Thursday, April 28, 2011


We thought we were so clever with the XYZ thing in grade school.  When someone added ABC, we were at the height of wit and creativity.  "Always be careful to check your zipper!"  It never got old.

I cut out this picture on my recent retreat.  I thought it was funny.  Get your mind out of the gutter, it's a roadside emergency kit.  It says so right between her legs.

I played it safe in childhood.  I was (still am, I guess) the oldest child of an oldest child (6 kids in that family) and a second-oldest child (4 kids).  I was the oldest grandchild in town; a couple of slightly-older cousins lived in another state.  I got lots of attention.  It was wonderful.  Life was blessedly simple.

If we are very fortunate, we grow up in a world where we are kept safe.  Our parents or other caregivers teach us to look both ways before crossing the street, don't talk to strangers, and don't run with Barbie coatracks.  This structure of safety allows us to play freely.  Accidents happen, of course, and we make mistakes.  Tragedies occur.  Hopefully someone does his/her best to see that our Safety Girl kits are fully stocked and checked regularly.

(I actually climbed higher in this tree; it was my favorite.  I don't know why Mom took a picture when I was hanging from it like a sloth.  Or maybe I do.  I don't remember it being dead, either.  Oh well.  It was my tree.)

In my late teens I began to grow tired of Safety Girl.  Adventure Girl no longer wanted to ride in the back seat; she was ready to drive.  Or fly, rather.

In my early 20's, I loaded up my car, moved to a Chicago suburb, and tossed my safety kit out the window.  I had an interesting relationship.  I talked to strangers.  I even stopped going to church!  I had the opportunity to see that some of those things in my safety kit were pretty useful; fortunately, it didn't take a traumatic experience for me to realize that.  So I got another safety kit.  An empty one.  I was going to stock this one myself.  As we age, we (hopefully) learn to discern what to pack in our kits and when to use them.  As children, it's all or nothing, Safety Girl or danger.  Hula-hooping in socks and sandals or playing in the middle of the street.  As adults, we become aware of the gray areas.  Sometimes it's just fine to talk to strangers.  But it's still not a good idea to accept rides from them.  We still look both ways before crossing the street, but if I want to take a walk I can do so now without my name written in permanent marker on the bottom of my shoes.  Sometimes accidents happen or Adventure Girl makes mistakes, but there's good in that.  If it weren't for those events we wouldn't have cute Safety Girl kits, and we wouldn't learn and grow from the lessons they teach us.

Hop in the car, Adventure Girl.  You too, Safety Girl.  We're going for a ride.  But I'll drive.

(I hope it's clear that I'm referring to everyday situations of safety and danger, not acts of God such as the recent tornadoes in the South.  Those events take much more than a cute kit to cope with.  I add my prayers to those already out there, that you will have everything you need.)


  1. wonderful full of truth..I'd loved it.

  2. Love it! I think we all go through a phase where we get rid of the safety kit of our childhood and build out own!

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