The Ones Who Know

I have kids that come and go. They are 23 and 27. They don’t live here, but they come more often than when they were in college. It took me a while to get accustomed to the coming and goings. Each time, I was surprised when the tears welled up as the bags piled up by the front door. You know, that nagging ache that blankets your gut when your children take flight. Really, it’s no different than the first day of kindergarten, or the overnight middle school trip, or relinquishing the car keys, or walking up the steps of the freshman dorm and being greeted by the smell of pot wafting from the windows, or offering advice about bosses who are borderline abusive. Each time, that pit down deep tells you to grab them tight and not let go…

Don’t get onto that bus. Don’t get into the car. Don’t step foot in that office.

But you don’t. You love and respect them too much to do that. Really. But we’re the ones who know. We know what we’ve given them. We know where they’ve been. We know what they are capable of. But we don’t know where they’ll go. So we talk like we've been demoted, telling them to text us when they get there. But they know.

No Such Thing As An Empty Nest

I have changed my tune over the last few years about empty nests. The pain is unbearable at first. The empty place at the dinner table cannot possibly heal. Then it’s swell. Candlelight dinners at 9 and adult conversations. Could all this freedom be real? Now I’ve come to the conclusion that there really is no such thing as an empty nest. They come. They go.

My friend Carrie’s daughter has moved home. I can tell it’s not easy. But it’s necessary. She writes an eloquent account of the situation, asking herself whether or not she’s mom enough for this new phase of parenting.

The Ones Who Know

A few years ago, I interviewed singer, Dar Williams. The themes of her music speak to many issues that resonate with me…the environment, family. Dar has young children and wrote this song as they began their journey. She echoes the ones who really know.

The One Who Knows Dar Williams

Time it was I had a dream, and you're the dream come true. If I had the world to give, I'd give it all to you. I'll take you to the mountains; I will take you to the sea. I'll show you how this life became a miracle to me.

You'll fly away, but take my hand until that day. So when they ask how far love goes, When my job's done you'll be the one who knows.

All the things you treasure most will be the hardest won. I will watch you struggle long before the answers come. But I won't make it harder, I'll be there to cheer you on, I'll shine the light that guides you down the road you're walking on.

You'll fly away, but take my hand until that day. So when they ask how far love goes, When my job's done you'll be the one who knows.

Before the mountains call to you, before you leave this home, I want to teach your heart to trust, as I will teach my own, But sometimes I will ask the moon where it shined upon you last, And shake my head and laugh and say it all went by too fast.

You'll fly away, but take my hand until that day. So when they ask how far love goes, when my job's done you'll be the one who knows.

Discover Dar Williams’ music here.

Photo: Chris Scott Snyder

Are We Even On Your List Of Priorities?

I once had a lovely student named Annick who wrote a manual for grown-ups. It was mostly a colorful how-to book that stacked all the cards in the kids favor. Her book advocated for abolishing bedtimes, and not learning about dead presidents. I recall it was published around Election Day, and we were discussing the importance of voting for a president who would represent the needs of the people. I wrote this quote from JFK on the blackboard:

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

I said, “See, here’s a president who loved children.”

Another student raised his hand, “I think you need to read Annick’s book because most grown-ups don’t really listen to children.”

I was teaching second grade.

When I wrote about Severn Suzuki, the 9 year old who started the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a small group of children committed to learning and teaching other children about environmental issues, it dawned on me that children are our most valuable resource and they deserve input on the fate of their future. ECO raised enough money to send Severn, then 12, to the UN’s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. She proceeded to tell a global group of decision-makers how their actions, or inactions would ultimately affect children. Severn silenced the Summit when she asked:

“Are We Even On Your List Of Priorities?”

Let's find a way on this upcoming Election Day, to vote with our parental hearts and figure out this mess for our children: WATCH SEVERN SUZUKI HERE.

Photo: Ted Fink

A Bicycle Built For School

For the first time in 23 years, I have no child attending school. My sadness about this caught me off guard. Believe me, I do not miss those monthly tuition payments, but I do miss how the back-to-school time marks the end of summer and sweet new beginnings. It's the rhythm of parental life.

Melancholy melted away when I saw this school bus over at Inhabitat:

“Attending school everyday has never more eco-friendly and fun! Dutch company De Café Racer developed a pedal-powered school bus that turns going to school into a happy, healthy and cooperative experience. This friendly and bright vehicle can accommodate up to ten kids and an adult driver, and even features a music player to blast all those sweet school bus tunes. The bus also comes equipped with an auxiliary electric motor just in case kids get tired. And if it starts raining, a sailcloth roof can easily be mounted to ensure the kids arrive at school nice and dry.”

Can I just say, I LOVE THIS!

I first uploaded the post onto Econesting’s Facebook page (you all “Like” Econesting’s FB page, right?) and received a comment from FB “Friend” Katja:

“Actually here in the Netherlands there are loads of those things - mostly for adults, there are groupbikes equipped with a bar and fridge, biketrains that you can use in offroad routes trough the woods and more. After all, the distances here are a good deal less then in the USA.”

Hey, do you think we could do this here in the States? I’m game. How cool would it be to grab a few friends and head off-road with that bar and fridge! OK, we could leave the bar and fridge out for the school kids and add helmets. But really, what a fun and ecological idea for areas where climates could accommodate an open-air school bus. Plus, it might wake up a few high schoolers when they hit the pedals at 6 AM.

Credit: Inhabitat via De Cafe Racer