Saturday, October 12, 2013

Things that go, reluctantly

Well hey.
Today is Heiko's 1.5 year birthday! 18 months! My goodness, how life has changed.
I don't know how, or exactly when, it happened, but Heiko is now one of those kids who is fascinated by things that go. Cars, trucks, airplanes ("bbvvvvvv..."), buses, tractors, diggers, trains, helicopters (recently we could see the Chinook helicopters flying over due to the flooding -- those are truly a sight to behold), did I mention trucks? Oh dear. For a little boy whose parents are pretty staunchly anti-car, this is sometimes a challenging development ("Hey Heiko, look at the bike!" meh). Board books of planes and trains now comprise most of my weekly library haul, the farm and animal books are definitely less interesting these days.
We live in the land of the pickup truck. In the morning Heiko and I watch out the window as the kids attending our nearby school are dropped off. A white pickup truck arrives ("tha-tha," he says). A bigger white pickup truck arrives ("tha-tha!"). An even bigger one, and just when you think that must be it, there is one that is bigger still ("THA-THA!!!!"). Then follow the trucks with trailers. On and on it goes. The pointer finger is in full use, pointing pointing.
As an aside, I noticed that all of the students at this elementary school (up to grade 6) must be signed in every morning by their parents or guardians. I don't know whether this is just a particular policy of this school, or whether it represents a broader trend, that people don't trust that their children can walk to school by themselves. Instead, they must be piled into the SUVs and pickup trucks that careen around our street and spew their gross pollution into our air. What a way to start the day. Mark my words I will not drive Heiko to school! Rant over. I think...
But back to the H-man. Just like all those trucks, Heiko himself is a thing that goes. In the evenings after the aforementioned school is out, sometimes we will go play on the school playground. Last night he took my hand and led me sweetly out the door, down the street all the way to the school. But he kept going. Much to my horror, he was not leading me to the school at all, but rather right past it to see all the trucks zooming by along busy Mulberry street ("tha-tha!"). Ugh.
It is fascinating though, this world that we've created for ourselves, and it is understandable that it should be so interesting to Heiko. Fort Collins is truly a great place to live, and a wonderful place to be a cyclist. But make no mistake, the car is king. It isn't a fun thing to think about, but even a quick tour through the CDC's stats about cause of death by age group will lead you to a single, somewhat sickening, conclusion. The leading cause of death among children is motor vehicle accidents. Yet, it is taken as obvious that cars are part of childhood. And given that there are so many cars on the road, maybe I won't let Heiko walk to school on his own after all, I'll be too afraid of one of those big cars just zooming right over my little guy.
OK, well, this was supposed to be a cheerful Heiko update, and it turned into my car rant. Sorry folks. But it is something that I think about each and every day. My feelings about cars and my basic philosophy about using the car (emergencies, necessities and nature) make me a stranger to so many people in Fort Collins. Someone recently did get it though. She said, "Oh, you have a mountain car". Sounds about right.

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