular elementary school AND a lover of waving from a moving vehicle, I happily obliged.)
Lessons From An Elementary School Car Parade
- Elementary school teachers are, as we’ve always suspected, a secret league of A-list celebrities. Their tiny fans swoon.
- The balloons that you tie to the roof of your car will float away between neighborhoods 1 and 2. (Your knot-tying skills couldn’t quite match your community enthusiasm.)
- The tiny hand waves are the reason we threw this party. From balconies, driveways, and doorways – little hands reach to say hello to this strange and happy caravan.
- Some of the kids hop from foot to foot, beaming. Others stand with wide and unblinking eyes, one hand lingering skyward in an echo of their parents’ urge to wave. Look up to see the small faces peeking out from bedroom windows. Catch their eyes and lift your sign a little higher. We love you, Bicentennial.
- Occasionally, you think to yourself: I do not work at Bicentennial Elementary. Should I even be here?
And then: Wow, I’m feeling imposter syndrome now? At an impromptu neighborhood car parade at the end of the world?
And then: Fuck it, everyone probably thinks I’m still in high school anyways. Let’s blast the Spice Girls again.
- Teachers have the stamina of Navy SEALs. (They energetically wave, yell, and dance from their cars for two full hours. Your arm gets tired after 45 minutes.)
- Schools are where little minds, bodies, and spirits are built. In a future where kids return to schools, and parents return to work, and your community starts to forget the weight and the beauty that schools hold – help them remember.
When it feels like I’m treading water before a rising tsunami, or like my time has become a long tunnel to the end of the world, or like I’m an extra in a bizarre video game and a distracted toddler has the controller – it helps to think of the impromptu car parade. And the duct tape. And the tiny hand waves.
Week three is here, my friends. Let’s wave at our neighbors if we can.
A huge thank you to Tanya Ackerman for putting together Bicentennial Elementary’s parade. She leads our community with humor and strength, and she taught me how to write five-paragraph essays in fifth grade. You’re the best, Mrs. Ack.