Raising a child in a society of inveterate jaywalkers, who would sprint through a mine-laden cesspool if it shaved a half-second off their commute, is no easy task. Few New Yorkers are even aware that our comings and goings are, in theory, governed by little blinky crossing lights. I know because one day I noticed that every “Walk/Don’t Walk” sign in my neighborhood had been mysteriously replaced by the more tourist-, illiterate-, and lunatic-friendly "Red Hand" and "Walking Guy" symbols. And everyone I mentioned this to looked around quizzically and gave the same response: “Whoa. When did that happen?”
When we taught Robert how to cross the street, we used the terms “Red Hand” and “Walking Guy,” because “White Guy” makes me think of the Senate, and the Senate gives me a headache. For months now, whenever he and I have encountered a red light, and no cars have been visible in either direction, we have ignored the dozens of pedestrians careering past us and remained still until we see Walking Guy. And I have strained at the invisible tether, because my years in the city have put me in a perpetual hurry, even when I have nowhere to go.
Strollering is another story, however, since I’ve crossed First Avenue against the red dozens of times when there are no cars for blocks. Robert has mostly taken things at face value and assumed that Daddy knows what he's doing. But yesterday Robert flipped out, yelling, “No, Daddy! You have to wait for Walking Guy! It’s Red Hand right now!” Then he began bucking and shimmying to get my attention.
In other words, Robert is becoming just like his father—a terrible backseat (frontseat?) driver.