In today’s world most children are highly protected – some may say over-protected – with little chance to experience the freedom of play and exploration, without the constant watch of adults and directed activities.
But then – there’s the young girl of perhaps 7 or 8-years-old that I keep thinking about.
I saw her in Walgreens buying a litre bottle of coke around 7:00 in the evening. She had with her a small bag from the taco store across the avenue. I assume she had it figured out she’d get more pop for her money by crossing over the busy 4-lane street to buy her drink there.
She paid with loose change. I held my breath that she would have enough – and had my change in the ready in case she didn’t.
But she did.
And out she went – all seriousness – with her taco bag and big litre of coke in hand, and got on her small bicycle, (helmet free), trying to balance the coke (which looked gigantic under the circumstances) and hang on to the handle bars at the same time.
It was precarious to say the least, but she made it across West Ave. – setting the bottle down first on the meridian and then getting her bike up – doing the same on the curb side of the street.
And then off she rode into the neighborhood.
And this was several weeks ago and I still think about her.
I feel pretty sure that was this little girl’s dinner – and maybe she’d done this same thing before.
But, somehow, I believe, there should be a happy medium – where children are definitely allowed to be children, to do their growing up through play and childish adventure, but with the security and support of adults behind them.
My instinct was that this young girl might not have that privilege.
And it makes me sad. Yet I couldn’t help but feel hopeful for her too – because I sensed such a resilience and determination in her to figure things out as best she could.
So I’m keeping her in my heart.
You go young girl – you go!