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Drop off your kids and go already!

By Elaine Belcher
Staff Writer

Dropping the kids off in the mornings at school has become a multi-disciplinary Olympic task. Since the practice of riding the bus seems to have become passé, parents from around town shuttle their little darlings for curbside service before gently ushering them out the door and waving goodbye before wiping a tear from their eye and slowly pulling away.
At least I think that is what is happening since I’m pretty much chewing on the steering wheel at this point and resisting the urge to scream profanities.
There are two drop off lanes where my children attend school. This was implemented to accelerate the line that starts forming at 7:15 a.m. every morning for the parade of students streaming to class. However, blame the lack of caffeine, but drivers seem to lose whatever brain cells they possess when faced at the prospect of picking a lane. I have seen cars backed up eight or more and the other lane clear all the way to the front door because of the blank-faced zombies mindlessly sticking to the one lane because they are too busy on their phones to pay attention.
I can deal with that – their loss is my gain, I can zoom ahead and still get to work on time around those who obviously have much more time to waste than I. However, the next hurdle makes me want to claw my eyes out. These parents, usually the one lumbering along in a mini-van, slowly putter up to the doors of the school, stop, put the car in park, and then hop out to open the door and unbuckle the children as if they were A-list actors.
Why is this? If a child is unable to open a door or unbuckle their own seatbelt on their own, they should not be attending school. If there is a mechanical reason that an adult needs to open the door for them, then this is a safety hazard and the vehicle needs to get off the road. We as parents are dedicated toward raising smart, competent human beings to take their place in the world, opening a door is not beyond them.
Then, as if just to drive the last dribble of sanity out of me, the next car takes more than five minutes for the child to emerge and walk through the door of the school. Really parents? Is the drop-off lane really the location for a sudden serious heart-to-heart conversation with your child? Did little Bobby ask about the nature of the universe just as you pulled up to the crosswalk?
I am not saying that communication with your children is bad – quite to the contrary. I am encouraging parents to have a better time and place to share those moments face-to-face rather than talking over your shoulder to a strapped-in child. Save it for dinner or bedtime when the day is done and more in-depth conversation can be explored.
When it is my turn, it is with pride that my kids show the rest how it should be done. As soon as the front wheels touch the crosswalk, I ask “Ready!” My boys unbuckle themselves, collect backpacks and instruments, double checking shoes and coats. “Steady!” I call as I hit the break gently, bringing the car to a stop. “GO! GO! GO!” I yell in my best drill sergeant voice. The doors spring open and the boys roll out like paratroopers hitting the drop zone. Doors slam shut and I am ready to go – 20 seconds tops. They scramble across the crosswalk and are in the school charging toward class in under a minute regardless of where in the “drop zone” we are.
It may seem harsh, taking our kids to school every day and simply leaving them at the mercy of teachers and administrators is a necessary part of the learning process. Parents are not always going to be there to hold their hands and fostering a sense of competence and accomplishment knowing that they can take care of themselves in a limited capacity does more to help them in classes than any state-sponsored self-esteem classes. Knowing we are there to support and love them as they test new skills and try new approaches is far more important than last minute words of wisdom as they are trying to get to class on time.
The next time you pass a school, keep these hard-earned lessons in mind and who knows, maybe the traffic will improve and everyone can enjoy the benefits.

Darts and Laurels

Laurel: Crystal Gayle has been awarded the 2016 Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award by the Academy of Country Music. The award was presented at the American Country Music Honors in Nashville, Tenn. on Tuesday, Sept 30.

Dart: Law enforcement around Johnson County over the past few weeks have been involved in multiple high-speed chases. Luckily, no one has been killed, however, there have been a few very close calls. If you find yourself getting pulled over, please cooperate rather than attempting to run.

Laurel: Welcome back sports! Nothing says “Fall” like attending the first rounds of competition for the yearly sports calendar and watching our talented young athletes strive toward victory.

Dart: Sunday marked the final day of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Between athlete scandals, to lime green polluted water and now an international health epidemic thanks to the mosquitos, we’re glad to see it go. We’ll try again next time in Tokyo in 2020.

Laurel: The Johnson County School District is looking ahead and participating in the Kentucky Work Ready Skills Initiative to better prepare students to walk out of a classroom and into a workplace where they can be competitive on an international level.

Darts & Laurels

A laurel to Paintsville being named on of the safest cities in Kentucky. Home security and safety brand SafeWise released the top 20 safest cities in Kentucky and Paintsville is #19 after reviewing FBI crime statistics and population data.

A dart to the lack of interest in local political races. With last Tuesday afternoon as the final filing date for the November elections in the school boards and city council races, the people of Johnson County obviously are happy with local government since we will only see two new faces on those ballots. We hear a lot of empty complaints with few new people stepping up to meet the challenges of our communities.

A laurel to the Ramey Branch Gospel Church and its members for making a promise to rebuild and doing it after last year’s devastating floods destroyed their church. A lot of heart and soul is being used to rebuild this church and we can’t wait to see the finished product.

A dart to the possibility of fines facing Paintsville Utilities for the renovations required to the 20-year facilities plan as required by the Kentucky Division of Water. The Kentucky Division of Water has threatened to fine Paintsville up to $25,000 per day for each violation unless the renovation takes place. It’s time for local government to make a decision that is in the best interest for all and not acquire fines that the taxpayers will have inevitably have to pay.

A laurel to our local Relay for Life event that was held Friday, August 5 at the Paintsville Recreation Center. Volunteers and participants braved the sweltering heat and humidity to raise funds for cancer research. For more information about Relay for Life, call the American Cancer Society at 1(800)227-2345 or contact the Johnson County Relay for Life Facebook page.


Boys vs. Girls

By Elaine Belcher
Staff Writer

It started at eight-years of age when puberty started setting in and I started developing into a young lady.
“Don’t run or jump,” my Mom would chide me as I tried to go play on the playground with other kids.
“Why not?” I asked in all innocence.
Glancing down at my developing chest, Mom snapped, “Just don’t.”
This was the first, and definitely not the last time I got admonished for being the child I was. While my friends were playing My Little Pony, I had to go shopping for my first “grown up” bra and girdle. Why my mother thought an eight-year old girl needed a girdle, I don’t know. My standards of behavior were expected to reflect this idealized sense of “being a lady” overnight.
I think my mother’s dress sense developed in the 50’s and never really changed, even though at that point, it was the 80’s. She was practical enough to let me wear jeans to school, but the shirts were always bedazzled, trimmed in lace or pink, as if I needed reminding that I was a girl. I hated pink!
Admittedly, I needed the reminding on occasion. I was a tomboy through and through. I spent more time in trees than on the ground and always the first to play Star Wars or Indiana Jones with my friends. I got in my share of scraps and whatever school I attended, quickly established my reputation for being fair, and no one to cross. It was probably my way of rebelling against my mother’s wish for a girly-girl.
God was kind enough to provide me with two lovely boys to raise, and I make sure that I don’t make the same mistakes that my own mother did by assuming that just because they are boys, they will always act like boys. One son like touches of pink in his bedroom and plays with My Little Ponies. Admittedly, more along the lines of My Little Pony vs. The Walking Dead, but you get the idea.
The other son is curious about the world and worried about taking care of us and himself – so I am teaching him how to cook, wash clothes and all those other little skills that help turn someone into a responsible adult. But I also chase him out of the house to play with his friends as well.
Our children are growing up in an era where they do not have to fall into narrowly defined gender roles. Girls are no longer expected to drop all personal ambitions to get married and raise children. Boys are no longer expected to be physical go-getters more interested in pursuing a career than spending time at home with the family.
Parents are working hard to instill the same values in both boys and girls, to care for children, rule the boardroom, work and maintain your own home. No specific set of skills are considered “girly” or “for a boy.”
Thank goodness for these changes. These days, I feel more comfortable in jeans and my husband’s tee-shirts and boots than anything with lace or in pink, and no one looks sideways at me. My mother has learned that her worries were in vain, and I do, in fact, know how to behave like a lady when the situation requires it.
Although, I still hate pink.

Darts & Laurels

Laurel – To the many organizations and people who stepped forward and contributed to back-to-school events, making sure that Johnson County Students are ready to face a new year of academics fully supplied and supported.

Dart – Low attendance at public meetings and community events are directly related to unpopular decisions and lack of oversight among public officials. An investment of a little time and community involvement can make our town a better place.

Laurel – Brian Balch, Paintsville Golf Course manager is doing a fantastic job balancing the need to keep the grounds beautiful with the roving elk and her calf that have decided that the golf course is the place to be. His humane and sensible course of action hopes to guide the troublesome animals to a better place to live. Good luck Brian!

Dart – Individuals choosing to run for Paintsville City Council waited until the last minute to meet the Aug. 9 deadline to register with Sallee Holbrook, Johnson County Clerk. Other offices up for election this year is the Johnson County School Board and the Johnson County Soil Conservation District.

Laurel- The 14th annual Van Lear Days celebration had beautiful weather and a fantastic turnout. Funds raised at the celebration go toward the annual operating budget for the Van Lear Historical Society to maintain and repair their properties. Warm smiles and an open heart made the day fun for a lot of people.

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