The end of the week left us with one of those perfect days featuring clear blue skies, warmer temps, with bits of snow still left in the shadows. The children's energy levels changed as well. It is like the open blue of the sky and the brighter, warmer light from the sun unlocked something within them. The children reeled between being overwhelmed with emotions and shrieking, actually shrieking, with joy.
Since clouds descended towards the end of each day last week for my drive home, I had not noticed that the days had indeed been getting longer. When I left school towards the end of the week and pulled onto the white with salt roads of my neighborhood, I noticed one of the neighbor-children coming towards me on a skate board. The road is on a long and steady incline and he was heading down on the crunchy, bleached-out surface of the road. I imagined that while the ride was not a smooth, Summer-clear ride, he would appreciate the clearance to get up as much speed as he could. I pulled over and waved him on.
It took him a moment to realize that he was being given an all clear. I would wait. Did I need to get home faster? His need was greater than mine and really, isn't that that the way it should be? Skateboarders, finding themselves with a bit of extended day and the warmth of a Winter sun that tells them, "Quick, find a way!", shouldn't they be guaranteed the right away?
A few years ago, and I tell this story often, I was driving to school along one of our city's busier roads. As I drove along, I saw a child of about 7 or 8 walking alone, his backpack slung heavy on his back. He trudged along, alone. That's what I saw first. The aloneness. Along a busy street. My first thought, was one of those knee jerk, indignant bossy ones adults sometimes get..."Why is he walking alone? That is dangerous." Then, I purposefully took a deep breath. Walking alone, on any kind of street, is right. The only job I have, the only thing this person needs from me, is to take a moment to watch him on his way, to see him for as long as I could, to hand him off at the next corner, the next street. He knows where is going and he is on his way.
In Germany, where I spent happy years growing up, friends' rooms often featured prints of these guardian angel paintings. The Schutzengel arms spread wide, holding the air around wandering children, creating a kind of hovering, invisible safety net as the children walk along broken bridges or on crumbling cliff sides while trying to catch butterflies. These angels weren't holding the children back or stopping them, they just ushered them along.
I am not comparing my actions of watching the child walk to school or getting my car out of the way for a skateboarder to something along the lines of these angel-types! What I am trying to say is that we, in this busy area where we live with so many neighbors we have not yet met, should just take a minute or some hours to give room for children to feel free to roam, purposefully to the store or school, but also to seek out adventure. We could clear the way, pushing back our own fears, and get out of the way, with both our cars and our adult claims on the world. Children should be free to wander, run, and ride as we did when we were younger.