Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Don't Hurry, Be Harriet

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Don't Hurry, Be Harriet

Article excerpt

I was driving on the Hutchinson River Parkway the other day when I noticed that every car was passing me at a clip. I checked my speedometer. Sure enough, it was holding fast at 60, five miles over the posted speed limit. So I pulled back to 55. (It's always been my contention that the quicker the wit, the slower the driver.) Now even gravel trucks and school buses were leaving me in their dust. Where are all these people going, I wondered. And what in tarnation is the rush?

The rush, I suppose, is modern life. It whooshes all around us, and most of the time we whoosh right along with it. I know I do. But on this particular day I was in no particular hurry to be anywhere. I was just cruisin' while I was musin'. I was thinking about Harriet, the unhurried child. Harriet is six years old, and she never rushes. Harriet is the shared friend of my son and daughter.

Once while doing the rounds of after-school drop-offs (it was my turn to be car-pool commando), I asked Harriet if she wanted to walk with me. It's traditional in our town to hand-deliver, en masse, each child to his or her door. It makes an event out of going home. All the other kids had already bolted from the car, foiling the childproof door locks by climbing out the open windows. Not Harriet. She sat happily still in the back. "No, that's OK," she replied, "I'll wait here and think. My mom lets me do that sometimes." After the dropped-off child had gone inside, the other kids shoved their way back into my car, where Harriet was happily lost in thought. OH, for a world full of Harriets. Not that my kids are always on fast-forward (there's bedtime, for example, and getting ready for school, otherwise known as "the snail's-pace circuit"). But more often than not they're in a rush, and sad to say, I'm often right behind them, pushing. Which is why I encourage their friendship with Harriet. She has an Old World sensibility. She has a grin like the Cheshire cat's, and she moves about as quickly as the "Who are you? …

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