Do you let your children walk to school?

20 Aug

Since I have always struggled with allowing Beloved to do activities alone, for fear that something would happen to her, she has never gotten to walk to school alone or with friends for that matter.  Our local elementary school could possibly be considered “in walking distance” if my child was training for a marathon but thankfully, all the schools are several miles away.  This made the walking to school debate easy, not happening.  Come to think of it, I don’t usually see any kids walking to and from schools, only the bus stops.  Perhaps my dreams have been answered and school walking has been banned!

Kids walking back to school with backpacks.
I realize the health benefits and know that for some children, this may be the only exercise they get…doesn’t matter, thinking of our children on the busy streets, lugging their huge backpacks, not paying attention because they have those crazy earphones in, scares me.  They are no longer tuned in to what’s happening around them, so it’s easy to fall victim to cars and sketchy persons.  Since it appears as if most of the kids are only walking to the bus stop anyway, I’ll turn my attention to that subject.

The weather is starting to cool off a bit and we’re ready for those breezy “winter” mornings.  Bonus from the clock gods, we get to set the time back. Yay, we all get an extra hour of sleep but that excitement ushers in a different evil.  It’s dark out now when these kids are trying to get their day started. The high school bus for our neighborhood picks up the half asleep, grumpy teenagers at 6:40am. Yes folks, you read that right; 6:40am.  Shouldn’t we still be in bed at that hour? 

Anyway, the bus stop is just a bit less than one mile from our house and many kids live further away.  That’s quite a walk for most children at the start of their day; I wouldn’t want to do it, particularly in the dark.  Once the kids have trudged their way to the bus stop, they must now wait on the curb of a busy street. This will be hard to believe, but most kids don’t just stand calmly waiting for their bus to arrive.

Boys are always poking someone, dunking something or wrestling friends to the ground.  Add that activity to dark streets and sleepy drivers, it’s a recipe for disaster.  And if your kid happens to be the bright light of their school and bounds out of bed each day eager to go learn science, then she’s the first one sitting at the bus stop ALONE.  Creeper down the street loves working under the cover of darkness.

Every winter, this same worry starts to plague me, this year; I’ve come up with a solution.  I will boost our economy by hiring parents to work at the stops.  Since it doesn’t appear as if they will volunteer on their own, let’s pay them for their time.  I pass several stops on my way to work with children of all ages, and none of them have parents waiting.  I’ve actually seen parents drive their kids to the bus stops, in pajamas, then drop off kid and head home.  In the dark.  Why not stay and make sure nothing happens?  Or at the very least, keep your kid in the car with you until the bus arrives.  What do you need to rush home for?

As a helicopter parent, this risk was more than I could get my mind around so we’ve always driven Beloved to school and of course, this year she’s taking online courses so, traipsing the neighborhood is unnecessary.  I do still worry for those children that don’t have the luxury of our choices though.  I pray for their safety, I pray their parents will wake up and smell the roses coffee diesel fuel and I pray for the drivers passing them on the crowded streets.

Please be vigilant now that school is back in session and if you find yourself with a few extra minutes each morning, I’ll meet you at the bus stop.

Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

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