To Mayor Ethan Strimling and Progressive Portland, I say this: “Put your hands in your pockets!”

As a young mother, I belonged to a playgroup. We spent days and months together planning outings. We went to parks and restaurants and each other’s houses for play dates. In addition to my own daughter, I had my day care charge, Tommy, in tow.

For my child’s third birthday, I rented a room at a local restaurant that included a clown. We mothers hunkered down on the sidelines as the party went into high gear with the clown as the purveyor of energy and volume.

Tommy was big for his age, restive and physical. The party that day ignited Tommy’s fire. He could not control his overzealous 3-year-old impulses. So he needed help.

One of the mothers was a teacher. She had a trick for dealing with excitable children. To stop an escalation she would say the child’s name and then ask, “Where are your hands?” Theory: Child stops to looks at hands. Then she would say, “Put your hands in your pockets!” Disaster averted.

The day of the party, Tommy had become shrill and fidgety. At one point, Tommy took a linebacker stance aimed at the clown’s knees. From the sidelines, our teacher yelled, “Tommy! Where are your hands? Put them in your pockets.” The clown’s knees were saved, the party went on without a hitch and Tommy learned a lesson.

In the aftermath of the unfortunate and tragic shooting by a police officer of a gun-wielding young man, it takes continued composure to think and see clearly. The mayor and Progressive Portland got to the clown’s knees with inflammatory responses to the situation. Unfortunately, there was no one around to yell, “Put your hands in your pockets!”

Julia Ridge

Portland