I’d parked the car a little closer to the line than I usually prefer. But it was easy to come to terms with that, to just leave the car there rather than trying to reverse it back out and have another go. After all, I had to get Squirm out of his car seat, and the extra room on the drivers side would make that much easier. Plus, I was technically in the lines, which is what really matters, right?
She arrived while I was getting Squirm out. It was immediately obvious, from the space between my car (parked too close to the line) and hers, that she had actually parked over the line. And, I realised as she walked around the car to retrieve her hand bag, she really didn’t care.
I pondered the idea of lines as we walked into the library. Lines, in a car park, are put there for a reason. They let us park as many cars as possible in there. They tell the driver to stay clear of driveways and emergency exits. We have important lines in other places too – the yellow line that keeps us a safe distance away from passing trains; lines on the road which tell us when it’s safe to overtake or not. But when does a line become less important?
Last year, at the school I was teaching at, it was decided that the children would sit in their class lines to eat their lunch. It wasn’t for safety reasons, but to try and impose discipline. It didn’t really work – though there’s a whole other story there – but it did make my students feel resentful and distrusted. Lines, used in that kind of way, are a way for adults to impose ‘order’ on children, to force them to fit into a certain kind of role.
I read a blog post the other day, in which the author’s young daughter had got a low check mark for being distracted in groups. Instead of paying attention to the teacher at the front, she was busy investigating her world – focusing on details which other people wouldn’t have dreamed of looking for. She showed interest in the world and empathy for the people around her, but at that time she wasn’t fitting into the lines that had been made for her.
To make things more confusing for children – while we insist on order, insist on being the ‘one size’ that is so prevalent in the school system – we also tell them that they need to think outside the box, that they need to be creative, that they need to be deep thinkers (but only within a certain time frame). Is this why the school system is so hard for some children? Because we confuse them by saying ‘do this exactly right’ but tell them to think wide and creatively?
These are big ideas, that I’ll probably keep pondering on as I watch Squirm grow, as I watch him learn about the world around him. But, as I walked out of the library, I noticed that the ladies car was still there. And, it wasn’t even over the line that much. Maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal after all . . .