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An Open Letter to the Kid on the Side of the Road

Updated: Jun 27, 2018

Dear Kid on the Side of the Road,

When I get done with work at 4:00, I pass you at 4:07 as I drive home.  You are usually wearing a hoodie, tennis shoes, and jeans.  Just enough layers to be comfortable during school, But now it's winter, and I think, each time I pass you, that you're probably a little cold. 

I hope, each time I pass you, that your mom is waiting to hug you when you get home And ask you for the thousandth time why you didn't wear a jacket, a hat, or mittens.  You probably go to the school down the street,  And walk home when the last bell rings and most of the other kids get on a bus. 

And by some coincidence, I always pass you at the same point on your walk.  You're probably somewhere between 10 and 13.  My, how those three years make a difference. 

And the other day, you were standing on a frozen puddle  In the drainage ditch along the side of the road.  You were throwing rocks at the ice, jumping on it,  Generally reveling in the act of breaking things without consequences. 

I remember when I used to do the exact same thing.  I remember when my uncle would take my brother and I on walks

Through muddy fields, down muddy paths, when the dirt,  Saturated with the rain and sleet of fall turning cold, had gotten frosty. 

Brown scummy puddles with tessellated white lids, Begged to be shattered by booted feet Or by sawed off, regripped, golf clubs Dad had made for my brother and I. 

I think he meant for us to play with them in the backyard when the days were sunny,  And the grass wasn't dusted with snow.  But using them to hack at the ice, to turn a mirror smooth surface

Into a slushy mud bog, was far more fun. 

So that was what we did.  And sometimes, when a storm left a thick enough layer of snow, Dad tied toboggans to the back of the quad, And we coasted over the fields and paths that had gone from grass to mud to ice. 

I remember one time when the quad broke through the ice,  And dragged us through a freezing, soupy mud shower.  When we finally got back, Dad took pictures of the aftermath.  I teared up, furious that he was laughing when I was covered in freezing, gritty slop. 

Thank you, kid on the side of the road,  for helping me remember these things. 

Hoping you never forget the joys of stomping on ice puddles,


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