Walking to School: Can I Hear A Hallelujah?

Come September, my kids are on their own walking to school and back. They’re old enough (I think). I’ve taught them to look both ways before crossing the street (although I’ve never actually seen them put that into practice). And, I can spit and practically hit the school from my front doorstep, so I’m pretty confident they’ll make it.

We gave it a trial run at the end of last year, and it was going fantastic until I was informed by my son’s teacher that Crazy (my son) was behaving like a lunatic on the way to school. So, it was with a heavy heart that I called an end to the experiment.

But this is a whole new year and, hopefully, a whole new crazy.

He is three months older and certainly that many months wiser. He is going to be a second grader, and my daughter a fourth grader. If they can’t walk to school by themselves now, then when? I certainly have no intentions of schlepping my kids back and forth to school all the way up until they can drive themselves. I know plenty of parents do, but I’ve always found that puzzling.

When I moved to my town years ago, I chose it partially because of its pedestrian nature. Unlike the sprawling suburb where I grew up, my town was one where residents could walk everywhere: the park, the schools, the little downtown. Back then my husband and I owned a single car, and with both of us commuting to the city, it was really all we needed.

Now, we’re a two-car, two-kid kind of family, but I plan to give up driving my kids anywhere they can walk just as soon as they can walk it. Up until this year I’ve hustled my kids the couple of blocks to school, waited impatiently for the morning bell and scurried home afterward just to repeat the whole process a short six hours later. I’ve done it exactly 1,440 times. And, I’ve loathed every minute of it. Not because I’m particularly lazy. I like to walk. But because it would save me so much time if I didn’t have to shepherd them. I might be able to squeeze an extra 45 minutes out of my day, maybe more. I also abhor the morning stroll because it creates extra work, and I don’t feel like fixing my hair and make-up just to return home to shower and do it all over again. But I do. I refuse to let people see what I really look like. I at least want the illusion of grace and competence.

My disdain for this twice daily ritual even caused me to consider moving to any other town in my state based purely on their bussing system and the duration of time my children would spend in it. But that reason wasn’t quite enough to convince my husband to move, and I continued to believe I would walk my kids to school for perpetuity.

Then, one day it hit me. Why can’t they walk themselves? I’d completely forgotten kids actually grow up.

This year is the year. It’s time to give it another shot. I’m pretty sure the kids won’t perish crossing the one neighborhood street on their way without a crossing guard. But, it’s a chance I’ll have to take.

Now, when can they be latchkey kids?

Related post: Five Reasons Parenting Was Easier in 1984

About the writer


Stacey Gill is an award-winning journalist, mastermind behind the humor blog, One Funny Motha, and co-author of the parenting humor anthology, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone. Her work has appeared on such sites as The Huffington Post, BlogHer, Mom365, Today’s Mama, The Good Men Project and Mommyish. In 2014 she was named one of the Top 10 Funny Parent Bloggers of the Year by VoiceBoks. Perhaps most importantly, she is the proud founder of the Detached Parenting Movement, a child-rearing model she single-handedly developed without any guidance or advanced degrees in child psychology. Currently, she’s at work on a memoir based on this theory. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Caroline McLaughlin 2 years ago

I walked 2 miles, uphill, in the snow, both ways. Every kid needs that story.

Kudos, mom.

Divorced Kat 2 years ago

I walked to school starting in first grade until eighth grade (then it was the school bus to high school). Those walks were not only exercise and time outdoors, but also very important to my relationships with the kids in my neighborhood. Twenty years later, I’m still friends with one of the girls I used to walk to school with. So I say GOOD FOR YOU for recognizing your kids are capable of walking to school on their own!

Lynne Childress 2 years ago

Blessings on your year, and I hope your kids’ walk to school will be filled with al kinds of awesome adventures You are raising adventurers!

Michelle Harris 2 years ago

My place is literally a block from the closest elementary school. But my son doesn’t go there. He goes to a school he’s been attending for a couple of years now and knows (and loves) the principal, the staff, and the teachers. Plus all of his friends go there so instead of making it easy on me and transfer him, I decided to keep the stability of the same school and drive my son to and from school. Maybe one day we can move closer again but until then, there’s no walking to school for this boy!

Stephanie Harkness Miller 2 years ago

I walked to school 1st grade through 12th grade. My mom walked with me until 3rd grade (only because my younger sister needed my mom with he)r and then I walked on my own. Out of those 12 years, approximately 2160 days, I once had some creeper expose himself to me. I think I was in 10th grade when it happened. We filed the police report, the guys was arrested, and there was never a problem again. It was a random incident. Considering my parents had 3 kid that is 6,480 day. This translates to 99.98 % of the time we walked to school everything was fine. When the incident happened I got out of bed and walked my butt (solo) to school the next day. Should we live close enough for my son to walk to school one day, you can be assured that he will walk to school by himself when I feel his is ready. I will show him that he can be independent, that I trust him, and that he is old enough to be responsible for himself.

Jessica Wegrzynski Barone 2 years ago

We’re a few years away still, but our guy will be walking, for sure

Kelsey 2 years ago

My house is exactly 3 streets away from my daughter’s school, she is only 2 1/2 but i plan in practicing the walk there over the next two years and letting her get to know the neighbor girl will be in second grade when my daughter goes to school in hopes of them walking together.

Helen Sanborn 2 years ago

Never! I have had TWO instances walking as a kid where a creepo approached me. One tried to get me in his van, and wanted to take pictures of me; the other followed me, and when I started running, he chased me till I ran to my sister and her boyfriend and then the guy turned around and left. Yeah, things like this DO happen!

Mandy Renfro 2 years ago

I let my oldest ride his bike last year, he was in second grade, we live exactly .30 miles from the school. lol I was most nervous about him making it through our apartment complex than I was him being on the Main Street to school. But I always took the littlest to pre-k so we made sure big bro made it. Supervised independence? Lol now the little one will be in the same school, but i don’t feel the oldest is mature enough for the responsibility to make sure little bro follows the safety rules for them to get there solo

Kristy Rogers 2 years ago

Why some Mom’s feel the need to judge and put down other mother’s decisions is beyond me. Cut it out.
That said, my boy started walking to school last year in grade 2. He also doesn’t walk on any real streets. We live in town house condos and he walks through our little neighbourhood. I feel safe and comfortable with it. Now let’s be happy everyone is different and make different choices. How boring would it be if everyone was the same.


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