For the past 6 years I have done crosswalk duty at the main street in front of our neighborhood. I first started when Leiya was in 6th grade and was one of the leaders for taking a group of neighborhood students to school. I may have mentioned this before, but in most parts of Japan, elementary school students are required to walk together single file in groups to the school with the 6th grade students leading the younger ones like ducks. They come home from school in the same way and parents are discouraged from taking their children to or picking the children up from school.
When I first started accompanying the children to the crosswalk, I was amazed at the number of cars that wouldn't stop to let the children cross so I picked up the little yellow flag that is at the corner and stopped the cars myself. 6 years later I'm still stopping cars between 7:30 and 8:00 every morning at the crosswalk.
For this small service, the school principal invited me to the thank you ceremony on Wednesday. Four or five mothers who go to the school once a week to read storybooks to the children before school begins were also recognized and two other volunteers were invited because they faithfully walk to the school each afternoon and accompany the children back to the neighborhood, a 15 minute walk one way!
(One of the volunteers, in the yellow vest, walking the kids home from school. Hmmm. They are supposed to be walking single file.)
The ceremony itself was a bit of an overstaged production in my book. All the volunteers gathered in the principal's office and were served tea and then we were escorted to the gymnasium where the whole student body was gathered and speeches were given, songs were sung, the volunteers were given flowers and thank you letters. Actually since the school pulls from different parts of the district I only knew the 15 or 20 kids from my neighborhood and honestly speaking, a simple thank you from one or two of them as they crossed the street in the morning may have held more meaning for me than all the hullabaloo.
When you were a child, did you feel great waves of gratefulness when your mom made you write a thank you letter to Aunt Betty for something? I don't think I did though I wrote the letter. I have a feeling the school kids on Wednesday were feeling the same way. But the principal and teachers want to teach they children to be thankful so this is a place to start I suppose.
Lovely flowers and the letters were simple but sweet so I made sure to say thank you to all the kids who crossed the street yesterday!