The nine residents of our cul-de-sac recently received a nasty gram from the local branch of the United States Post Office. In this letter we were informed that mail would no longer be delivered to our homes if our children were outside between the hours of 9AM and 4PM.
Oh. Right. Sure.
The letter went on to say that the mail carrier had recently had several "near misses" with tragedy by almost hitting small children as they played, unsupervised, in the streets.
She paints a pretty vivid picture.
The problem is that the picture is inaccurate.
Yes, it's true that there are indeed children in residence on our street. Nineteen point five to be exact. And yes, it's true that they do indeed play in the street in front of our homes. Games like kickball and baseball and basketball. Truly terrifying stuff.
But the whole, unsupervised thing is where I get hung up. Because I am the one supervising them.
Now, while it is true that I may not "be there" mentally, I am VERY much there in the physical form, and these days, my physical form is...well...rather large. Not a physical form that can be easily missed. I take up roughly the square footage of an 8 x 8 outdoor shed.
And on the particular day in question my form was wearing a hot pink tank top that could be repurposed as a full sized fitted sheet with some clever stitching.
So, needless to say when the mail woman pulled to the crest of the gentle slope that leads down to our cul-de-sac and then suddenly jerked the vehicle into a violent three-point turn and pulled away, no one was more surprised than I.
Maybe she was called to respond to some sudden mail-related emergency?
No, guess that’s not it, I thought as I watched her deliver mail to the houses at the top of the hill.
Apparently she spied the children playing kick ball in the street but missed the gigantic pink pregnant lady watching them.
At any rate we, the deadbeat parents in the lower end of the street were unceremoniously denied of our mail.
Let me be clear, NO ONE seemed worried about this. NO ONE.
The Monkey-Maker responded, “Good, she can keep all that effing junk mail.”
My friend across the street said, “Just more bills I can’t afford to pay anyway.”
The only ones who were remotely worried about the injustice of it all were the Monkeys.
They were horrified. “Why?? Why won’t she come to our house? What did we do wrong? We got out of the way, we sat on the curb when we saw her!!!”
The Monkey’s angst prompted me to place a call to the post office. In my most professional and courteous tone I laid out my concerns to the woman who answered the phone.
The woman on the other end, seemed prepared for my call, let's call her "Ann."
"Yes," she said condescendingly, "I am aware of the situation you are referring to." Long pause.
She proceeded to tell me horrible stories of the scraggly street rats that run wild in the cul-de-sac. She relayed to me accounts of half-clothed children darting in and out of cars, stories that would make the streets of Baghdad seem like Sesame Street.
I laughed right out loud when she gravely recounted the story of a little girl, "about 2 years old" drawing chalk in her driveway. "And there was no one there to stop her from running into the street."
"Well," I interrupted. "Actually, I was there. She is my daughter and it was my driveway that she was drawing chalk on. And I was supervising the whole time."
Ann answered defensively, "Well, my carrier said she saw no adults outside. She came to me in tears because she was so terrified."
By this point I had just about enough of this mud slinging postal worker. Lord knows I am not a contender for mother of the year but I am also not the neglectful parent that she is describing on the other end of the phone.
So I pulled on my "Mommypants" and up onto my soapbox I climbed.
I explained to her calmly that the children, my children, are always supervised when they play outside. Perhaps she can't see me but that doesn't mean I'm not there. I didn't realize that I needed to make my presence known to the mail carrier and if she would prefer, I could sit on a lawn chair in the middle of the street so as to be seen. I said I would be happy to arrnage that but I'll need a more narrow window of delivery time.
I informed her that the reason that we built our home on this particular street was because of the safety that the cul-de-sac allows. There are nine houses in the circle, everyone has multiple children. We all drive safely and slowly. Outsiders RARELY come down into our little world and therefore our children are comfortable playing in our street.
I stated that any person driving at a reasonable rate of speed, especially a United States Postal Worker would be capable of navigating a street where children sat on the curb and waited patiently for her to pass by.
And finally I let her know that under no circumstances would I be keeping my children inside between the hours of 9AM and 4PM during the summer months so that the hypersensitive postal worker can be accommodated. I suggested several alternative remedies, such as a new route for this thin-skinned lady who can't take the pressure of a suburban tree-lined street.
Following my rant there was another long pause.
She said evenly, "May I take down your number and get back to you?"
I told her that would be fine and we disconnected the call.
I waited for about an hour for the phone to ring but the call never came. Instead the Monkey's burst through the door triumphantly waving a pile of bills in their grubby little hands.
Guess I made my point. Maybe she just needed a little "mail" perspective.