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Crossing Guard

My son’s pin went missing last week and he was in a panic. It was his Ambassador pin from school and he needed to wear it because he was supposed to escort visitors around the grounds that day. As my wife described the chaos of that morning as they turned the house upside down looking for this stupid little pin, I simply shook my head and smiled. Eventually the pin was found and everything was right in Boo’s world again, but at the time I found it comical how something as insignificant as a pin could create such a stir in their morning routine.

But later their little ordeal got me thinking about something in my own past. A similar recognition I earned when I was a kid. In the sixth grade we were living in Silver Springs, Maryland, and I attended a fairly new facility located in the center of a dense middle-class district. I remember something else from that area that seems oddly missing from the American neighborhood now-a-days, sidewalks. In my skewed view of the past, it seems like more people used to walk back and forth between destinations then. I know that more kids walked to school because those same sidewalks were jammed with students in the mornings and afternoons.

The school had two drive-ways leading to the teacher parking and bus drop-off from opposite sides in the front of the building. The amount of foot-traffic crossing those vehicle entrances was considerable and necessitated that somebody be stationed there before school in the morning and after last bell every afternoon to prevent problems. The school ingeniously chose the situation to not only satisfy a definite need, but bolster a few self-esteems as well.

Students were selected at the beginning of every school year to serve as these crossing guards. Being chosen was a big. Teachers would recommend possible candidates to the Principal, and only those with A’s and B’s on their report cards and zero disciplinary marks could be considered. Aside from the prestige of being selected and the little bit of responsibility they gave us, there were special benefits as well. Duties would rotate and sometimes assignments would range from walking the school grounds, to assisting the teachers setting up for assemblies. You were allowed to be late to class in the morning and leave early in the afternoon. And there were parties just for the crossing guards. But by far, the most important thing about being one of the selected few, was the BELT! It was bright orange, made from a synthetic fiber that went around your waist and over one shoulder. The cool thing to do was folding it in a special way and hanging it from our belt when we weren’t on-duty.

Thinking back on that experience I wonder how much of what was ingrained in me then is still relevant today. Was I just a crossing guard, or was there more to it? The answer I came up with surprised me. As a coach, I feel that I Sheppard the kids on my teams across fundamental times in their lives, ever watchful for dangers on the horizon. As a father, I accept that my role is sometimes invisible and I do the little things without need for recognition or acknowledgment. And as a husband, I’m counted upon to be there every day, rain or shine.

Considering this, I’ve chastised myself for the way I reacted to my son’s missing pin. He was chosen as an Ambassador to his school and it’s a big deal, rightly so. It signifies the trust his teacher bestowed upon him to represent his school honorably, and recognition of a character trait that should be celebrated. His pin, and everything it stands for, is just as important as my belt was to me.

Good for him.


  1. LOL--Those momments of urgency increase as the hormones increase in teenaers.

    :) I was a crossing guard in the sixth grade. I still have my little pin that the teacher gave us after our year of service.

    :) I went to high school in Cabot. Where are you? What do you write?

  2. Hi Sharon,

    I'm just up the highway from you. Small world!

    I primarily write mystery/thrillers. If you check out my previous post you can see a description of my latest book.


  3. Don, I remember the crossing guards and the bright orange belt. They ruled the hallways and school campus. Reporting indiviuals for offenses ranging from running in the halls to being tardy. I think we beat up guards once they got to high school!

  4. It's true, we took a lot of ridicule. The ones who couldn't take it, ones who believed they were defined by what other people thought about them, didn't last long. That wasn't a problem for me.

    I would have reported your ass in a heartbeat!!




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