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Family Valued 10.05.05

The season of the maze

I did something odd a couple weeks ago. I looked up at the sky and realized that the sun was in its place and all was right with the world --- at least no dark clouds threatened. I looked around my house and noticed the usual array of stuff, but it was the copious amounts of sidewalk chalk that drew my attention. Apparently, when left alone, buckets of fist-size chalk produce smaller boxes of slimmer, artier colors. I did what any sane person would do with this chalk blessing: I made a maze on our driveway.

We have a long urban driveway that stretches to the detached garage at the back of our lot, so this was a large maze --- the kind that made passers-by stop and ask, "What were you thinking?"

My anecdotal experience had told me that pretty much everyone likes a good maze. Certainly, the corn farmers of America would agree. Satisfaction abounds in watching the neighborhood stroll through a maze that is as ephemeral as the arboreal autumn explosion.

This winter I look forward to trying out a very old maze game: the Fox and Geese. Everyone mashes down a knot of paths through the snow plus a den and a nest. One of the players is designated the fox and must pursue the geese through the maze. When captured, the goose must go straight to the den and await consumption. Another goose can rescue them, but only at the greatest danger to itself. The nest is sacrosanct.

--- Craig Brownlie

Calling all hypocrites, part II

Last spring I wrote about buying my 6th-grade son a cell phone despite reservations about giving children expensive gadgets. My rationale was that his many after-school activities required transferring to a late bus that occasionally left without some of the kids. Rather than have him slumped outside a strange building without access to a pay phone, I got him the cell, daring other parents to judge us.

A month later, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the house phone rang. I picked it up.

"Hi, Mummy," said our younger son.

"Where are you?" I was confused.

"In the tree house."

I walked over to the window but I couldn't see him. "Is everything alright? Is your brother there?"

"Yeah," he said. "It's just that we're thirsty. Can you bring us some lemonade?"

I hung up and look at my husband. "It's happened," I said, grim. "They are officially spoiled."

He nodded and said, "We have to teach them a lesson." Thank goodness he agreed with me. We brainstormed. We'd need to start right away. They had it too good. More chores? Working with disadvantaged people? Something to teach them about life, about responsibility, and fast.

"But, honey?" my husband said. "Aren't you going to bring them the lemonade?"

"Right! I almost forgot," I said, hustling into the kitchen.

--- Jennifer Loviglio

This week for families

Blessing of the Animals Sat, Oct 8. St. George's Episcopal Church and Kelly's Apple Farm, 659 Wilder Rd, Hilton, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 392-8102

RCSD Parent Leadership Academy Tuesdays through Oct 25. Parent Center, 30 Hart St, Rm 126, 6-8 p.m. Free. 324-9960

Spooky Swap! Fri, Oct 7. Storytelling Guild, Barnes & Noble, 3349 Monroe Ave, 7 p.m. 530-0520