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


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  1. Kathea says

    Good for you! If you haven’t, read Lenora Skenazy’s book “Free Range Kids”. It right on the track and good read. We should let our kids do these things. And before anybody says how dangerous the world is now, it’s actually not. All crime is down from it’s high in the 90’s. (Speaking of US crime, that is.) I fully expect my son to walk, on his own, to the bus stop once he’s in first or second grade.

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    • Misty says

      It’s all about where you live. My parents always escorted me to the bus stop every morning around 615am. It’s a good thing they did, because at the next bus stop up from mine someone tried to abduct one of the other girls that rode my bus. Lucky for her, her father was a deputy and had taught her self defense moves and she was able to get away. I have a feeling they wouldn’t have found her alive if she hadn’t gotten away.

      I have now worked in law enforcment in Florida for the past 17 years. There is absolutely no way my children will be walking to school after seeing the database for how many sexual predators we have in our county.

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  2. says

    Loved it! I agree with not wanting to walk because it seems like such a hassle when you live in the burbs. When I’m at my office in the city I won’t think twice about walking somewhere and will think “Oh, it’s only 7 blocks.” But in the burbs it’s totally different. I can’t even stand walking to my mailbox…and it’s attached to my house!

    Hopefully your son learns how to behave better on his walk to school this year. Then again, he’s a guy. Since when do they ever learn?

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    • Carlie Monett says

      You know the odds of a child being abducted by a stranger are literally one in a million right? Statistically our kids are in greater danger from our own friends and family than they are of being snatched off the street.

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      • Tess Robertson says

        I am one in a million then. & I was a teenager. I man was trying to get me in his car, I was resisting hard and scared half to death. My Grandmother was worried about me walking by myself and when she pulled up he got in his car and took off. This was out in the country in Rural Missouri. We knew our neighbors; but he was not a neighbor. He was apparently wanting to grab somebody where no one knew him . & that can happen anywhere.

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  3. Mary says

    My poor kiddos spend about 45 mins on the bus- each way. :-p I end up driving them (a 15 minute drive), about half the time. (Since I work at home, and have a very flexible schedule, it’s no big deal).

    It’s great when they get older and more independent, isn’t it? And it’s good for the kids, too, to be trusted with these little responsibilities. You go, Mama. :)

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  4. says

    My son became a “latchkey kid” at age 9. He was home for about an hour after school until we got home for work. Zero Issues. He is now 12 and has been taking care of himself when school is out since he was 10. Going to the store for the first time, leaving the boy home, was like a frigg’n vacation!

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