kids

City mouse, country mouse

When it comes to race, religion, color and creed, our kids are fairly open-minded.

They are nonjudgemental. I’d hazard to say that they are “colorblind,” concerning race and ethnicity.

(Let’s hope they retain these views.)

Now that I’ve logged these niceties, I must add the following:

The kids are not without bias. They discriminate against a group of people.

Who’s caught in their crosshairs? Whom do they stereotype? Whom do they disparage?

City folk.

You people who deign to dwell in a townhouse.

Even you guys who own a quarter-acre in the suburbs.

You’re guilty as well.

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Martin and I first learned of this disparity last year, while we were all staying in a hotel in Washington, DC. It was an unusually warm December day, and kids of all ages were careening down a steep, grassy hill that adjoined the hotel courtyard.

Cayden led the charge down the slope and when he reached the bottom, he shouted to his sister: “Hey, Hadley!  DON’T KNOCK OVER THE CITY KIDS! They don’t know how to FALL like farm kids, and their parents will FREAK out!”

Okay! Got it!” Hadley shouted in response, suspiciously eyeing the kids beside her.

Martin and I exchanged looks. And we slouched down in our seats.

Just like that, a stereotype was born. City kids versus country kids. And our children continue to feed it, vocalizing apparent inadequacies of urban dwelling individuals.

In case you’re keeping track, urbanites are fragile, weak, easily injured and incapable of handling stressful situations. 

Last summer — after I encountered a deer with my car — I told the kids about the accident. And I mentioned that another driver was equally unlucky: she also struck the same deer with her car, and was unhinged by the event.

Hadley nodded at me knowingly. “That other driver,” she said. “Was she…you know… city folk?”

 

The irony of all of this? Our kids aren’t as country as they think. We don’t own a working farm. Our kids can’t drive a tractor or milk a cow. Their agriculture roots are thin.

Still, they are loyal to rural life.

A few weeks ago, I had to run some errands in downtown DC, and Cayden and Hadley tagged along. We’d barely crossed a street before it became clear that the kids were out of their element. I shepherded them between traffic and yelled as they strayed outside the crosswalk.

“Jeez!” I said, grabbing their collars. “You country kids can barely cross the street! You wouldn’t survive a day in the city!”

“Huh,” Cayden snorted. “Who would want to?”

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The Yardstick

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Poolesville Day, an annual community event, has become the yardstick with which I measure the kids’ growth.

We’ve attended these festivities for several years; often, I’ve brought my camera. And the images I’ve collected provide a barometer of age.

The pictures are a better measure than Christmas or Halloween memories, because the exact same setting is reproduced each year.

That’s the constant about Poolesville Day: it’s held the same weekend each year, with the same activities, stationed in the same place each time.

Inevitably, Cayden, Had and Brynn are drawn to certain attractions, and I document these events. The same rope walk, same backdrop, same kid, just a different year.

It is the ultimate measuring stick.

Toddler Hadley:

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Hadley now:

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Brynn then:

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Brynn now:

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I prefer candid photos, but in the future, I imagine urging the kids to recreate previous experiences — scaling the climbing wall or clambering atop a tractor when they’re older. Maybe when they’re teens.

If they’re still talking to me then.

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The Egg Tree

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The other day, Cayden came home in a gloomy mood. I tried to cheer him up with offerings of pizza and unfettered TV use. How about the Ipad?

Nothing worked until I opened the fridge and checked the battered carton on the top shelf. “Want to do the egg tree?”

The egg tree. No relation to the cat tree.

I don’t remember when I hatched (groan) this plan. It was probably about 6 months ago. As faithful readers know, our kind neighbors keep us well stocked in eggs. One day I came upon a few cracked ones — which must be discarded — and just before I trashed them, I thought about smashing them.

Tossing them in the trash seemed wasteful. Plus, I wanted to egg something.

I considered an appropriate target. Some place where splattered yolks would be inconsequential. Where the wildlife would clean up the mess.

And along the driveway there’s a small cluster of junk trees. Surrounded by a no man’s land swath of grass. Ideal targets.

That first day I ushered the kids to the trees and invited them to commence throwing. Like soldiers in a firing squad, they lined up and took aim. (The actual egg tree is a particularly skinny and crooked little tree; perhaps they chose it for the added challenge). The kids were thrilled when they struck their target. When they missed, some of the eggs would survive and make it to the next round.

Since the first egging, I’ve taken to saving up the cracked ones until we’ve got a few. Hurling them is a great stress reliever.

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A millisecond before impact

If there’s a more practical use for inedible eggs — a viable method to recycle them — I don’t want to know about it.

Pitching them at a tree is much more fun.

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