For a little while on Fourth of July, I was not childless

On Fourth of July, I was walking the dog down a nearby street when this boy came out just past where someone had chalked “party” on the pavement with an arrow. There was no party now, just this kid about 10 years old with nothing to do. I had seen him before, remembered an awkward conversation about his missing model plane. He’s a loner, geeky with thick black glasses, possibly autistic. He has two sisters who are busy with their own lives, but I’m pretty sure he’s the only boy on the block.

Without asking, he joined us for our walk down the paved street on our way to the wilderness trail beyond. His speech was slow, coming in spurts, worked around his crooked front teeth. “Going for a walk, huh?”


He dodged nervously as Annie darted over to sniff him. “She’s big.”

“She is. But she won’t hurt you.”

“Is she gonna have puppies?”

I stared at him. What? “No. She’s been spayed. She had an operation. And she’s too old now anyway.” Suddenly the whole idea of taking away a dog’s ability to reproduce seemed ludicrous. Why would we do that? But he didn’t ask. He just said, “Oh.”

Annie paused to sniff a grass area where all the neighborhood dogs stopped to relieve themselves. The boy paused, too, then went on with us. It was nice having him along. I had been feeling especially lonely, this being another holiday I was spending by myself, my family too far away and my friends too busy with their kids and grandkids.

“Is it just you and her?” the boy asked.

I swallowed. How did he know? “Yes.”

“Oh.” No judgments. No “where is your husband?” or “why don’t you have kids?” He’s alone, I’m alone, just fact. He reached out shyly to pet Annie’s thick yellow fur.

“What’s your name?” I asked.


“Nice name.”

We walked on, Annie stopping between houses to pee.

“I know where there’s a trail.”

“Oh. I do, too.”

“I’ll run up ahead and show you.” He took off, streaking toward the end of the street to where the wild berries and Scotch broom have grown so thick you have to look hard to find the path.

“Is this your trail?”

“Yes. That’s it.”

He hesitated. “I’m not allowed to go past the end of the street.”

And with that we said goodbye. I heard Gavin’s shoes slapping the pavement as he ran home while Annie and I went on along the trail marked with the footprints of deer, dogs and tennis shoes, feeling much less lonely.

My dear childless friends, there are children who would love to hang out with you if you let them. Don’t give up.


The transfer of this blog to my new WordPress site is coming along. If you’re reading this at, you might notice that all of the old posts back to 2007 are here now, along with the comments. The formatting is a little funky. I’ll have to work on that, but this new site is going to be great. Remember, I will be posting on both old and new during July and early August, but as of Aug. 26, new comments will only be posted on the new site, so subscribe or click “follow” so you don’t miss a single post or comment. For those who have already signed up, thank you. Every one of you is precious to me.

5 thoughts on “For a little while on Fourth of July, I was not childless

  1. That’s sweet, Sue. I could imagine Gavin walking alongside you, and both of you in total peace, just enjoying the day and the company. Isn’t it cool how animals tend to bring people together? It’s so special and warms my heart even more that Gavin wouldn’t go down the path because he was told not to. A young man that understands obedience.

    I read your story on the other blog post. Technically I’m not childless by marriage, more like a weird mixture of infertility and doctors that gave up on me way too soon and I believed them at their word. Still, I’ve followed your blog for a long time now. I hope it’s ok that I tag along even though technically I’m not childless by marriage.


  2. I have often thought of becoming involved with the Big Sisters organization. However, when my thoughts deepen, I end up reminding myself that this would just be like having another stepchild. You devote time, energy and love to the relationship, but a resentful ex-wife is still in control and can take it away from you at any time. And then my thoughts end on pursuing it. I’m just tired of there always being someone else who is the parent and making the decisions and I have no say-so in anything at any time.

    Today I bought a baby shower gift for yet another women getting what I want. I was doing okay until I was driving home and envisioned her walking through the store picking out all of the items on her registry, and then I started to cry. Fortunately, my company called me out of town the day before the shower. I hate showers and never go, but was having a hard time coming up with an excuse for this one. Thank goodness I got called away!!!!!!!


    • Candy, I know what you mean. Nothing is the same as having your own child. As for baby showers, I hate them, too, but now I’m old enough that I hardly ever get invited to any showers. So hang in there.


      • I’m at that age too, so it’s my friends’ children who are all having babies now. I barely survived the first wave. Now I’m onto the second wave of showers.


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