I am so amazed by the number of angry responses to my previous post, that I feel obliged to take this subject up again. Apparently, I've sown the wind & am now reaping the proverbial whirlwind (roughly paraphrased from Hebrews: Hosea: 8:7). At the very least, I seem to have hit a raw nerve with some people in this community. Um .... assuming most of the folks commenting do actually live, work, or have other interests in the Russian River.
For better or worse, big changes are definitely afoot around here -- especially in the proliferation-of-children department. After years of dwindling student enrollment in many of the schools around here, a sizeable bumper-crop of babies, toddlers & preschoolers seems to sprouting up all of the sudden. The majority of people I've encountered in business & personal situations truly seem to enjoy children & spoil my almost 5-year-old daughter rotten in myriad ways despite my protests. Though of course, we are normally only out & about during the day until around 5 or 6PM & rarely encounter what I have begun to call the "child-free-zone-of-consenting-adults."
It is inevitable that this change in local demographics may not appeal to some folks who were -- in part -- attracted to this area for its bucolic quietude & orientation towards adults in recent years. The sudden abundance of crowing babies, staggering toddlers, & imperious preschoolers may prove to be a rude awakening for a lot of people. Perhaps this is why my last post has received so many flames.
I like to think that the bevy of hostile comments in response to my last post come from a bunch of isolated, freakish cranks. Alas, I cannot treat such vociferous & strongly-stated opinions in such a summarily dismissive fashion. Perhaps the flames reveal some deep, underlying fear about the future of this community on the part of some folks. I fervently want to get to the bottom of this so we can all talk things out & work together in a more constructive fashion.
Perhaps the rapidly-increasing number of families with children strikes some people as a harbinger of things to come -- which may look like Sebastopol does now. To this, I respond, "Ugh." and "Double-Ugh." If we wanted to live in Sebastopol, we would have moved to Sebastopol. Of course I would love to see sidewalks, maintenance of playgrounds, a new skateboard park so our teens & tweens have a place to hang out, & other improvements which would make the area safer & more pleasant for kids & their parents. These things would also help promote tourism since many hotels & vacation rentals are located in areas which could use these improvements.
I also freely confess to the dollar signs flashing in my eyes in response to visions of available redevelopment funds & children happily cavorting about. But I also love this place exactly the way it is. If push comes to shove, I would rather do without so-called improvements than settle for projects which do not serve us well or reflect the natural beauty & creative vibrancy of our uniquely fabulous & eclectic community.
Only here could we have a parade for the winter holidays in which the local Boy Scout troop whizzes by on jazzed-up bicycles; followed by the wildly decadent, glamorous, & transvestite Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with sparkling costumes & candy for the kiddies (please note: the Sisters raise huge amounts of funds for local charities & organizations & they also totally rock) & then followed by a spectacularly-choreographed marching band from Vertical Call -- a local church which has splintered off from the Assembly of God because they embrace what has been described to me as a more vivid, personal, & radical form of love, faith & redemption.
We are so danged lucky to have such a diverse, caring, & tolerant community. I don't want for us to become Sebastopol or Mill Valley Lite. I just want for us to continue along our creative, diverse, happy-go-lucky path & do my teensy little part in helping us find a way to work together effectively towards our common goals.
But ... back to my follow-up on my recent post on Raymond's Bakery:
Please know that I love Raymond's Bakery & adore their breads, scones, & other delectable treats. I'm grateful to them for hosting a weekly pizza night & did not mean to give the impression that I am faulting this wonderful establishment on the basis of its sheer popularity. I'm glad that they're so successful. They deserve it.
I also tried hard to see things from the perspective of the large, child-free party with the big table & empathize with them even though I did feel rather frustrated when I wrote my last piece.
But when I read "Tigress's" comment asking me whether I've ever heard of the concept of hiring a babysitter, I laughed so hard I almost keeled over. We live in a fairly remote rural area & there simply aren't many babysitters. The few trustworthy ones who exist around here are only discovered by word of mouth & are very busy.
Actually, we do sometimes hire babysitters, but -- what so many people don't seem to get is that -- sometimes parents actually WANT to go out for dinner WITH their children. In a restaurant that's fun for both adults AND children & which has good food. I mean, do you really want to live in a future populated by young adults whose parents have never taken them anywhere to eat, except for McDonald's & Chucky Cheese for their entire childhoods?
I think it's really sad that our society harbors such a high degree of hostility towards children. I know they can be noisy & obstreperous sometimes. But they're also charming, creative, loving, playful, funny & just plain fun. Without children, the world would be an awfully bleak & hopeless place. In any case, you child-free folks should feel relieved that some people still choose to have children. After all, SOMEONE's got to join the workforce 20 years from now & pay taxes to cover your social security check when you get old.
What utterly astonishes me the most is how my first "Raymond's Bakery" article has drawn several outraged comments, while my discussions about the recent RRROC meeting concerning redevelopment along the Russian River -- which involves billions of dollars collected from residents, businesses & visitors via various taxes over the years & can have immense, long-ranging effects on our community & general quality of life -- have received no response at all!
Though I also feel obliged to confess that part of me feels highly gratified to discover that people are actually reading my blog. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, guys.
Nighty noodles & sweet dreams, everyone.