To The Car Who Rode My Bumper Through the School Zone

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Dear Person Driving the Cream-Colored SUV:

I may not be in the work force right now, but I get it. I’ve been in your shoes before. You only get an hour for lunch, so you need to hurry if you have errands to run or food to pick up. Or maybe you’re on your way back to the office and running late because of traffic from everyone else trying to do the same thing.

And then, bam! You see the blinking lights of the school zone. And, for about a quarter of a mile, you have to slow down to 15 miles per hour.

And you’re forced to slow down. Because you’re behind me. And I’m going 15. And it’s ticking you off.

Who does this guy think he is? you probably are thinking to yourself. You’re chomping at the bit to get to wherever it is you’re going, and I’m holding you up. I don’t see any kids out there! I don’t see why I have to go 15 miles an hour! 

You’re right. You don’t see any kids. And that is precisely why you need to go 15 miles an hour.

Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Maybe you don’t have kids, or maybe your kids are older, and you’ve forgotten what it’s like to have little ones. Well, one thing you may have forgotten (0r may not be aware of) is the fact that little kids can be unpredictable. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had one or both of my kids break into a sprint away from me in a parking lot. It scares the hell out of me.

I pull them back and very sternly admonish them for acting so carelessly. I then hug them tight and tell them that I’m not mad–I’m scared. I’m scared because I don’t want anything to happen to them, and that they need to hold my hand in a parking lot. They need to stay close because they’re little, and little children are sometimes hard for people in cars to see.

And if people in cars can’t see them, they don’t know they’re there. And they won’t stop.

I remember the stories from when I was growing up in my things-like-that-don’t-happen-here school district. Stories of people speeding in the school zone. And the kids that got hit. The kids that were sometimes launched in the air by the impact. Kids with permanently debilitating injuries. Or worse.

I remember tut-tutting at those stories. What a shame, I would think. But now that I have children of my own, those stories don’t simply give me pause any more. They terrify me.

So I know that you’re probably tired, and stressed out, and have too much on your to-do list today, and are probably a little impatient because of it. Again, I get it. I’ve been there. I still have days like that. But when it comes to the school zone, please think of your kids, even if you have to think back to when they were little. Or think of the kids you might have one day.

Just think. And please slow down.

 

 

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My Wife and I Did Nothing For Our Anniversary

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On September 18th, my wife and I celebrated 16 years of marriage together. And I’m using a very loose definition of the word “celebrate.”

I wanted to do something special, but something always seemed to come up. The week or so leading up to it was tough, as we were doing a lot of prep for an upcoming consignment sale, which ate up a lot of our free time. Furthermore, I can take the kids out with me to shop while my wife is at work, but they’re at an age where they are not the most discreet. When she gets home at the end of the day, they tend to announce things like “Daddy bought you a necklace, but it’s a surprise.”

I was determined, though, to end the week on a high note. On the day of our anniversary, both girls were in school. This gave me two and a half hours to get it together and do something special without the kids in tow. The perfect opportunity.

Or so I thought.

The night before, my wife asked me to drop something off at someone’s house. I found out, though, that this person lived down an unpaved road off of another unpaved road, so I couldn’t go more than about 12 miles an hour to keep from blowing a tire. It took a little longer than I thought it would, but afterwards, I still had two hours before I had to pick up the girls. No problem!

But then there was the tooth.

The night before, I noticed that one of my molars was a little sensitive to cold. The next morning, it became clear that it was not going away; in fact, if anything, it was getting worse. When I could no longer ignore it, I called my dentist, who told me to come to the office immediately if I wanted to be seen that day. So my wife had to pick the girls up at school during her lunch hour. Fortunately, my tooth only needed a filling, and it was good as new. My window, unfortunately, had closed.

I made the most of it, though. The girls and I did go and pick some things up for a nice meal that night, and they also insisted that we get Mommy some flowers, too. So, after bathing the kids and getting them to bed, my wife and I enjoyed home-made chili with a bottle of craft beer. Not the most romantic, but still very nice.

On the surface, you could say that it wasn’t anything special, as if it were any other day of the week. But while the romantic gestures are nice, marriage isn’t always about fancy dinners or expensive gifts. It’s mostly about having each others’ backs. I do things for my wife that she can’t do because she has to work. She comes through for me when I find myself in a bit of a jam, even if it impacts her work day. So, no, we didn’t do anything for our anniversary this year. But we do things for each other every day.

My wife, however, would probably say that I need to plan ahead a little better next year.

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