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“I’ll need your ID, and yours too ma’am” the flak-jacketed guard said peering across me at mom-person.  “Then, I’ll need you to go ahead and loop back around to the offsite parking lot back there.  If everyone will exit the car and head back this way on foot, I’ll meet you ror a briefing once your background checks clear.”

Five year old No. 2 managed to contain his exuberance just until I got the car window back up.  “A Briefing!!!???  Wow!!!”

“Yup, just like on Justice League!” I replied.

“Wow!  We’re getting a briefing!”

I parked, and the gang, six year-old No. 1, the aforementioned 2, and two year-old No. 3, fairly tumbled out of the car eager to get to their briefing.  This adventure began when driving between Las Cruces and Cloudcroft, NM, we’d decided to try to see the Missile Park at White Sands Missile Range on a lark.

We reached the sidewalk adjacent to the guard station, just as the guard was walking up.  We’d passed the background check.  He handed us the piece of paper that made us official.

“You’ll be able to walk to the park along this sidewalk.  Cross at the light.  You may take pictures, but not down-range.” He pointed away from the mountains.  “All pictures must be taken towards the mountains.”  Our briefing was over.  We walked towards the park along the sidewalk, crossed with the light, and then watched the mysterious black Suburban cross the intersection as the light changed.  All in all, it was a textbook first briefing Justice League style!

But of course, it wasn’t our first briefing at all.  I hadn’t realized it till then, but we do briefings several times a day every day.  The kids are on their own to toodle down the street in whatever way they see fit, checking out shop windows, or racing, or watching pigeons, or whatever they may be up to that day.  They just have to stop at two places.  At each intersection, and at the door of wherever we’re headed. 

At the door is when we have our briefings.  Simply put, we go over the rules just like the guard.  Unlike the guard, we do it in Q&A format though.  For Gumps for example,

“What kind of voice do we use?”

2 and 3 hold their fingers up to their mouths in the quiet sign.  1 says, “Inside voice”.

“Where do we keep our hands?”

Everyone puts their hands at their waist.

“Are we allowed to run, jump, or skip?”

“Nooooo,” from the entire gang this time.

“OK, everybody inside.  Have fun!”

We do the same thing at restaurants, and pretty much everywhere else.  If we’d had to name what we were doing prior to our visit to the missile park, I guess we would have called it focusing or centering.  It’s always worked wonders.  Everyone goes inside, and pretty much does the right stuff.  We have fun, they have fun, and they get to do more things than they otherwise would.  When we’re wandering around, and come across a new place they’d like to check out, we just do a quick briefing, and in we go.

I suppose we picked up the habit attending Doing & Viewing Art programs at the DeYoung.  Every time, they’d circle the kids sitting on the floor, and ask the ‘oldtimers’ to go over the rules. Our version is a bit more mobile, and impromptu.  And as it turns out, our briefings are even done superhero/military style!  Who knew?


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