“Daddy, why are they locking the street?” my three-year old daughter, Jane asks as I pull onto the shoulder and execute an eight-point U-turn to head back
toward the not so well-designated detour.
Because they’re blundering, inconsiderate, pain-mongers…
Because they enjoy inflicting havoc on our daily lives…
Because they want to tear up our neighborhood and then repave only half of the street after rolling their heavy machinery all over the entire
street—leaving a hodgepodge, ghetto-style, half-baked, and half-finished ugly looking neighborhood in their monstrous wake.
I take a deep breath and respond, “Well Jane, I like your word choice, they are definitely locking up the street. As to the reason why they are
doing it… Well, if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t really say anything.”
Silence, as my children evaluate this ambiguous response. For a second I think that I might have gotten away with it, when I hear repeated, “Why are they
locking up the street?”
Because they enjoy shutting off the water right when you are doing laundry, washing your hair, preparing a meal, and on and on.
Because they want to make it more expensive for the year-round property owners who actually live in, work in, and maintain the viability of this town
and less-expensive for those absentee property owners who rent out their homes on occasion, adding yet another disincentive for making this community a
viable place to raise a family.
I clench my teeth and say, “Because they are updating the water lines.”
“So that we don’t waste any water when we turn on the faucets or use the bathtub at our house.”
I wish it were that simple. I wish that was how it was communicated to us. I wish that was how we as a community felt about the change being rammed down
our collective throat. I wish the campaign for updating our water meters was more reciprocal. Instead it feels as though we are giving everything. We are
giving our time waiting in traffic and detouring around. We are sacrificing our safety as their heavy equipment and other annoyed cars zip through our once
quiet streets. And the final indignity: we will all be giving our money to pay for this abuse.
“Dad, why don’t you have anything nice to say?” Michael, my four-year old inquires.
“Well buddy, that’s just an expression that you use sometimes to keep yourself from saying bad things.”
“Why do you want to say bad things?”
I pause. This could be a teachable moment, and besides, I’m still cued up in line at the next stoplight and it looks like we’re going to be late for
“Yeah, Michael. You know how sometimes we tell you that you have to eat your vegetables before you can get something else, like another piece of bread or
“Well the road construction in Tahoe is kind of like that. It’s kind of like eating your vegetables. What they’re doing is good for us, it just doesn’t
taste so good right now.”
Jane speaks up, “You’re eating the road, Daddy?”
There are prices we pay to live in Tahoe. We all put up with the huge influx of tourists over the summer and on big snow weekends. During the “orange
season” we all deal with what seems to be an inordinate amount of road construction. This is of course exacerbated by the fact that we only have so many
roads that can be worked on and it often seems like they all are under construction simultaneously.
All of this is okay though. It’s part of life in Tahoe. We are in a drought and water can be used more wisely everywhere. It is a precious resource that we
all must maintain and it is good to teach our children about that, but there might be more opportune times than when you’re sitting in traffic and late for
Explaining Road Construction to Kids, Not To Do:
- Use profanity, though tempting and probably merited, try to refrain.
- Contribute to the autobahn through quiet neighborhood streets.
- Blame everything on the government trying to control your life.
- Allow your children to use the heavy machinery as a jungle gym.
Explaining Road Construction to Kids, To Do:
- Have patience, lots and lots of patience.
- Investigate the cool machinery, watch from a safe distance as they dig and build. Be ready for questions like, “Why do they dig it up to just put it
- Enjoy the new pavement with strollers and striders and such, even if it’s only half of the street.
- Use the opportunity to explain how we all share water and how there is only so much of it to share.