The high road

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‘Mommy, are we taking the high road?’

The question startled me, as it came floating up from the back seat. The whole family was together (!) and starting a day trip journey to a museum or two in our state’s capital. We were about forty-five minutes into the journey, the point when the questions usually begin. Only, they’re usually about the bathroom, snacks, or travel time.

Oddly, I had just mumbled something to my husband, hopefully out of listening distance of the kids, something just for his ears to hear. I don’t even remember what it was, so taken was I with the inquisition from the back seat. It was probably about paying a bill or an upcoming schedule conflict or deciding what was included on the schedule for the day. Something innocuous…but my conscience felt pricked by the little words that sailed up to me.

Are we taking the high road? I didn’t think she could even hear me. I figured she was enthralled in her little four-year old daydreams, looking out the window, telling herself stories, coloring, look at books. But suddenly, I was very aware of her awareness of me. My little shadow…watching me, listening to me, imitating me. I didn’t want her to think that time away from others meant time to talk about others. Or time with our family was time to talk about other families. Why was she asking if we were taking the ‘high road’? How did she even know what ‘the high road’ was? I strive to live a life of good example to her…helping people in the store who can’t reach something…speaking kindly to strangers…sharing, caring, being cheerful. I want to walk the high road and show both of the kids that the high road keeps us out of unnecessary muck. It keeps us away from gossip, bullying, teasing, unnecessary criticism. An elevated view of life leads to heightened expectations of ourselves and others. That’s what I want to model for them.

“Are we taking the high road?” she asked again, as I struggled to compose an answer. I wanted to know how she even knew that phrase…if she knew what it meant…why she was questioning the road I’ve chosen…My own questions about her questions were whirling in my mind, when her brother spoke up.

“I think she means the high way, Mom. Yes, we’re driving on a highway.”

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