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Hurry Up and Slow Down!

by on Mar.05, 2010, under Parent modeling, Parenting, Safety

Last Sunday morning I stood on the corner of Sepulveda and Skirball Drive. Ten families with children of all ages in tow and I stood at the red light, eager to get to Milk and Bookies. (The glory of that charity event held this year at the Skirball is for another blog.) There were no cars anywhere in sight. Not a one as far as the eye could see. Yet everyone stood there, waiting for the light to change.  Good!

 I have been trying to process Julia Siegler’s tragic death all week long. Julia, who ran to catch her bus, crossing against the red light on Sunset, thought she could make it.  Julia’s horrible death was no one’s fault. There is no one to blame, much as everyone tried to point a finger. It was an accident. Julia could have been killed in a cross walk even if the light had been green. The fact is, she ran for it, against a red light.  And what we know is that often kids just don’t think. That’s the long and short of it.

 How many parents make a run for it, cross when the light is red, roll through the stop sign (“the California stop”), jay walk? Lots of us do. And we do it when our kids are in the car, in a stroller, or hurrying right along with us.  When I was a school director, I went out of my mind when parents made a run for it, jaywalking right across the perpetually trafficky Barrington Avenue at Olympic Boulevard, nursery school child in tow. Are you kidding?

 Every time we hurry through a yellow light turning red, roll through a stop, cross on a red, our children are watching. And what is the message? It’s okay…go for it! We’ll be fine.

What’s the hurry, I ask you. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll be late. Okay, you’ll be late. Next time you’ll leave a little earlier.  Well, I think in Julia’s death we know only too well what the worst is. It happened.   

 It’s time to slow down. Hurrying is enemy. Not only does it often undermine whatever we are trying to accomplish (C’mon. Hurry ! Hurry! We’re going to be late!), as your child slows to a snail’s pace, spikes growing out of the soles of his shoes, adhering him to the earth, but it puts us at risk.  Hurrying takes our attention away from the business at hand. If you are rushing to make the light, are you really thinking about all the possible hazards? 

There are no guarantees.  But maybe if we parents make it a habit to walk to the corner crosswalk, to wait for the light to turn green, to slow down, fate won’t be tempted. If it isn’t even an option then maybe, just maybe our kids will practice the same, never even considering to go against a red light.

There will be times when we need our kids to speed it up. But to quote the great John Wooden, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”  Instead,  hurry up and slow down. If not for your sake, then for your children’s.

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5 Comments for this entry

  • Jill K

    So many mornings when Seby and I walk to school (he had an early morning class for his reading and writing at 7am…so the 2 of us would walk to school like we used to before Franci went to kindergarten).

    We stand at the corner of Van Nuys and Greenleaf and wait for a the walk sign, with not another car or soul in sight at 6:45 a.m in this quiet residential area. In another 30 minutes the intersection will be crowded with people trying to get to Beverly Glen and go into town. How many times have I stood there, feeling like I was wasting my time, as there was not a soul in sight, and that I should just cross the darn street with him.

    How lucky I am to have had you and all your wisdom these years. You always say, “They watch what you are doing”. So we stand there for minutes. He knows the story…we wait because we are supposed to and you never know who’s going to go flying through the intersection. I’m really proud of him. He gets it and totally waits for the walk sign as if there is no option.

    I’m so sorry for Julia’s family. I can’t fathom the grief. But I thank you again for what you’ve taught us.

  • Kathy Wexler

    I’m truly awestruck as I just read your blogs on Julia’s death and how to talk to children about death. As usual, you found just the right words, but there was an energy and integrity behind them that really reached me. It’s such a hard subject to write about (or even THINK about), and it’s so helpful for everyone to hear you expressing yourself so honestly. I think doing it in a blog truly does build some sense of community, which is just about the only thing that heals with this kind of tragedy. I realized that I had read about the accident and immediately blocked it out–too hard to realize that could have been my child, or that one of my kids could have been the driver who hit her!

    When you write you never really know who you reach, so I just wanted you to know this one got to me.

    Kathy Wexler, MFCC

  • Trudie Ledebuhr

    whaaaat this is the best post ever aha.

  • Shaye

    Hurrying is enemy Not everything can be done in a flash… sometimes we simply have to stop and smell the flowers around as this clears the mind, heart and soul which makes us a better person eventually.

    Very funny and inspiring post!

  • Chun Li costumes

    I follow your website for quite a extended time and need tell that your articles often prove to be of a high value and high quality for readers.

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