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Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Wild Babies Expeditionary Academy

Kids, Wauwatosa, no child left inside

On colder days, about the only people you encounter on the streets of western Wauwatosa are Hearty Old Broads (HOBs) Out Walking Dogs (OWDs), along with an occasional younger or male counterpart.

But seldom is a child to be seen. Most snowmen have the look of parent-built models,  especially the impressive Easter Island jobs lined up on 119th Street.

Somewhere in a shoebox of old photos is a black-and-white picture of the infant me in a snowsuit, parked in a buggy outside in the snow. Teddy, my parents' landlords' dog, is standing guard. Mom was in the habit of airing me out there for half an hour every day. She believed in the virtues of sunshine and cold air for babies. I'm pretty sure she spent that half hour in a warm kitchen, smoking Viceroy cigarettes with Norma the landlady.

I think she got the idea from working in the old tuberculosis sanitorium on the County Grounds, Muirdale, when she was a young nurse. The patients slept on fresh air porches. I guess the cold just scared the bacteria away.

I mention this because I'm becoming convinced that the only way we'll get through the economic downturn is to start our own businesses. And thinking about my own and my kids' wildish childhoods made me feel bad about all the children left inside.

Hence the fantasy Wild Babies Expeditionary Academy. A place where tots, fed frequently on bagels and cream cheese, would ramble, explore, and get dirty. Build forts in the woods and tunnels in the snow. Have adventures of the kind friend Susan and I had with the kids at Old World Wisconsin, parks and wild places stumbled upon quite by accident. (They had their own unsupervised adventures along Underwood Creek, a few of the kind you don't tell your mom until you think she's mature enough to handle them.)

Research would probably find not much of a market these days for time with no predermined outcomes, even for kids.

Too bad, that. Imagination, creativity, and soul grow in the spaces in between things, and in the places that don't have doors.

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