Monday, July 16, 2007

Ain't Nothing Quite Like Lots Of Green Lights

When you’re heading into the city on Kingston’s Market Street, there are lights at about every other intersection. At night, you look down this long, straight road and they are all green, because they are “demand” lights and there’s usually nobody on the side streets waiting to use them.

It’s a lovely view. There are few views like it. You have at least a mile of green lights smiling upon you, bowing before you, inviting you to sail along without a red light care in the world.

Reminds me, in a way, of my parents. Their idea was always, “Why not?” instead of “Why?” when an idea came up. If I wanted to do something, we almost had to prove that it would cause a disaster before they would say “no.” I don’t remember having to convince them something was worth doing; we’d look it over and if the disaster ratio was really low, then it was ok.

I don’t remember them saying, “You can’t be too safe.” I think the people next door said that and the result was a couple of wimps. Yes, you can be too safe; there are risks in everything, including getting out of bed in the morning and there are risks in not exploring the world around you. Sticking your eight- and four-year-old kids on a train headed to Vermont isn’t that risky; there were dirty old men back then, too.

They were green lights, our parents. They encouraged, with the occasional yellow light of caution and the rarer red light of “this is too dangerous right now.” And it worked.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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July 17, 2007 3:35 PM  
Anonymous HelenWheels said...

I've tried to be a green light for my girls - within reason, of course. Generally it means picking my fights with them. Eldest daughter has multiple ear piercings and wears jeans with more holes than fabric. Youngest daughter has purple hair and wears striped tights under her skirt. Neither has a tattoo or non-ear piercing. If it's not permanent, or as you say, the disaster ratio isn't high, let them do it.

I still have rules they are expected to follow, but if they can make a good case as to why I should let them do something, they usually get to do it.

They're 17 and 14, and have been told that they're the some of the best-behaved kids they've ever known. I must have done something right.

-Helen

July 17, 2007 9:04 PM  
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