The Lions, The Switch, and A Guy Getting Old

I guess I’m getting older, dammit.

I find myself looking back at little moments that at the time seemed to be difficult and time consuming, but now I think of them and long for those moments. Little things like putting the kids in a stroller and walking the neighborhood in the fall. Bedtime stories, either out of a book or made up by me, told in the confines of a blanket fort. Bike rides in the summer complete with Spiderman and Barbie helmets. That inevitable walk down the toy aisle at Walmart or Meijer before we leave with groceries knowing there would probably be a Lego set, superhero action figure, or Barbie doll leaving with us as well.

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the afterschool pick up at Lincoln Elementary. The last three years I’ve been the main pick up parent. When my wife started taking school photos for a living I was the one given the task of picking up the two youngest. Sure, they could ride the bus but it was an hour of their lives stuck on a hot bus with stinky, noisy kids every afternoon. If I picked them up they’d be home almost a whole 30 minutes sooner. More time for homework and unwinding, so I really didn’t mind. Sure, if I went home I would’ve had a whole hour and a half of wind down time myself. Time to get dinner going, have a cup of coffee, workout, or just space out in my favorite chair with a new record spinning. Instead of doing that, I’d hit the gym and work out before heading to the pick up line and waiting for the kids to be excused from the gym. It was time I could be doing something for myself, but I grew to enjoy the time sitting in the car and winding down from the day at work and the workout. And if I didn’t go workout on a certain day I’d hit the local bakery and grab a donut and coffee and indulge a bit as I listened to public radio in the car while various mini-vans, pick up trucks, and SUVs lined up behind me.

It was an annoyance that turned into habit. A habit I learned to enjoy.

Now, the kids are all too old for Lincoln Elementary(go Lincoln Lions!) The last one to attend Lincoln was my son who graduated 6th grade last year. He’s now in Lakeview Middle School, while my 14 year old is a Freshman and my 17 year old is a senior two hours away at a private high school for smart kids(she gets it from my wife.) The old Lincoln Elementary was torn down last year and replaced with a new school that has no pizzazz or character. The pick up line is gone. No more classic brick building with its reader board and flag poles in front, nor the sidewalk that laid in front of the school for 50 years. The open, grassy field where my wife conducted the Race For Education Walk-A-Thon for five years in a row(2011-2015) is filled with a new, bland school and a parking lot. Those memories can’t be triggered by seeing that field anymore, as the field is only in memories and pictures. I suppose this is progress, but progress doesn’t take memories into account. History. Emotions.

At least not mine, anyways.

It is what it is, I suppose. Time moves forward, kids grow up, buildings fall, men go balder by the year, and some memories and moments remain like ghosts in your brain to haunt you when you least expect it. I find myself driving by the school and trying to find those feelings and moments once in a while. It’s just not the same. The street remains, but a street with a gaping hole where something that meant a lot to me once used to stand. A place where my kids grew up, parent/teacher conferences occurred, school carnivals transpired, school musicals went on too long, and kids walked in a field while I played top 40 hits to entertain them(and the teachers) on sunny Friday afternoons in October. It was a place I used to sit in my car every day between 3:00 and 3:40 listening to Fresh Air on NPR, drinking a coffee and waiting patiently for my little ones to jump in the car and tell me how their day went.

Those days are gone, and I guess I’ve gotta deal with that.

The Lions Den, gutted and fading

7 thoughts on “The Lions, The Switch, and A Guy Getting Old

  1. Oh man I loved this post. Well written and clear, and hits home for me too. We’re kinda living parallel lives. Ever since the kids started school, I have been the school bus. Our kids go to a school outside of the zone of the one they’re supposed to attend (according to the city). We had our reasons for this choice. So busing was never an option anyway, as it became our responsibility to pick up and drop off when we went outside the zone… actually, our guys would be “walkable” to that other school, and there’s no way in hell our four-year-old was walking streets with no sidewalk and crossing those busy 4-lane streets, crossing guard or not.

    Anyway, in the last while, the city applied to build a new high school to replace the old west side building. The application was denied because they didn’t have the population to warrant it. So the next year they moved all of the students from the newer east side high school into the old west side building et voila, they had overcrowding and hence the numbers to warrant the new school. I don’t know if it will get built. Anyway, this left the newer high school building empty, so someone behind a desh in Toronto decided to close two public schools and shove those populations together into the high school. Which required an entire refurb inside to modify for wee kids. They started there in September and it was a real schmozzle at the start. Things have settled down but I know there are still folks angry about it.

    All of this windup was to lead to your posts connection in that our kids went to one of the elementary schools that got closed. Our guys were sad to see it go – it was a small population, the teachers knew everybody and, while it had its roblems too, it was really a community school in the old style, the way things used to be. People were PISSED it got closed. They haven’t torn down the old school building yet, but they probably will. There’s a developer here that has built at least half the town (he even built the house we live in), buying every scrap of land and wedging as many buildings as he can (and the city will allow) onto it. That’s likely what will happen to one of the oldest schools in our town – torn down, repurposed. Fixing what wasn’t broken.

    As you nailed it, “I suppose this is progress, but progress doesn’t take memories into account. History. Emotions.”

    Well done, sir!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks man. I know these things have to happen. Schools get old, out of touch, and just way past being renovated, but there’s a certain character to the old brick schools that the new ones just don’t possess. The new Lincoln is already too small, not to mention they ran out of money(re-purposed for sports fields at the high school) so the stem lab in the elementary sits unfinished. It’s really sad as these kids could use some stability and those extra resources.

      I hope there’s some sort of resolution for you guys as well.


      1. Sadly, I don’t think our old school was past being renovated – in fact, I don’t even think it needed much work. This was just someone behind a desk’s idea to look like they knew what they were doing. They couldn’t care less about impact on the lives of hundreds of families, or on the history of the town.

        Resources is the big name of game. I hope your guys get what they need!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As Aaron has said, closing schools is happening all over Ontario, including my home town of Sudbury. My ex-elementary school still stands and has been retrofit for those with mobility issues. In the neighbourhood where I grew up, there was a separate school (Roman Catholic) up the hill that closed in 2012 – a small one. Alot of people were pissed by that. But, people aren’t having children like they did back in the era these schools were built. Class sizes are way too small and it’s too expensive to run. Or…they need repair, and some have asbestos. So, it’s easier and cheaper to raze and build a new one. Sad, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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