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The walk home

The more I talk about how I dislike judgmental people, the more judgmental I find myself becoming. Armchair psychologists, go to work.

Yesterday afternoon we walked to school to pick up Aidan and Ryley. Many parents sat in idling cars, waiting for their children. It wasn’t a hot day, so the need for air-conditioning didn’t seem relevant. I was walking and thinking how foolish all the people in idling cars appeared. I wanted to bang on their windows and tell them to knock it off—they weren’t being wise with their fuel!

Then it occured to me: it is none of my business what they do with their car engines. It is their dime, their car, their air conditioner, their favorite song playing on the radio rendering turning off the engine nearly impossible until the song crescendos into its epic heights, taking the listener back to the school dance where they first fell in love with that kid that sat behind them in Trig.

I chatted with the other walking moms who hovered outside the first-grade pod door—great day for a walk! are you going to Back to School night? yes, my three-year-old dressed himself today…The kids burst out of the building like they were in an Alice Cooper “School’s Out” video.

Ryley didn’t seem to mind the prospect of walking home. Aidan was a little more miffed, but not to the point I wanted to leave my ears in the cafeteria’s dumpster as we walked away from the school. The promise of popsicles helped too.

Halfway home, Ryley said his teacher told the kids about a big flood that ruined some houses and made people have to live on their roofs. The people don’t have water or food. We can help them by sending money and clothes to them. I affirmed all his teacher said.

All the kids were listening to Ryley as he explained the situation.

Sam suggested we could send fireworks to the people.

Maybe, I told him, when they have something to celebrate.

Barbara Curtis, author and mother of twelve, has some great insights for helping kids understand Katrina.

5 comments to The walk home

  • Heather (thequeenbeam)

    Oh sweet Sam. Was he thinking of sending fireworks because they would be able to watch them from their roof tops? I love the way an innocent child’s mind works. Thanks for the smile Sam.

  • Shayne

    Thanks for this Gretchen. I had the left the TV news on yesterday morning during breakfast (normally TV is off at meal time), and Peter was captivated. He was asking me questions about what he was seeing and I struggled to try to explain to him what was happening. He thinks that God sends rain to help the trees and flowers grow, so he doesn’t understand that too much rain can be a bad thing. I will make a point to include him in what’s going on and to tell him the stories of those that have gone to help.

  • mopsy

    Heather, I think he chose fireworks because we were walking through our neighborhood park. Once I pointed out that someone must have been doing fireworks on the sidewalk because there were burn marks. I think he must have been thinking about fireworks.

  • I am also judgmental about gas use, especially in SUV’s.
    Yesterday I met an old friend, who doesn’t make much money. He’s had to drastically reduce his driving, because of gas prices. He says there is less traffic on the street of his small town. This may increase the sense of community, as people stay in neighborhoods more.

  • I like Julana’s comment that maybe this will increase our sense of community! Personally I don’t think it is all bad for people to have to conserve and stay home a bit more or (gasp) have to drive together!

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