As an investor, founder, CEO and business book author, I write about startups, design, how to build a good business, and I like to muse about culture in any form.

A stark, simple example of US life vs. Irish life.

helicopterMy eighth grader came home with a six panel flyer about his upcoming high school orientation.  It’s just a two hour visit to our local public school–a place he has visited dozens of times for various events. The dense flyer started with  a detailed “Introduction”, a breakdown of the “Four Components” of “Step Up Day” (are we talking four-year-olds or fourteen-year-olds?) and a detailed “Schedule for the Visit”, broken down in 15 minute increments.

Finally, there was a two part “Permission Form”, requiring our insurance carrier numbers, emergency phone instructions, doctor contacts, and explicit confirmation of exactly how my son would get home.  The choices were:

  • Picked up by his/her parent in LHS lot
  • Picked up by ________________
  • Walk unsupervised from LHS to home or other destination
  • Other: __________________

Mind you, this is a child who was occasionally taking Dublin public buses at age ten, with his little Irish friends.  Now at fourteen, I am supposed to tell the school administration exactly how he will traverse the dangerous suburban 1/4 mile to our home?  I don’t think so.

Here’s a real-life example of our life in Dublin.  One of our sons was scheduled for a several day school field trip to….the U.K.  Enroute to a ferry from the coast of Ireland, the class of 11-year-olds boarded a bus in front of their school at 5:30 AM.  As  one boy went to get on the bus, a teacher stopped him,


Seamus.  Your parents never turned in the permission forms or paid for the trip.


Oh did they not?  Well they said I could go.


Well, hop up on the bus, so.

That’s it!

You can see why I balked at the form last night.  When I came to filling out the transport option part of the “Permission Form-Part 2”, I provided:


I’m waiting for the phone call from Dean Cole.

5 Responses to “A stark, simple example of US life vs. Irish life.”

  1. Claire Wadlington

    That does sound like overload. I don’t think we had to sign anything for our kids to walk from the elementary school to the middle school (maybe 1/2 mile) for their step up day…Does sound like focusing on the wrong thing.

  2. Jessica

    I loved this post. It made me laugh out loud. The helicopter response is fab.

  3. Jen

    This story hits a nerve with me too. In that same vein of protectionism, I muse at the two 1 st grade students who walk 1/2 mile home with cell phones in hand. Just in case! Just in case what! Go knock on a neighbors door and yell help! Maybe your helicopter can save these two souls.

  4. julespieri

    @Ken…you were deprived.
    @Jen…so true
    @Jessica….I told you we needed to laugh together more. It’s good for the soul.
    @Claire…Maybe your town is not so crazed with safety and overkill on those measures.


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