Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Can't She Walk to School?

When we lived in Cincinnati my kids walked to school everyday. Of course I walked with them since I had a first grader who was afraid of a hedge apple rolling down the city streets. My oldest daughter is rather timid so I couldn't accept the fact that I knew even at the end of first grade she might not be ready to go it alone. Once my then preschooler started kindergarten, I knew they would have what it takes to walk to school together as a team. She has enough confidence for us all. I knew I would face unbearable judgement from the woman across the street who walked her 6th grader to school everyday, or for that matter, all of the parents that walked their kids to school or drove them hastily to school. I liked the fresh air and better yet, I liked that we got exercise in even the worst rain or cold temperatures.

I had visions. I dreamed of the stories my girls would come home to tell me about as they walked together without my influence or protection. I pictured tattling going something like this, "she crossed the street while the crossing guard was still in her car smoking". Or something to that extent- no, our crossing guard didn't smoke, but she did wish us a "blessed day" up until the last when I told her we were moving. Walking together I thought they would be able to conquer the world problems together as they got older, maybe not the world problems, but the playground issues they were dealing with or what ever it may be.

So when I read the article in the NYtimes entitled: Why Can't She Walk to School? I got so nestalgic for the town we left behind. No we didn't live in the suburbs like the article depicts, we lived in the city proper. Crime, sure there was lots of it, but I really believe everyone has their fears in life. I don't believe my children will be abducted the statistics are too low, they won't be bitten by a bat (really this is a true fear of one of my dear friends) but let me give you the twenty hour quiz if you want to drive my children in a car in the backroads of our new rural home. We all have our fears in life, can't one of them be to let our children find their way to school, get some exercise and see that the world is not out to kidnap or rape them?

But do I need to mention that my kids now take the bus? When they asked if I could drive them, the answer was a quick, "no, it's better for the environment to ride together". I drive everywhere now as one does in the country but I certainly miss the days of walking to school and really seeing what was going on in the neighborhood not to mention saying hello to other families and getting to know the kids on the walking bus. Even living in the rural suburbs of NYC, we aren't outside as much as we were living in the city. We don't have an automatic walk built into our day like we once did. We simply walk to the end of our driveway and the bus picks up every child at his or her driveway. Simple.


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