Waayy down on small towns

We moved to the tiny town we live in for practical reasons: inexpensive housing and a 4-minute commute to BigCo which was based there in the middle of a cornfield. It was nice. No one locked their doors, people leave their cars running in parking lots in the winter, services are cheap, blah blah blah. I bitched about the lack of restaurants but overall it was okay; it was 45 minutes from one of my favorite mid-sized cities and we “went in” when we needed or wanted to.

Then first boy was born and I thought, well, this is the American childhood dream, right? A place where everybody knows your name, all innocent and friendly? I was worried about the lack of diversity, yes, and the alarming frequency of high-schoolers getting married at the local bowling alley, but houses were getting more and more expensive in my favorite mid-sized city and it was easier to “move up” house-wise in our little town.

Until it wasn’t. And what small towns lack, of course, is not just restaurants or summer camps or specialty stores. It’s not just options to do; it’s options to be. My boy isn’t even in elementary school yet but I’m asked all the time what sport he’s chosen. The kid took swimming lessons for 10 days last summer and it was a disaster. He’s a butterfly chaser, easily distracted, not sure why he’d line up and run to the far post if there’s something more interesting right behind him. In short, not ready for organized sports.

A dear friend of mine, whom I consult with over almost every decision I make said, Well, you don’t need to push sports on him, but playing something sure greases a lot of wheels here.

Yes. Sure. But he loves to draw. And he walks around talking to himself and examining bugs. He often pretends he’s a spy or a race-car driver. This little town doesn’t have options for that.

Summer approached. His options for any sort of activity was the aforementioned swim lessons (he failed his level, so he could repeat) and soccer. I want him to know how to swim.  Great.  But he has zero interest in soccer.  But he’s bright and imaginative and curious and he’d love to learn about nature or how things work or art.  Sorry, kid.  And I thought, enough.  We need to give this kid some options, some ways to explore and be who he is.

We had several house showings this weekend. We needed to get out of the house on Sunday. The only things open we could take two restless little boys and two exhausted parents were McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. And that’s what we did, eating greasy food none of us really wanted, the older one playing at the McD’s Playland while we tried to keep the little one from putting his mouth on disgusting child-touched surfaces,  and then walking the aisles at Wal-Mart, letting older boy window-shop the action figure toys.

And we realized: grown ups deserve options too. Small towns have their charms but I’m hard-pressed to come up with a single one right now. Yes, we’ll soon have to lock our doors. I’m willing to lock my door to have a life.

2 Responses to “Waayy down on small towns”

  1. terry says:

    wow – harsh.

  2. Adrienne says:

    I agree with Elizabeth on this one. We’re so much more happy living in Appleton. My oldest does fit in here because he does have options. I hope you are happy in your new town!

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