Time to watch language

Published 11:05 pm Monday, July 7, 2008

By Staff
The headlines in newspapers across the country continue to bemoan the cost of gas.
Some of the things I've read about the “pinch at the pump” we've all been feeling have been eye opening. I've found a few ways to help with gas mileage in my vehicle. It's not much, but every little bit helps.
One of my main concerns is just how much everyone is talking about this crunch. My neighbors, co-workers, family, friends and even complete strangers have stopped me to talk and the topic usually, very quickly, gets to the price of gasoline.
I don't usually have to worry about my language or the type of conversations I have when my nine-year-old son is present. But, after hearing some of his comments lately, I'm beginning to rethink the way I talk about certain subjects.
Several times over the past couple of weeks, my son and I have been traveling alone in our family van. During those outings, he will ultimately talk about cars and gas. He has told me that if I would get him an old car he would, without a doubt, convert the engine in a way that it would run on water.
My first response to his comment was one of pride. How wonderful that my son would be so forward thinking at such an early age as to believe with all of his heart that he could accomplish such a goal.
After I beamed for just a moment, my thoughts turned to sorrow and shame. I know he came up with that idea because I complain about the price of gas.
I've talked about how much it costs for me to commute back and forth to work. I've even talked about how much it actually is costing me to get to the grocery store or the video rental store when I make those trips.
Not too long ago, I thought about those trips only in time. It takes about 10 minutes for me to get to the video store and about 15 minutes to get to a grocery store.
I figure if my van gets 18 miles to the gallon and gas is $4 a gallon, it costs $4 to go to the grocery store and $3.50 to get to the video store.
By the time I pay for the goods at the store I have to add another $4 to the total to find out just how much I've spent on the trip.
I explained to my son that a $5.98 game rental at the video store ends up costing about $10.
He is just really beginning to understand the value of a dollar and has displayed a growing concern over the cost of gasoline and my continuous figuring of the cost of each trip to town.
I'm really upset that my young child is filling his time with figuring out a way to cut down on the gasoline consumption in our family. It's sad, in a way, that he is spending his time thinking up solutions. I will admit, though, that the fact that he's even thinking about finding a solution is something that makes me just a little bit proud.
I'm also a little upset that I've talked about such distressing facts in front of my child. He shouldn't have to hear that his family is stretching every loaf of bread and squeezing the last drops of milk from the jug just so we can afford the gasoline to get back and forth to work. He should be worrying about how well his skateboard handles or what new games are available for his Wii.
I plan to stop talking about distressing situations when I'm with my son. I may have to start talking in code. If you see me with my son, don't ask me about the price of gas, ask me about the price of rice in China.
Lisa Tindell is news editor for The Brewton Standard. She can be reached by email at lisa.tindell@brewtonstandard.com

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