Continental in the Suburbs 9:06 AM

Arizona is the land of big yards, open spaces, and the need for at least one car in every driveway/garage. This area is similar outside the fact that there aren't a lot of open spaces that do not belong to the county, large yards are a dying breed, but... every house has at least one car and having a car is a "must" for most people. A car is something we don't have which is a conversation starter in itself in this neighborhood!

Raising a kid, in the burbs, without a car is quite interesting as well. We walk everywhere, just as they do in cities and throughout most of the world. We think nothing of a five mile, round trip, walk to the craft store or the grocery store if we really "need" something; the mile walk to school is a joyful experience over a means of torture. Thus, I am raising an urban, streetwise kid in the midst of one of the safer suburbs in the country.

I tend to take my daughter's willingness to go with the flow for granted. it isn't until we have a friend along that I realize just how unusual this urban suburbenite truly is. Maybe the other realization is that kids who do not spend a lot of time traveling without a car do not respect cars for the powerful beasts that they are. Thus, when friend went, without a second thought, charging into the side street of our neighborhood to check something out... I was stunned. She then refused to hold hands when crossing a major intersection. This might seem like a small thing, but it makes me feel more comfortable as the cars are more likely to see me than a kid... safety in groups mentality.

When she didn't look, while crossing, she explained that she has good hearing so can hear the car coming. I didn't point out that there was a car sitting there waiting to turn. Crossing streets and vehicle awareness is a multi-sensory experience. Often, I think that intuition kicks in just as much as the other senses.

When all is said and done, I love that I am raising a street smart kid with an appreciation for life beyond the confines of a car. We love our road trips in cars with family and friends, but we cherish our walks, awareness of our community, and our comfort in living with our environment. To every cloud there is a silver lining!

I do encourage all parents to teach their kids the power of cars. I would like to think that most drivers are responsible and always aware of their surroundings. I am sure that most of you can attest to the fact that there are drivers out there who do not pay attention to pedestrians, crosswalks, bus stops, etc. It is so important for kids and pedestrians to realize that, even though they may have the right of way, it is very important for them to be continuously aware of the cars and the actions of those behind the wheel.

I would love to find a copy of Goofy's Mr. Walker and Mr. Driver... it was classic and so true!