Archive for November, 2015

I’ll lead with this—this is not what you think it’s going to be.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of passing out candy to the neighbor kids with my wife and my son, who decided that they didn’t want to actually go trick or treating this year.  That was absolutely fine by me—it invariably rains and is unnecessarily cold, so walking around for two hours with whiny kids, while shivering and being generally grumpy, was not high on my list of exciting things for the weekend.  My daughter also originally wanted to pass out candy, but due to her being enamored with a fellow (boy) classmate and the opportunity to trick or treat with him, needless to say, she changed her mind on what she wanted.  So it goes.  And while this isn’t about her either, that certainly played a part in the motivation for this post.

The motivation, though, started with a passerby on Halloween who was not doing the typical trick or treating with her kid.  Instead of the usual sauntering through the neighborhood, she opted to drive from house to house, allowing her child to get into and out of her car with each stop to obtain whatever sugary treat the participating house had to offer.

Those in my generation might see that and say, “When I was a kid, I had to walk to earn my candy.  And I was out for more than two hours.  Kids today don’t know how good they have it.”  And while part of me agrees with that notion, I also see the other side of it more than I used to.  For starters, parents can be lazy.  I know this because I’m a parent, and I’m lazy; therefore, parents can be lazy (don’t take this as a judgment on being lazy).  So the temptation to sit in the warmth of your car while your kid trudges through whatever elements mother nature has to offer is not at all surprising.

But if you can get past that—say, you’re a parent but you’re NOT lazy (and…good for you)—this may not be a matter of taking it too easy on your kids.  I think, instead, it may be a matter of wanting to protect them as long as you can.  Here’s how that breaks down in my head: Any kid who is old enough, and more importantly, mature enough to cross the street on their own, in the dark, without any sort of parental supervision, is likely old and mature enough to trick or treat in their own neighborhood without direct parental supervision.  Not alone, of course, but in a group of kids, I see no issues with that.  And whether or not this child was in fact old and mature enough is unknown; the point is, this seemingly lazy parent may have just been concerned for her kid’s safety, and for that reason opted to drive them around instead of let them roam free.  The means of transportation is irrelevant—because the kid did cross the street almost entirely unsupervised when visiting a cluster of houses all in the same relative area where the car stopped.

And, especially during Halloween, cars kind of have ultimate authority on our streets.  We hope that people drive more safely and pay more attention, but when it comes to kids meandering about in the dark, a car will almost always win the unfortunate battle between automobile and person.  So, when this lady parked in the middle of the street to let her child visit the nearby houses, and didn’t move out-of-the-way to let other cars pass, she almost guaranteed her kid’s safety.  It may have been inconsiderate, but I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same for my kid.  Better safe than sorry.

And to take the safety thing a bit further—there are a LOT of houses on my street that don’t participate in Halloween.  So, driving from cluster to cluster of participating homes prevents that kid from walking any long distance in relative darkness, which is potentially another precautionary measure taken by a concerned parent.

Which brings me to….Gilmore Girls?  Yeah, sure, why not.

Some time ago, I wanted to write a post on the societal tendencies within the universe of the show Gilmore Girls, and how wholly different they are than any real societal tendencies, past or present.  If you haven’t had opportunity to enjoy this one on your favorite streaming service, or like me, watched every episode when it was on in the 2000’s, you should consider it.  It’s a great feel-good series that addresses a lot of extremely relevant topics, even today.  What is unique about the show, though, is how these issues are addressed.

When I watched it originally, I did so with my mom who was a big fan of the show.  And our relationship was very similar to that of Rory’s and Lorelei’s—very open and honest, but also sometimes brutal because we were so similar.  We could talk about anything without judgment.  She was there for me when I needed her, and she gave me space when I didn’t need my hand-held.  How my mom dealt with premarital sex, drugs, underage drinking…that was how Lorelei dealt with it.  It wasn’t taboo, it wasn’t risqué, it was just a topic to be discussed at the next opportunity.  And years later, I wish I had the self-control to be able to provide my kids the same open, judgment-free interaction that I was afforded.

So what does this have to do with Halloween?  Not much—but trick or treating on Gilmore Girls was undoubtedly not done while driving from house to house and blocking traffic.

Now, I recognize that the world we live in is NOT Stars Hollow; in fact, those types of communities are in the decline.  And I don’t have a problem with that, at least not on the surface.  But the relationships of those characters—those don’t have to be in the decline as well.  It is hard for me to imagine a relationship with my kids where if they are curious, they can ask me about sex or drugs or divorce, and the inquiry won’t be met with any sort of awkwardness or discomfort from either party.  My mom seemed to have done that well, or at least hid her own discomfort as part of her role as “parent.”  Regardless, while I strive for this, I struggle with it all the time.

My daughter is turning 7 in January, and the aforementioned classmate whom she adores has brought about my realization that the hard times of raising kids haven’t even begun yet.  She’s not getting married tomorrow, but as she builds social relationships outside of her family (which she will be doing more and more as time goes on), it really hits home that some of the hardest questions to answer are just a short time away for my wife and I.  My son is only 4, so we have a few years before we start worrying about him—but he will bring a completely different set of interesting conversations that are due to happen in what will seem like no time at all.

I suppose that’s all for now.  Thanks for checking back in…be well and stay tuned!