A Doug's Life: You Can Kick and Scream All You Want, but Please Don't Do It When There Are Kids in the Crosswalk

OK, everyone, just calm down.

Take a deep breath. Grab a cool cloth. Sip on a cold beverage.

It's hot outside -- darn near unbearably hot. It's mid-August -- the dog days of summer -- but for the students of Menifee, it's back to school, like it or not. And that means many parents are on edge these days, too.

People are hot, tired and irritable. Parents whose children used to take the bus to school must now search for neighborhood carpools or adjust their already hectic work schedules to drive their kids to school. This adds to traffic congestion that was already bad in a town that continues to struggle with growing pains.

Cars jammed the streets surrounding every school in town Thursday, obviously worse than last year. Students walking and on bikes darted in and out of traffic. Regardless of who you blame, it's a fact that the elimination of many school bus routes because of budget issues is having an impact on Menifee.

And this was only day one.

Yes, I know -- it's no fun out there right now. Picking up some kids from school Thursday afternoon, I sat in traffic without moving for several minutes, around the corner and several hundred yards from the school parking lot. Finally, traffic started crawling in both directions as students tried either to find their ride or weave their way past the mess on the long walk home.

On the Menifee 24/7 Facebook page, there are dozens of comments from parents angry about the lack of busing, the increased traffic and the inconvenience for everyone involved. It seems everybody has a solution to our problems. Well, as long as everyone else is spouting off, let me throw in my two cents' worth. Actually, make it six cents' worth:

Stay calm. Stay focused. Look at the big picture.

If we do these three things, we just might survive this situation with our sanity intact. No guarantees, but it's better than some of the ideas I've heard.

First, if you stay calm and think before you speak, you'll present a better argument to those who can make a difference. Many of you have threatened to voice your concerns at school board or city council meetings, and some of you already have. True, that's your right.

Just remember, council and board members don't respond directly to your comments, simply because of public meeting protocol. You won't get instant feedback. If they got into a discussion with every person who stepped up to the podium, the whole meeting would be public comments. But that doesn't mean they aren't listening.

I've talked to these people. They're as frustrated as you are. They'd like to tell the state legislators in Sacramento the same things you're telling them. In fact, they often do.

So far, that hasn't given us our state funding back. But they keep trying, keep stating their case as your elected representatives. Just as you should keep stating your case -- but through proper channels. You can gripe to the local politicians, but you can also complain to those at the top of this trickle-down mess. Write letters and emails. Be constructive, not destructive, with your comments.

Second, if you stay focused on the task at hand, you will help us all avoid making matters even worse. There's plenty of time to vent your frustration when you get home. Don't do it when you're behind the wheel, holding the lives of your children and others in your hands.

Leave early on your drive to school, take your time and accept the situation for what it is -- unfortunate, but unavoidable for the time being. Drive defensively. Be patient. If you're stuck in the car an extra few minutes with your kids, what's the worst thing that can happen? You have a conversation with them?

Third, remember the overall scheme of things. Look at the big picture. To the person who is shortsighted, it sucks being late to work because you had to drive your kid through a traffic jam. But to the person with a little bit of foresight, the money you're saving by living out here takes away some of the sting.

And to the person who really looks at the big picture ... well, every one of those aggravating drives through the school zone brings your child one step closer to a college diploma. Isn't that the ultimate goal?

They don't call me Mr. Positive for nothing.


  1. Were you at the busing meetings. I was, the board members ignored the parent speakers, it was a shame. The board got their raises but cut busing. We know where their priorities are.

  2. Doug,

    What a great piece of writing! You're awesome and I am proud to now be one of the people seeing the "Big Picture" with you and trying to help others instead of just moaning and groaning. Thanks again for all you do for our community! :)

    Jennifer Fakharizadeh

  3. As a community we need to stand up to the School board and make them change their minds, other districts have brought back busing, why not Menifee? It's for the safety of the children.