Monthly Archives: July 2012

Timing, Tragedy, and Dump Trucks

For reasons that may not seem entirely logical, the murders last week in a Colorado movie theatre took me back to something that happened on a Saturday morning in July a few years ago.

I was driving my then-middle & elementary school daughters to their swim meet when a dump truck pulled out just in front of us onto the winding, semi-rural road we were traveling, and I was less than thrilled; I believe my exact words were, “Aw, come on!”  One of the girls asked, “What’s wrong?” and I said, “Nothing–but if we had been 10 seconds earlier, we wouldn’t be following that dump truck.  It’s fine–we’ll be at the pool in plenty of time for warmups.”  We went from making good time to an absolute crawl, but that was no big deal.

About a mile later, we came upon an accident.  The dump truck stopped and the driver ran over to see if he could help.  My girls were sitting in the back seat and they did not notice anything as we approached, so the dump truck that had seemed like such an inconvenience turned out to be a blessing:  When I pulled up behind the truck it became a wall between my kids and the accident.

I told the girls, “I’ll be right back–Stay in the car,” got out, realized we were all first on the scene of an accident that had happened only a minute or two before, and called 911 on my cell.  In a few minutes, help arrived from the firehouse less than 2 miles further up the road, and after I answered a police officer’s questions we made a u-turn to find an open route to the swim meet and to go on with our day.

The girls never saw the woman who was lying motionless on the ground.  They never saw her shoe in the road about 10 feet away from her.  They never saw the horse that was trotting around loose in the field beside the road.  They never saw the teen driver pacing back and forth, looking at the person on the ground beside his car, then stalking away a few feet, then returning, struggling with the sight of what had happened.  They had no way to know that the victim had been walking her horse across the road when the teen’s car struck and killed her.

Arriving at the same place & time that morning, a woman died and a teenager’s life was scarred–There is no minimizing any of that.  But because of a difference of about 10 seconds on the same morning, I was able to talk to the girls about the accident on my own terms over the next day or two, and they will never have the scene that was happening in front of the dump truck as a sad and frightening memory.

Like most parents, when I heard about the Colorado murders I thought about my kids’ safety.  I also thought about the fact that as they get older they become more and more aware of news from our local community and from the world beyond.  And there are no dump trucks to keep them from seeing dark things when they happen.



Filed under Appreciation, Tragedy

Going With The Change-up This Summer

During the last few summers, our family’s schedule has often felt as busy as the school year.  But this year we have prioritized our commitments, streamlined the summer calendar, and found ourselves with actual down-time once in a while.

In the past, theme camps at the local health club, rec center, and community college have allowed our kids to delve into piracy, dinosaurs, odd science, etc.  Sports camps have fed their soccer and volleyball skills; in fact, volleyball has included travel club camps, high school booster camps, skills-specific camps, and even a ‘college showcase’ camp.  A major challenge with the camps is deciding who should go where, and when.  If 3 kids have 3 camps in 3 different places, the logistics are crazy.  But if we spread them out to different weeks, summer travel becomes as hard to schedule as trips during the school year.  The kids had plenty of good experiences over the years, but it was time for a little different schedule.

This year?  Our rising high school junior has assisted for a week at her coach’s booster camp, and she may attend another camp as a player to sharpen up before school tryouts.  For our camps this summer–as Tony Kornheiser might say–‘That’s it.  That’s the list.’ 

But no one is exactly sitting around our house wondering what to do until we head out of town for a vacation.  Here are a few examples:

  • In our 9th year on the team at our local pool, swimming remains an important part of summer life.  It is the favorite activity for our 13 year old–practicing the early shift–and a favorite for her 9 year old brother–practicing at 9:00.  This schedule gives each day a balance of consistent structure to start off followed by freedom from 10:00 on.  (Alas, their older sister retired from swimming this year, but she will grudgingly admit that much of her success in volleyball over the years was made possible by the muscle she added to her once-skinny frame through all of those years in the pool.)
  • School workbooks and assigned reading:  chores or good times?  It’s all a question of attitude.  We’re going for ‘good times’ this summer, and there should be no August rush to get everything done.
  • I am teaching the ex-swimmer how to drive.  That’s certainly……interesting.
  • Driving range.  With 2 kids who want to learn how to play golf, taking turns hitting a few shots in a row turned this into a great hour–at a bargain price.
  • Books for the sake of books.  This afternoon my son and I settled in for some quality reading time.  He went with a book ironically called The Name of This Book is Secret, while I worked through a few chapters of Hemingway.  (Once an English teacher….)  What could be better than an afternoon read in a cool living room on a 95 degree day?
  • We’ve also found time for foosball.  Wii.  Building a robot duck.  (Seriously.)  Extra time at the pool, without laps or stopwatches.  Time with grandparents.  Some pretty wild squirtguns that I wish were around when I was a kid.  Tending a neighbor’s dog.  An occasional episode of the original Star Trek series.  (After a year, we are just over half-way through, so it’s a perfect time to pick up the pace).  The time fills itself–so far with plenty of good things.

Hopefully we will be a little more rested and ready this year when the school year starts off again at the end of August.  But either way, we are enjoying the change-up.


Filed under Activities & Sports, Holidays, Living Well, Places to Go