About That Mistake…

There are so many ways to look at this mistake that I haven’t been sure how to tackle it on here.

I’ll start here:  it truly was a mistake.

I will admit that I speed when I drive, knowingly, purposefully, in places where I think it doesn’t really matter to be going five miles per hour above the speed limit, in places where I feel like I’m more of a hindrance to traffic flow and more of a danger to myself and others if I obey the speed limit.

BUT

I do NOT knowingly or purposefully speed in school zones.

This school zone had signs posted; it had a flashing light. And I saw it, and I slowed down. And then I stopped at a traffic light, and the fact that I remained in a school zone went out of my head. I accelerated quickly, as I usually do when I get the green light, and was up to 36 mph in the normally 40 mph zone when the police officer read my speed, still inside the school zone.

I saw the lights flash on his patrol car and thought surely he isn’t coming for me, and still it did not dawn on me that he had cause, that I’d been speeding in the school zone.

I am lucky I got this ticket. Lucky that I got this reminder to be more present in my driving, to not go on automatic pilot when I get behind the wheel. The cost of the ticket or the optional online defensive driving course will be a small price to pay. It will be far cheaper than the physical trauma and emotional anguish my victims, my dog, my child, and I might have suffered had this driving error resulted in my running down an elementary school child crossing the street or some other such catastrophe.

So I repeat, I made a mistake. I got a speeding ticket. And I am lucky.

RRR – “I, Racist” by John Metta

A former teaching colleague of mine linked to this article from his Facebook page over a year ago, when it was first published.  The message of “I, Racist” has lost none of its import over time, and is particularly salient in the wake of these latest police killings of Black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. The author clearly illustrates the problems Blacks face in speaking to White people about racism, and candidly presents the many facets of White privilege that allow Whites to deny, ignore, and protest the very existence of systemic institutionalized racism.

As a White person with an awareness of the existence of racism and a desire to dismantle the system, this article broadened my understanding and reminded me of my complicity in perpetuating the system if I am not actively fighting it.

I highly recommend reading this article and sharing it widely.

RRR – “Every Day” by David Levithan

I read this young adult fiction book awhile back, but it still sticks with me, which, I think, says something about its value. In David Levithan’s book, Every Day, the story is told from the perspective of the roughly sixteen-year-old being “A” who every day inhabits the body of a different person of that age and therefore lives the life of that person for that single day. Each chapter then is a different day, with A being a different person, sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes transgender, sometimes heterosexual, sometimes homosexual, sometimes drug-addicted, sometimes a person A likes, other times one A dislikes or disapproves of, and one time the person with whom A fell in love when A was in the body of this person’s boyfriend.

It’s pretty bizarre, and so creative. There are so many characters because each chapter A is A but also someone else. And A is driven by the desire to see and get to know the person A has fallen for, so there’s a larger story, and additional tension added when A discovers there might be a way to stay permanently in someone’s body.

I liked that it was wholly original and I thought the author did well to develop all of the secondary characters whose lives A steps into for a day. I found I couldn’t put it down, wanting to find out who A would be next. And it gets you thinking, about who you are beyond your body and about what love is, for examples. If you enjoy young adult fiction or fantasy, I highly recommend this book.

RRR – “The Soul of Discipline” by Kim John Payne

I just finished this book tonight. I will have to go back and reread sections of it, and I think it will serve as a resource for years to come. The Soul of Discipline: The Simplicity Parenting Approach to Warm, Firm, and Calm Guidance – From Toddlers to Teens is the author’s presentation of an approach to parenting (it isn’t just the discipline part, it’s the whole shebang, I think) that changes as your child’s needs change, that provides more freedom to children as they become more developmentally prepared to handle it, and that enables a parent to feel good about setting boundaries and then changing them when the time is right. I like the idea that as a parent of a two-year-old, I am a Governor, that I make the decisions, and set the boundaries, and that I do this to create a safe haven for my child, and to instill in him our family values – that we talk nicely to one another, that we don’t hit or kick others, for examples. And I like the idea that as my son gets older, it will make sense to shift to a Gardener role and finally to a Guide role. I like the idea of trying to help my child “put things right” when he does something that hurts someone else, rather than forcing him to offer the half-hearted platitude “Sorry.” I like the discussion about the detriments of screen-usage on our children and on our familial relationships. I appreciate the acronym of DADD (Disapprove, Affirm, Discover, and Do-Over) to help me in a crisis. I appreciate the warning not to overpraise, that “Good job” is a meaningless phrase. This is an insightful book with a wealth of information and practical ideas for parenting.

RRR – “City Dog, Country Frog” by Mo Willems

This is a children’s book that I found at the library and just love. City Dog, Country Frog introduces the idea of loss, but in a way that suggests that death is a natural part of life, and something we all must face at one point or another. The illustrations by Jon J. Muth are excellent. We laugh out loud to see the dog swimming or smiling like a frog. My two-year-old son doesn’t quite understand the permanence of the loss, but he understands that someone is gone. This is really just a gem.

Indignation…and Shame

I suppose it makes sense that strong emotions propel one to write. Today I am feeling indignant. Well, really, it was two days ago, but I am trying to recapture the feeling to fully report. How people can be so utterly unfeeling, so callous and cruel to others is really unbelievable.

Liam and I were running errands, drop off the recycling at the local collection site (our apartment complex DOESN’T recycle — can you read my indignation at THAT ridiculous policy, but I digress), and then returning some clothing toward which Liam expressed some dislike (“too tight” — one of his favorite phrases about some pants) to the used children’s clothing store. On our way we were stopped at a light where there happened to be a man standing on the median holding a sign that read “Hungry. Anything helps.”

As we were sitting there, I was contemplating what I had with me. I typically don’t leave the house without a bevy of snacks for Liam, so I was thinking I could offer this guy a chia pouch and some pretzels. Then I got to thinking that the pretzels were in a reusuable bag (like this one — highly recommended), that I didn’t necessarily want to give away, and did I have a plastic bag in which I could put the pretzels, and before I had gotten far enough in my planning, the light changed and I felt compelled to move along, having utterly failed to offer the man any sustenance.

As I started pulling forward, the man got a glimmer in his eye and a smile on his face and started running toward the cars that had just begun moving. He wasn’t looking at me, but beyond me. I turned around to see a guy in a burgundy pick up truck holding his hand out his window. It was closed, as if holding change or some bills, and as he drove by, he made a big show of opening his hand up as if dropping the money on the ground.

Except there was no money. He wasn’t offering the hungry man anything but ridicule. He drove off with a smile on his face, having just had a good laugh. At the expense of a hungry person, hopeful for some help. The man on the median looked at the road, searching for the coins that could mean a meal. I shook my head at him to indicate there was nothing, ashamed that a person could be so heartless. And then I drove on, ashamed that I had not offered what I could.