Walking to School: Can I Hear A Hallelujah?

by Stacey Gill
Originally Published: 

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?

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