Part of my prayers every night include hopes for my children to be safe. Safe when I’m not around. Safe to make sound decisions. Safe from harm.
I don’t worry excessively – well, no more than the average mom. I’m aware of the dangers out there and just pray they don’t happen to my kids.
I was coming home from dropping my kids off at school a little earlier than usual. And traffic was backed up. Once over the hill, I spot the culprit.
A school bus.
Stopping every few feet.
I kid you not.
I clocked it.
There were three stops in just a smidge over one tenth of a mile.
Back in my day (and yes, we had color TV and drive-thru McDonald’s) we walked to school.
Blocks. And lots of ’em. In fact, in my elementary school I only remember two school buses for the whole school. The rest of us?
We walked. Alone. Well, with friends, usually. Or siblings. But no mom hovering behind the bushes. At least, I didn’t see any. And I know my mom wasn’t hovering. She usually left for work before we did.
Kindergarten through 5th grade. Used those tiny legs of ours and…..walked!
The frustrating journey down our little two lane road this morning reminded me of a blog post I read recently by Gale at Ten Dollar Thoughts. She sends you to this NYT article here and then reminds you/me of a book I wanted to read that you can find here. Statistics can be your friend. Good sound statistics typically puts my mind at ease. And Gale pointed out that according to the NYT article you’d have to leave your child on a street corner for 750,000 hours to even prompt a kidnapping. And with my kid? He wouldn’t go without kicking and screaming, causing such a ruckus the kidnapper probably let go and need a Valium to settle down. I know. We’ve practiced.
Why in the world couldn’t middle-school-age students walk a few feet to meet in the middle? These were not tiny, helpless 5-year-olds boarding the bus. These were able-bodied teens.
We talk about our children’s health. We talk about our children’s safety. We worry. We plan. We strategize. And then we notice overweight kids. And socially stunted children. Anxiety ridden children taking prescription meds.
And we don’t point the finger back at ourselves and say, “Gee. Maybe I should concentrate on raising a more independent child. Maybe I should kick junior off the couch and send him outside to play. Maybe I should take her to the park more often so she can play with children other than her siblings.”
Now, I suppose you’re wondering, Jane, why is it you were driving your kids to school?
Well, I’ll tell you.
We choose a school that is located 15 miles away and doesn’t have bus service. And now I can just hear my friend laughing because when we moved here I told her we searched and searched for a home in a great school district, where our kids can go to school with kids from the same neighborhood. Our boys were 3 and 4 when we moved here and after our older daughter’s public school experience we researched a bit deeper and found a school more suited to our children’s needs and frankly, our values.
It’s a school that encourages independence. Compassion for others. Good health and nutrition. Organic living. Environmental awareness. Respect for other cultures. Embracing our individual, unique differences. A Montessori school.
I wish I lived within walking distance of our child’s school. I wish all the kids in the neighborhood walked together. But in our subdivision alone, I can think of eight different elementary schools used by the families that live here. And those are just the ones off the top of my head.
We are not a culture that values the neighborhood school. We have strayed so far off course in an effort to please everyone. To keep our kids safe. To offer a better education.
And 15 years down the road, I wonder how that decision will bite us in the butt?