Hi Folks! Here in my burg, New York City, we are preparing for a possible strike by school bus drivers. That would leave about 150,000 children without their usual transit to school. If this comes to pass, the city has stated it will issue free Metro Cards (our bus/subway tickets) to all students, and also to the parents of kids in grades K-2. What does that say to me?
Our government trusts kids in grade 3 and up to take public transit WITHOUT their parents. By themselves. On their own. Solo. Third graders are ages 8 and 9. So the Mayor and the Board of Education agree that 8-year-olds are perfectly capable of riding the New York City subway, surrounded by strangers, without anyone supervising them.
This blog here was started the weekend after I wrote a column about allowing my 9-year-old — a 4th grader at the time — to do just that. The uproar was deafening. I had put in him grave ‘danger,” people cried, and either I had no idea how scary, traumatizing, and potentially fatal that trip could have proven, or I simply did not care. (I love how some people assume that any parent who trusts her kid in the world must actually not “care” about him.)
Anyway, it seems to me the mayor, of all people, would not want to have thousands of children traumatized — or worse — by the end of tomorrow’s school day. So maybe the mayor knows something the jittery, Free-Range Kids-condemning public does not: We are living in safe times. New York is a safe city. Nothing is ever perfectly safe, of course, but riding public transit, solo, is safe enough for the mayor to endorse for tens of THOUSANDS of children.
That’s something to remember as we worry about ever letting our kids out on their own. They can do it. It just sometimes requires an extraordinary event to make us, and them, try it. — L.
Goodbye, school bus — hello, subway!