Through the Picture Window
A SLENDER deer, standing in the driveway, surprised me when I drove home for lunch. A variety of wildlife frequents our small ranch, so the doe's appearance was not unusual. At the sound of the car, she retreated to the edge of the yard. She did not, as would have been normal, flee into the early, high spring grass and the camouflage of the tall oak trees.Skip to next paragraph
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A few days later, this time with the kids loaded in the car, my son, Matt, pleaded with me from the back seat. ``Mom, why can't I have a Nintendo? All the other kids have them.''
As a child, I had quickly learned not to use that logic with my father. The fact that all the other kids had something was reason enough for my independent dad to decide I didn't need it.
``Matt, you spend enough time in front of the television as it is.''
``But Mom, they're only $89.95. I saw them advertised.''
Only $89.95. That would pay the electric bill, or buy one new snow tire for the truck, or....
``Look, kids, over there in the grass. The doe is back, the same one I saw at lunch the other day.'' The Nintendo discussion ended abruptly. The deer watched our car as I slowed and turned into the driveway. As before, she did not run but meandered further into the tall grass.
Sarah is not as full of ``I wants'' as Matt. Still a preschooler, she has no peer pressure yet with which to deal. The television exerts a more sophisticated pressure, but pressure we at least have some control over. Matt, an average grade-school kid, has already succumbed to the ``everyone else has one'' ailment. Mark and I are sympathetic, but we have very little patience with his demands.
``When am I gonna get a new bike?''
This question, like the Nintendo plea, was also asked in the car on the way home from work, often the only place where the children have my undivided attention. Matt's first bike lasted him three years, and now Sarah rides it. The training wheels, reattached for half a day, came off quickly as Sarah mastered the art of riding the old bike. Matt was left, however, with no bike at all.
``Mom, Nate has a five-speed but he's gonna sell it and get a 10-speed for his birthday.''
``A five-speed, huh?'' I remembered the three-speed bike I had as a teenager. I was pretty hot stuff, sailing down the paved road toward home, doing at least 60 m.p.h., perfecting a smooth handlebar shift from second to third. Here, though, in the country, the driveway was part gravel, part dirt. What Matt really needed was an all-terrain vehicle.
``Maybe we could buy Nate's old bike when he gets a new one?'' he asked.
I patiently explained why a five-speed bike would not only be an extravagance but would also be impractical on our dirt roads.
``Besides that, Matt, you've already got a five-speed horse. He walks, trots, lopes, runs, and sometimes bucks.''
``Come on, Mom, I'm serious.''
``So am I, honey.''
``Mom,'' Sarah interrupted, ``look at that hawk! He's got babies flying with him!''