Guest Column: Teach your children well | SierraSun.com
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Guest Column: Teach your children well

Katie Shaffer

Sometimes our children mimic us in ways that are meant to teach us lessons such as this one that I learned the other day: Those of us who are grownups should keep our thoughts to ourselves more often, especially while driving around town.

An example happened recently while I was driving with my children across town. As we came to the roundabout, a car cut in front of us even though we were already traveling in the circle and so I believed I had the right of way. As I put on my brakes and let the guy who was in a big hurry into the circle ahead of me, my nine-year-old piped up from the back seat, “Tourist!”

Unfortunately, my kids have somehow gotten the idea that all speeding cars must be people from out of the area. They believe that rude people do not live in Truckee; they visit our town and come from elsewhere. I had to quickly inform my kids that, yes, the driver of that car was aggressive and speeding, but since it was a Subaru, with a Keep Tahoe Blue bumper sticker on the rear windshield, it was more likely a local who just happened to drive fast and impolitely. They accepted my explanation about how you might identify a local by car make or bumper sticker, but I am realizing that at 9 and 12, their opinions regarding tourists are well-developed with a definite bias toward the negative.

As I shared this story with a friend of mine, she of course had a story to match. She told me that as she was coming through the three-way stop downtown, her seven-year-old daughter said to a hesitating car, “Any day now!”

I guess this is something that all parents need to hear: that our funny, wonderful, impressionable children generally do perceive the world the way we present it to them.

Maybe it’s too late for me to work on correcting my children’s perceptions about tourists. After all, I could just accept it as part of my children’s unique Truckee upbringing – part of what separates them from their counterparts living elsewhere in the country. There are many things, in fact, about growing up in Truckee that are different from living in most metropolitan areas, and one of those things is a first-hand knowledge of how tourists affect your town.

Then again, I could also try a little harder to change their view.

I need to figure out how to get my point across to my kids that we need to appreciate the worthy tourists who provide incomes for many of us locals. The hurdle lies in the fact that my children are old enough now, that they are aware that during high season, our roads become crowded and the lines at the grocery store are jammed.

I need to think this through and have an answer ready before I present my pro-tourist ideas, because I’ve already tried reminding them that we become tourists when we visit other areas, to which I’ve been told: “Yeah, and it’s embarrassing.”

Katie Shaffer has lived in Truckee since September of 1981.


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