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Should Squirrels Have the Right of Way?

Rachel Alexander April 3, 2019

{6 minutes to read}  A friend of mine told me a little story about a woman he knew who had asked him why deer never cross at the places labeled “deer crossing?” It was her understanding that the deer should be abiding by the sign. It hadn’t really occurred to her that deer don’t read English — at least, as far as we know.

Her understanding was a little inverted. Humans had put the sign up to warn other humans that deer tend to cross here; not to instruct the deer. Mother Nature is beyond the reaches of our legislative powers.

What do deer crossings have to do with divorce and why is this article titled, Should Squirrels Have the Right of Way?

I live in the country and whenever I drive, I have to be mindful that there are things other than drivers crossing the road. Being an animal lover, if I hit something, I feel more like a murderer than a poor driver.

Some might say: “Look, you’re in an SUV. The road is humans’ domain. If something crosses the road in front of you, yours is the right of way, not the chipmunks. You’re bigger; you’re stronger; you’re in the car. That’s the vehicle. You have the right of way. We can’t start yielding to small critters all the time. How would we drive? How would we get anywhere?

Perhaps we are higher on some scale of evolution (designed, of course, by us).

And what it turns on is not really whether it should or shouldn’t, it’s about yielding to what is. Should squirrels learn the rules of the road? Should they defer to our obvious superior power rather than stopping mid-road, looking about then racing rabidly in no particular direction? Should the human need to get from point A to B take precedent?

Is the squirrel smarter than me? Is the squirrel a lawyer? Is the squirrel writing a blog? I think not, but who knows. The point is, even if I might have a greater entitlement, I can’t expect the squirrel to yield to me or the deer to cross where we’ve clearly labeled “deer crossing.”

Rather than interacting with life as we believe it should be, we are always better served by interfacing with what actually is.

If my ex-spouse/co-parenting partner should be paying for the school uniforms, but isn’t, I still must find a way to address the critical rule of the parenting roadway. This critical rule is not “he should pay for them” but “the kids need their uniforms.” There are obstacles and people behaving in ways they shouldn’t. All the more reason we need rules of the road that keep our families safe even when squirrels (and ex-spouses) are in the way.

Kids need to have their proper uniforms. They need to get their allowance, or they need to get what is required for them to be like their peers, have social appropriateness, be fed, have their emotional needs met, be supported in their social development, and societal integration. When a parent says, “Yeah I could give my kid $20, but really his father is supposed to.” Or, “I know the kids don’t have milk at home, I should pick it up while I’m dropping them off because their mom didn’t get any.” But instead of just spending the $3.76 for milk, there can be a digging-in mentality: “I’m not buying the milk. She should buy it.

Friend, buy the milk.

Digging into the quicksand of what the other should do increases the adversarial nature of the relationship which is often at the expense of your own well-being, health, and energy — as well as those of your kids. It’s time to do what is in everyone’s best interest, and yield to what is.

So, I’m in no way saying to allow yourself to be bullied, but when there are ways to do what is needed and it costs you very little (apart from stepping off the soapbox of how things should be) — these are the instances in which I encourage you to keep your eye on the road and do what’s necessary. You can make things better for yourself and for your children by simply shelling out the $10 or slowing down for the squirrel, instead of becoming the deputy of the way things should be.

And that’s what I have to say about squirrels, parenting, deer, and divorce.