As I was dropping B off at school today, one of his teachers was helping to wrangle some of the 5 year olds for a field trip (something to do with school next year, so only the oldest kids were involved). I said hello, got B’s coat off and waited while he changed his shoes, walked him to class, gave him a hug and kiss and headed to catch the bus to go home.
While I was waiting for my bus, the teachers and kids from B’s school came along. They walked along the sidewalk, about 14 kids and 3 teachers. This is a common sight in Austria — kids out on field trips or walks to the parks, bundled into coats, hats and mittens, lined up two-by-two, holding hands and flanked by teachers. It is very sweet.
In order to catch the bus going the other way, they all had to cross the street, and I watched with interest, because, on a different day, it might have been my child crossing the road without me.
The first teacher stopped the line, carefully looked both ways for cars, and stepped out into the crosswalk. She walked halfway across, and stopped, facing the lane of traffic (no cars were coming). Another teacher waited with the kids while the third joined the first, but on the opposite side of the crosswalk and facing the other direction of traffic. They held their arms out, creating a bridge for the kids across the road while the third teacher herded them across.
When they reached the other side, the kids gathered and waited while the teachers caught up, collected hands, got the kids back in line and set off again. They moved quickly and efficiently without much discussion or any indecision. It’s obvious that they’ve all done this before.
The way they handled it — carefully and seriously but without extra stress — was incredibly comforting, and the way the teachers stood in the road, watching everything and blocking the cars, was so caring and protective that it brought tears to my eyes.
They were so focused that they didn’t see me until they’d crossed to the other side of the street and made it to the bus stop opposite from where I was standing. It was a pleasant surprise to see something so comforting and confidence inspiring as I spied on them a little. I am really happy by the level of care and attention that I saw, and the next time B is out with his class, I might worry a little less. (But still, only a little.)