October 30, 2003
He sat by the side of the school, waiting. He and the clusters of other students that milled around, some raucous, some aimless, some like him carefully timing their entry into the line of students waiting for a parent to pick them up. He had learned to time the line. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes he failed miserably. Even when he was very young, he had known which parents he liked, and which he did not. By the time he was ten, he had begun to try to get picked up by the parents he preferred. Now, he had been watching the patterns for years. He could feel the flow of them. He had his favorite parents. He knew if he timed it right, he could spot the car of a parent he liked as it rounded the turn coming up to the school. He had to keep track of the cars as they appeared and disappeared approaching the school. Keep track of the place in line of the ones he liked and the ones he didn't, then match those places with the line of students. It was a more difficult puzzle than anything school ever presented. On a good day he would go home with a parent he liked. Somedays it didn't work. Somedays he ended up being picked up by some one he didn't like, or worse, by someone who hated him. If you timed it wrong, when you got to the front of the line, you still had to get into the car that was there. But, he had been around a long time. The bad days were rare. He had learned the parents' patterns and he played them. Sometimes he worked the line sending his friends home with the good parents. It wasn't supposed to happen that way. It was supposed to be random. Each parent taking home whichever child was first in line at the time they arrived. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.