So I negotiated. “We can go to the Ice Cream store later today.” That is actually an Arctic Circle fast food joint that makes shakes and has an indoor playground. So when it came time to make good on my promise we began the long journey.
Whenever we do this I resist cracking up watching the little legs of my two year old trying to keep up. I try to keep her focused about her surroundings. A pet rabbit spotted through a fence catches her attention easily but I am more worried about cars. It is only about 1.5 blocks but it must feel like a mile to her. She doesn't care because she knows a vanilla courtesy cone awaits her.
I won’t let them jaywalk. They have to use the corner even if it is a bit out of the way. When we get there I teach my oldest (5 years) about the traffic sign. "Notice the red stop with the counting number and then when it turns to a green person walking, get moving." Out of courtesy to others I also teach no “dilly dally” getting across. It is one of my pet peeves when people stroll lazily through any crosswalk.
We get to the restaurant and place our order. I was so proud that both girls of all the kids were the only ones that took off their shoes and placed them in the provided storage area and never taking food into the play area and taking turns. I thing one of the best ways to see how kids are growing is to watch them play with others and it made my caramel cashew shake taste that much better.
When it was time we head back to the same corner. The sign turned green but the younger one was too far behind us. My reaction was to get her and wait for the next light cycle, but the older one wanted to follow my instructions and go with the little green man. Here comes a car making a right hand turn.
I forgot to mention that at a corner, you have to look three ways regardless of what the sign might say.
I shouted “Stay there !” with a bit of force. The driver of the car also heard me as his windows were rolled down, screeched to a halt and gave me the expected dirty look with a hand gesture requesting permission to continue. My oldest never left the curb but was confused and she complied. We had a short debate afterward about the green man on the sign means. I have to admit she had a case. I didn’t tell her to look three ways first. I also should not have let my little Pea get so far behind us. She volunteered to hold my hand the rest of the way home, even passing by the rabbits without pausing.
Had we just jaywalked in the first place it might have been easier to just look two ways. But I know that is not the right way to teach them and that road also has a “suicide lane”. I am clearly not ready yet to explain that and in either case it just isn't quite like the quiet road we live on laced with orange warning cones that are commonly laid out by neighbors.
As we walked home, I was distracted by both the surroundings and my own thoughts. If I was standing in their shoes this whole thing could be quite overwhelming. Sometimes when our kids just do what we say it is exactly what we want, but other times they are just doing what we say. As adults however we learn to look three or more ways at all times.
How we give our children that skill will make all the difference in their futures. For now, I am lucky just to get them back safely from the "Ice Cream Store".