Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walking to School

Last week I wrote a blog about being “civil” and I said that Cong. Wilson behaved badly and additionally, was a racist or at least, he didn’t like the idea of a Black guy in charge of the nation so he felt entitled to call the President a liar regardless of venue. I received a number of comments about how that made me a racist. I maintain that being from the South doesn’t make anyone a racist, “some of my best friends are Southerners” – none of whom are racists – but all of whom think Wilson is. And so does Maureen Dowd (who wrote about it long after I did.)
And so do any number of other people who have been civil rights advocates. And yes, I am particularly sensitive to this because I have spent a lifetime trying to promote understanding for individual differences. Amen

Changing the subject—I hate to linger on things that are merely repetitive. There seems to be yet another major national question, with which all parents are struggling. At what age should you allow your children to walk to school. As far as I’m concerned, parents never want to let their children walk to school. And yes, I am using “walk to school” as a metaphor for life, but isn’t a creative metaphor what all of us, who think we can write, search for every time we sit at the computer. The point is that most parents try to protect their children for as long as they can. And when they no longer get to dictate what a grown child can do, they still worry about their safety. It’s an ongoing and relentless consequence of the decision to give birth. Having been the kind of parent who followed her children when they walked to school (an infrequent event), and having secretly followed my daughter when she took her first subway ride , I can honestly say, I would still follow them (just to make sure they look both ways when they cross the street), if I could be assured they would never find out.

And speaking of children, recently on the “West Wing” (to which I am addicted, even though I have already seen most of the shows twice), the President’s daughter was kidnapped, returned and in therapy. She was not crossing the street, she was in a nightclub surrounded by people. Yes, that’s only a TV show but kidnapping children is a full time profession for far too many scum bags. And then there is Annie Le, a Yale graduate student who was murdered at her Lab the week before her wedding. They have a suspect in custody – another student. Annie was not crossing the street.
Or Shapiro who was struck by Dr. Raymond Cook, an assistant professor at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill and a doctor at WakeMed Hospital. Elena was just driving along, maybe thinking about the kind of career upon which she was about to embark.

When you have children you automatically think you should be straining the air with chicken soup, so they don’t get a cold. You want them to be healthy, safe, secure, and wise about they way they face the world. You cannot be with them 24/7 so mostly you hope for the best. Walking them to school until they are 23 may be the answer to the question about when they should walk alone, or it might be 5 or 8 or 10.
There was a time when this wasn’t even a question because, unless you lived in a city, you were expected to get yourself to school by the time you were in first grade. Maybe, in retrospect, I am imagining things were gentler than they were. Maybe, as a consequence of the immediacy of the media, we are able to hear about more horrors more quickly. And just maybe, we have become a nation where, because there is no such thing as safety, (or civility), we can no longer let our children “walk to school” at all. We’re just sayin’….Iris

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