Saturday, July 22, 2006

Day 22: Cheater, cheater, bo-beater

I’ve received some feedback that my tone has turned a tiny bit pessimistic. The “woe is me” angle seems to have gone from light observations to a cry for help.

And they’re right. I had hit a low point this week.

So today, when my husband said he was taking back the garage full of recyclables and he’d be by the store anyway and wasn’t there a few things he could pick up, I caved and gave him my list.

That left the afternoon free for me and the girls. No awkward stroller to position on the bus full of irritated passengers. No screaming kids in the juice aisle. No I-have-had-enough mothering.

We walked to our favorite spot, Fell Park, which is a half mile away through a shaded neighborhood. At the playground, Carolyn met a 4-year-old boy, who had been taught Russian before English and spoke both fluently, and they played for an hour.

Coming home, with two happy, well-behaved daughters, feeling a little happy myself, I remembered part of the reason I wanted to give up my car in the first place. I wanted my girls to have a childhood where they could explore their world at a slower pace. I didn’t want to spend our days in commute. I wanted them to know cars were optional, always.

As an afterthought, I felt a little guilty about not doing the family shopping, but as my husband likes to say, I have a heightened sense of guilt.

It’s my superpower.


At 8:04 AM, Blogger Eric said...

Hooray! It's great that you got a brief respite—this is precisely what I meant by "tricks of the trade". I've lived car-free both alone and with a spouse, and it's definitely easier to get things done with two people who can flexibly share household responsibilities. So kudos to your husband for helping out.

I keep tossing out "car-free", but in your case it seems more like "car-fewer". I initially wondered if relying on an automobile driven by someone else is "breaking the rules", but I grew up in Southern California. I know how suburban families are forced to grow their automobile count in order to allow a modicum of freedom for family members. One or both parents needing a car to get to work, a car needed for ease of running errands, and the children pick up on the "fact" that car=freedom. So once they're old enough to drive, they demand their own cars, never knowing that it's possible to live with fewer than one car per person in the household.

My wife helped a cousin take care of her kids for several days recently. The kids were SHOCKED to hear that we own no car. The novelty of walking everywhere was something completely new to them, so my wife took them walking through their own neighborhood, showing them a world they had never seen before. If it wasn't on the well-worn path between their front door and the SUV's passenger door, they had never seen it.

As you suggest, that's just not right. A child shouldn't have to wait until she's sixteen to experience the freedom of exploring the world beyond the front step. So kudos to you for showing your children that alternatives exist.

And hooray for parks within walking distance!

And I thank you.


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