At least twice a week I take my son to his fencing practice. The school is located in a large warehouse that houses another indoor sports practice facility and several commercial businesses. Because his practices are in the evenings and on weekends, the parking lot is often fairly empty. Because the complex borders and was once part of the airport, the parking lot is expansive. Because the space has shifted from its original function, the parking lot has a meandering pathway.
The complex has been repurposed but shadows of the old life remain. There are extended parking lines, once designed for airport fire and safety trucks. There are driving patterns that lead to an unattended and slowly collapsing guard booth. There are overhead apparatus which used to reach over the tops of planes. The striping in the parking lot was devised for a different purpose, but there are sufficient parking spaces mapped out to meet the needs of the businesses now calling this home so no one has bothered to change or freshen the paint. The faded lines remain as they were, perhaps waiting to be brought back to life.
The driving lanes striped into this parking lot are not straight and direct from the entrance to the end of the building. They turn this way and that way. They weave to the left of this parking area, and to the right of that parking area. There are stop signs seemingly in the middle of nothing. When I bring my son to practice, I follow the lanes as they are painted. I stop at the stop signs for no one in particular. I am the only one who follows the path. I have watched while sitting in my car waiting for him to come out. Every car that comes in or leaves, whether by the North or South driveway, ignores the lanes and signs. Everyone else takes the more direct path, moving across the faded lines.
I’ve had people honk at me after having cut across 10 parking spaces in a diagonal line as they suddenly came upon me in the lane. I have stopped while people cut in front of me, oblivious to my presence because they were making their own path. I’ve watched cars park in the driving lane either without knowledge or without caring that they had done this. I have watched this like a metaphor for my life: always me….the rule-follower. Then I wonder what message my son sees in this.
Does he watch me taking the long route and think, “why would she do this when it clearly doesn’t matter – there is no one enforcing the driving pattern?” Does he feel me stop short to prevent an accident when another car wasn’t watching and wasn’t following the painted pathway and wish I could just do it like everyone else? Does he find me rigid and unreasonable in my methods?
But, he also sees me following the rules that are given even when no one is watching. He learns integrity. He sees me following the rules and not following the masses. He learns individualism. He sees me giving grace to drivers who force me to change my path because they aren’t following the rules. He learns compassion. He sees when one more car may notice the painted lines or the stop sign because they were following me. He learns leadership. He sees me continue with this, week after week, no matter how many times we watch others cars do it their own way. He learns conviction of values.
He sees me. Maybe there is a good message there for him.
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