Sunday, May 2, 2010

Little emergencies, little adventures

Eastern Massachusetts is under a boil-water order for at least a few days due to a major leak. We're washing our hands from pitchers, carting in bottled water by the delugeload, and realizing all the little ways we use running water in everyday life. I am okay with all this, and for that I credit children's literature.

When the little emergencies of a northeastern childhood sprung up--the thunderstorms, the blizzards, the minor injuries, the auto breakdowns--part of me always wanted them to get a little worse, a little more exciting. (I'm sure there was a line I wouldn't have wanted them to cross, but I was luckily secure enough in being taken care of that I never had to figure out where that line was.) I wanted to walk miles and miles to safety like the Tillermans in Homecoming. I wanted to bathe in a museum fountain like Claudia and Jamie in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I wanted to be in charge of the younger kids stranded somewhere with me like the babysitters in Snowbound. I probably also wanted school to be cancelled, but hey, that happens in a lot of books, too.

Of course, I hope this water situation doesn't last too long. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with a serious health problem or with anything else that makes these circumstances harder to handle. But for now... since I can't do anything about it anyway... bring on the adventure!


  1. Too bad I don't feel the same way about the oil leak. But I'm having a childhood-induced reaction there, too: Superman?!? Superman, where are you?? Come save the Gulf Coast!!! (I'm not sure if I'm picturing Christopher Reeve or Dean Caine as Superman).

  2. I know, the oil leak definitely gives me perspective on our water leak. And your response reminds me of a reaction (that's a lot of "re" words...) I found myself having to problems in the news in my adolescence: "Where are all the grownups?"

  3. Boiling water reminded me of Susan Beth Pfeffer's "Life as We Knew It" books. I felt totally ready to ride out the apocalypse.

  4. I have to admit to thinking of all the scenes of boiling lots of water when women give birth at home; Gone with the Wind comes to mind. (I have plenty of problems with that book, which may be the subject of a not-completely-children's-lit-centric post at some point, but) Scarlett and Prissy's tending of Melanie when she goes into labor during Sherman's March is a perfect example of the exciting responsibility I sort of wanted.