Walking to school

As today was “Walk To School Day” at Rae’s elementary, it would have been nice to write a thorough response post to Lenore Skenazy’s WSJ Opinion piece [h/t Balloon Juice] but, sadly, it’s mostly hidden by a paywall.

For our part, we did really well walking to school the first two weeks of school (which has been in session almost a full month at this point). Our neighborhood is just down the street from the elementary and we can trudge our way from doorstep to classroom in under 15 minutes, quicker if I push the little brother (who always asks to tag along) in the stroller.

School starts at 7:50 and it can be a grind to get an entire household awake, fed, clothed and out the door by 7:20 (to allow for travel time and class acclimation) before the morning bell rings.

I think we could let Raelyn walk to school by herself, I suppose, but it’s actually quite nice to do something together. Talk about the day ahead, the plans for after school or even just chit-chat about the weather or the news of the school.

As an aside, I find it incredibly hard to keep up with all the names and faces of the boys and girls in her class, but she tells such intricate stories about their conversations and classroom & playground exploits, that it’s always fun to listen to her just talk to me. Simple pleasures.

I don’t think the school system will allow her to walk home on her own unless there’s a parent present to meet her at home. Same thing goes for the bus. She can’t ride it home because neither of us are there.

I always walked to and from school (in grades 3 – 5, at least), but we lived even closer to the small, rural elementary school in the little hamlet in Michigan where I grew up. My Mom was at home or worked part-time when I was that age, so it was never an issue. Jenn rode her bike in the Tampa area and was a latchkey kid like most children in the 80’s.

Our kids have a much different experience but we really like the community – both our neighborhood/development/subdivision and the school – so we’re trying to do the walking thing more often. Less time in the car, more time together and what seems like a committed group of fellow parents and students doing likewise. It’s nice to see us moving en masse with our coffee cups and our kids. Comforting, even, in a suburban conformity kind of a way.

I don’t really know that I have some grand point in writing all of this, other than my own enjoyment for being able to walk her to school. Do I pine for some bygone time when kids could all walk to school together singing hymns or skipping alongside a puppy? No! Do I laugh at every scene in A Christmas Story that involves the kinds of actual shenanigans, tomfoolery, violence and general mayhem accompanying kids walking to and from school? You betcha!

What does it all mean? It means I’ve rambled on for 500 words (give or take) over an issue where I can’t even read the full content of the story I’m linking. That, my friends, is the definition of a hot topic.

Also: walk your kid to school. You probably did it and they probably need the exercise (and so do you, if pants sizes are to be believed).

Excelsior! Wednesday!

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