Mom Upset that 10 y.o. Will Have to Walk to School

Folks — What age do you think kids can safely start walking to school? I’d say age 7, because that’s the age in a lot of the rest of the world. Which is not to say younger is dangerous — I walked to kindergarten in the suburban Chicago of way-back-when. Must’ve been five. I’m just wondering if we can agree that, even if we squabble about younger ages, by seven kids are certainly ready — yes?

Meantime, I give you this note from Ajax, Canada (actually a town where I filmed my TV show!). – L.

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Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m a big fan of raising independent, self-sufficient kids.  Imagine my surprise when I opened my local paper to find this.

“Boards busing change upsets Ajax mother.  Son will have to walk to school come September.”

The article goes on to say due to a review of the local busing plan, the school board will no longer be busing children if they live within 1.6 kilometres of the school.  A local mom is raising hell that her 10 year old (!!!) might have to walk to and from school.  The funny thing is, the picture that accompanies the article shows the son of the ‘upset mother’ and a friend walking down the street.

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When I was the age of this young boy (17 years ago) my younger brother and I walked.  Everywhere.  To school, from school.  To the local grocery store, to our babysitter’s house after school.  My dad would call the babysitter when he was home from work, and we would (Gasp!) walk home from there, too.  In my entire life, I have never been approached by, or even noticed any strangers.  I knew everyone in the neighbourhood because we were always playing outside.  Maybe if these kids (and parents!) got outside and into their communities, they wouldn’t have to be so afraid of life.  A little walking never hurt anyone.
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I apologize for the angry and sarcastic tone of my email, this sort of thing just makes me so angry!  What kind of kids are we going to raise if they are constantly in fear of everything?
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Keep on fighting the good fight! – Sarah
The Cool Morning Air Condenses a Boy's Breath as He Walks Along a Coal Car on His Way to School in Cumberland, Kentucky, in Harlan County 10/1974
This kid isn’t smoking, it’s just cold out, yet SOMEHOW his parents thought he could handle it.

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92 Responses to Mom Upset that 10 y.o. Will Have to Walk to School

  1. Kayris June 28, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Mine are eight and six. Their school is less than half a mile away, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with them walking yet. Not because of strangers, but because they would have to cross a super busy intersection. An intersection where I was nearly hit more than once because of cars ignoring the walk signal and screeching around corners without stopping. There is a crossing guard outside the school, but not the rest of the way. I should mention we live in a busy city.

    However, we do frequently walk home from school. It’s good exercise the the kids need physical activity after school.

    Ten is definitely old enough to walk though!

  2. ladyfleur June 28, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Kayris,
    I don’t know where you live, but I encourage you to raise hell about the super busy intersection on your kids route to school. Write an email your city council and city department of transportation, organize other parents to do likewise.

    The Safe Routes to School web site has some great resources you can use to explain the value of children walking or biking to school. It’s absurd to prioritize high-speed, high-volume car traffic at the expense of child safety. Especially since fear of street safety on foot or bikes causes even more car traffic!

    http://www.saferoutesinfo.org

    -Janet

  3. Lisa June 28, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Uh, yeah? Isn’t that the way it is in most districts? Here it’s 1 mile for elementary, 2 miles for middle and up. Of course, parents have the option of paying busing fees if they want their kids picked up and they live within the limits.

  4. Emily June 28, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Is this really about safety, or is the mom just lazy? There’s nothing stopping her from escorting her son to school, by foot or by vehicle, if she doesn’t think it’s safe for him to walk alone.

  5. Kayris June 28, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    That’s been tried…multiple times. My city is a mess. This past week, 32 people were shot over 5 days, at least 12 have died so far. The police commissioner says, “Well, things like this happen when the weather gets warmer.” Then the city is spending billions of dollars that it doesn’t have to put in a train that no one wants, which will make traffic worse. The city did manage to change the timing of lights at high risk intersections, to give pedestrians more time to cross, but that seriously took a year and a half to accomplish.

    In the meantime, neither kid has expressed an interest in walking, and my six year old is definitely not ready. While I would be comfortable letting them walk of they wanted to, I’m not going to force them to do something they aren’t ready for. School is on my way to work anyway, so it’s easy to just drop them off on the way.

    I should also mention that the school is near a bar dense area and speeders, who may have been drinking, are a problem. The city doesn’t have enough man power to provide police presence to prevent gang related shootings, so they are not going to devote traffic police to our area.

  6. Kay June 28, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    How about they try no busing anything outside a two mile radius? My kids have been walking to their neighborhood elementary by themselves since kindergarten. My older one will be going to the middle school this fall and we are 1.9 miles away. It’s not that he can’t walk by himself but he would be crossing multiple streets, through downtown, including a busy state route, not to mention the time involved in him getting there, I can’t imagine him making it on time. He might be able to bike in fair weather but when the snows start, biking won’t work. It sucks because I HATE that I would have to drive him back and forth like he’s a baby.

  7. Karen June 28, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    The school where my kids went to elementary school was that you could not walk/bike home by yourself until 4th grade. My biggest fear in letting my kids walk around town independently when they were younger was not potential predators, but traffic. Even in our relatively quiet residential neighborhood, there are drivers who operate their vehicles with no regard whatsoever for pedestrians or cyclists. This is a reality based worry, not hype and fear-mongering. Even so, my kids having been walking or biking to school on their own since sixth grade.

  8. Sarah June 28, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    I clicked on the link and could not find the article, but I did read one about a pregnant homeless woman who is sleeping in the park with her infant son. I hope the woman with the 10 year old “forced to walk” takes note.

  9. belinda June 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    My kindergartner will be walking with his older sisters (9 and 7) when school begins. They will walk about a mile each way, cross a busy street where the crossing guard usually shows up and they will walk home too. The uptight people can stuff it.

  10. anonymous this time June 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    *wringing hands* “But it will expose him to PREDATORS!!” *wringing hands*

    Sorry, that one’s a non-issue. Look at the stats. Your son is going to be just fine, ma’am. Just make sure he wears his toque and mitts on the colder days.

    And traffic? Look, my sense is that “these days” all parents assume that there is a far likelier chance of their kid getting run over by a car than there was “back in the day.” Perhaps if you live where Kayris does, you’re right (and I am not sure if there is any chance she can perhaps find herself a different location, but whatever), but most folks who resist having their kids walk anywhere seem to be throwing this chestnut on the road to stop discussion. “There’s too much traffic. My kid can’t cross the road safely.”

    I heard this one a lot when my son was 7 and wanting to walk to school. He was perfectly capable, would have been when he was three or four, but that’s him. My daughter started walking 2km to school here when she was 7. Still, there were plenty of parents citing “traffic” when they justified their resistance to allowing their kids to cross the street.

    What I noticed was parents who gauge their child’s readiness to cross the road by watching what they do when the parent is standing RIGHT NEXT TO THEM.

    Okay, let’s think about this. If a 6, 7, or 10-year-old is standing next to an adult waiting to cross, they will take their cue from the adult. They won’t be paying particular attention to the potential hazards present because SOMEONE ELSE IS TAKING CARE OF THAT. It’s paradoxical, but your child is actually capable of more WHEN YOU ARE NOT PRESENT.

    So here’s what to do (it’s what our parents did “back in the day”):

    1. Around age 4 or 5, teach the child how to cross the road by encouraging them to stop, look, and listen. Demonstrate the looking left, right, and left again. Teach them to cross at corners or, if it’s a residential street and they’re going to the neighbour across the road, to be especially mindful of how cars will not be looking for them there. YOU DO THIS WITH THE CHILD FOR ABOUT A YEAR.

    2. Around age 5 or 6, give the child a chance to make a crossing “on their own,” meaning that you shadow them from about 8 or 10 feet behind, after reminding them of the protocols. “I’ll be watching to see if you stop, look, and listen at the corner before crossing, Honey, and if I don’t see that it’s safe, I’ll yell ‘STOP’ and you stop, okay?” Adjustments to the child’s technique can be made if needed, and repeat as necessary.

    3. As soon as possible after step 2, send them out UNCHAPERONED to cross a street and come back, maybe to a neighbour’s, or a friend’s house, or to the store. Ask them how it went. Congratulate them on a job well done.

    4. Say, “Well, now it’s time you walked to school, let’s walk that route together a couple of times, and we’ll talk about where you need to pay special attention.” Walk the route twice together, once shadowing, and more times shadowing with coaching if necessary.

    5. As soon as possible after step 4, SEND THEM TO WALK TO SCHOOL ALONE. You won’t be disappointed. They will rise to the occasion, just like millions and millions of school children have for decades before the recent unpleasantness of cataclysmic doubt in children’s abilities.

    It is instruction, and allowing space, that give a child the ability to navigate even difficult road crossings. But we assume our children CAN’T POSSIBLY DO IT because when we stand there with them, they aren’t paying attention. Of course they’re not paying attention, because YOU ARE.

    Kids can cross roads, even “busy” ones. Let’s not keep polishing that chestnut of “safety” and “crazy drivers” too overly much, folks. I know, I know, your neighbourhood is the neighbourhood that is TRULY unsafe. Okay. I’m not there to assess it. I can assess mine, though, and most parents around here keep accompanying or, sadly, driving their kids far longer than necessary.

  11. Katie June 28, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    It would depend on the kid, the area, and the walk. I’ve lived in some neighborhoods where I would have been happy to let my 6-year-old walk that far alone. I’ve lived in others where I would be nervous to walk myself that far alone. I live in an area now with high-speed roads, busy intersections, and limited sidewalks. The community is safe, but I’m hesitant to cross the intersection nearest my house myself, and I’m almost 30.

  12. Warren June 28, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Predators or traffic or the types of buildings near the school…………they are still just excuses.

    Kids do not need crossing guards lining the streets to make it safely to school. They just need a parent to teach them how to navigate safely.

    I have lived in the city, the burbs and now the country. Have raised kids in all three settings. Teach you kids how to handle things, not avoid them.

    As for this story, I know the Ajax area well, as I grew up in Pickering and went to high school in Ajax. Worked in Ajax.
    This mom is just being a whiner.

  13. Jessica June 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    I started walking to pre-school at age 6.

  14. CWH June 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    If you read the article, it says that her son attends a Boys & Girls club afterschool program now that, presumably, he rides the bus to, and she mentions that with the elimination of the busses, he’s being ‘forced’ to attend the regular afterschool program at the school. My guess is that this is her real beef and she’s just playing up the ‘safety’ issue because that’s more likely to get attention.

  15. Renee Anne June 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    When I was 10 years old, I started walking to and from school (a mile and a half away from my house) because a new school was built. Prior to that, I had been bussed 4 miles across town.

    Also at 10 years old, I was riding my bike to a friend’s house…she lived 3 miles away, south of town, and I had to ride on the highway (albeit a not very busy highway)….and this was 23 years ago when there were no helmet laws (or helmets). I was also cooking my own food on the GAS stove, staying home by myself during the summer, and I was told to be home when it got dark or when my mom yelled out the door for dinner.

    So, this mother needs to get over herself. Kids are much more capable than we give them credit for.

  16. Kayris June 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    By different location, you mean moving, the answer is no. If you mean a different place to cross, the answer is no. The school is on the other side of a busy street. The animal hospital where I work is on the same street. We see an average of three dogs per month who have accidentally gotten off leash, or for whatever reason ran into the road, and are hit by cars. The speed limit is 35 but the average driver goes more like 55 or more. Every year, several ADULTS are hit by cars. One happened right outside of my work. A teenager was hit by a taxi and died on the sidewalk, right by our front door. I used to ride by bike to work on this road, until it got too terrifying. I could not judge anyone who was not comfortable letting their child cross this street alone.

    That said, in 1993, a girl I was new friends with in elementary school was murdered as she walked to school. She was 14. She was walking through woods, listening to music. Turns out is he was the third victim of a serial killer who went to jail the following year for the murder of a fourth woman. It’s a scary world we live in, and when you know someone who was the victim of a violent crime, it can be really hard to stay reasonable.

    I live in a city with serious gang violence. I live in a city where a teenager took a shotgun to school and shot a child with Down syndrome. I live in a city where a runner was raped on a path I run on daily. I live in a city where a high school teacher was beaten to a bloody pulp by one of her students. Yet, I still let my kids play outside the house without supervision, I let them (and encourage them) to climb trees, use public bathrooms by themselves, cross smaller side streets alone, and help me in the grocery store by fetching things across the store without me watching them. You can imagine the flack I’ve gotten from other parents for all of these things. Especially the tree climbing! I feel like every parent has their trigger issue, and for many of us, it’s traffic.

  17. Hillary June 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    I agree with age seven. My daughter is seven now and she is the perfect age. She has always been quite shy but now she has the confidence to make decisions like when to cross safely and how to route around, say, a scary barking dog. At six I think she might have turned around and come home if faced with a problem when making the walk, but now she would figure out a way to deal with it, and understands the importance of making it to school on time. Our neighborhood school is four blocks away, the intersections are all four-way stop signs, and she has walked there many times to play on the playground when school is not in session. Unfortunately she attends a magnet school across town (four miles away through downtown, too far to walk) so the point is moot, but if she went to the neighborhood school there is no way I’d drive her..

  18. kaleete June 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    When I read the article, I got the sense that the object of greater concern was loss of transportation to her preferred after-school program.

  19. TC June 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    The tone of this post is disappointing to me. Have we moved on from advocating that people/our society allow us to decide what is best for our children, no matter their age, to insisting that everyone think exactly as we do? I thought this movement was about respecting a parent’s right to decide when their child is OR ISN’T ready for various activities, rather than having the society make that choice for us. And yet, there’s an awful lot of judging going on here.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have a 12-year-old kid with special needs, and he often walks home from school when he doesn’t have something to do that requires me or my husband to pick him up. (He didn’t start walking alone until he was 10 because his older sister was at the school until that time, so he walked with her, but he’s been coming home without a parent once or twice a week since he was six or so.) And there ARE no buses in our area. This parent’s choice would NOT be my choice in any way, shape, or form. I wouldn’t sign her petitions or even give her an attagirl if I lived in her community. But unless she’s advocating for a rule that every child HAS to be on a school bus even if their parents want them to walk…well, then, I have nothing to say to or about her. It’s her choice, even if I’m not especially impressed by it.

  20. Becky June 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    we used to live one minute and 47 seconds drive time from my son’s school (before we moved). the only reason he took the bus is because he wanted to. he thought it was cool. when he was over it (by the end of kindergarten), he walked to and from school. it took him about 10 minutes. (because he took his time.) he was 6 when he started walking. i wasn’t afraid, and neither was he. it’s good exercise for him, and he loved the independent feeling he got. :)

  21. Kimberlie June 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    I went to elementary school in a town where ALL the kids (well Most of them anyway) walked to school or got rides from their parents. we didnt have school busses til we got into the upper grades because the HS and JHS were too far to walk to from town… I walked every day with my best friend… sometimes we’d even walk an alternate route and meet up with another friend. HECK, we even accepted a ride from a ‘stranger’ once in like 3rd grade (was a younger students mom… but she was still a stranger to us… we had seen the girl at school… we knew she was taking her to school and we made a judgement call… GASP) when I was ten we moved out of state and the new town had this bizarre LAW about NO KID being allowed to walk to school at ANY AGE…not even the kids who lived right across the street from the school (a back country road) I remember in like 9th grade one of our Teachers who lived directly across from the school had a son in my grade. He missed the bus one morning and just jogged across the street and up the front lawn of the school… he actually arrived BEFORE his bus did (because the bus had to go around the side street and through the parking lot. Anyway, the vice Principal saw him walking and gave him a 3 day suspension for walking to school (at 14 or 15 years of age..) go figure… having walked to school in elementary grades from first grade to 5th… not being allowed to walk to school when one is within walking distance is just ridiculous to me.

  22. Natalie June 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

    @Kayris-
    Traffic isn’t a trigger issue, it’s a real issue, don’t feel like you have to justify yourself. You know what’s best for your kid.
    I think Anonymous put together a really great “how to” post, but like everything related to child rearing, it’s just a guideline.
    Everyone’s neighborhood is different. There’s no reason to join some race to see whose child is ready to cross streets alone at the youngest age, like whose child reads at a higher level, whose child knows more math, whose child plays more musical instruments.
    What is this? Tiger parenting for street crossing?

  23. Sara June 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    We’re lucky. We live in a nice residential neighborhood and although we’re not close to the school, there are no major intersections that my daughter has to cross to get to the school. We moved here last year and I started back to work as an elementary school teacher. My hours are basically the same as hers (plus the commute). My third grader this year rode her bike to and from school and let herself in and out of the garage (a handy control pad helps so she doesn’t have to work the lock although she does have a key). She does her homework and practices the piano when she gets home and waits for me. On the few occasions that it was horribly raining she called the neighbor who was happy to take her along with her daughter. I’m proud of her ability to take care of herself and to be able to ask for help when she needed it.

    My daughter’s friends parents all told my husband when the girls met up for a party they planned at a local park (without adult help) that they’d all heard of my daughter because she rides her bike to school and their kids all want to ride now also. Hopefully it’s contagious. . . .

  24. Gary June 28, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    omg!!! they will have to WALK!! to SCHOOL!! maybe in groups??!!??

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWaLxFIVX1s

  25. Gary June 28, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    [quote]*wringing hands* “But it will expose him to PREDATORS!!” *wringing hands*[/quote]

    not true, Predator only hunts in jungles or where it is very hot…

  26. Kayris June 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    I know I don’t have to justify myself. And I also know the how-to was not aimed at me. But I guess I agree with TC, who said what I meant, but much more eloquently.

    We all have our issues that we maybe make a bigger deal about then they deserve. For example, my kids wear bike helmets when on bikes (but not scooters). Both my grandmothers died from traumatic head injuries. Anyone who judges me for my helmet stance can stick it. They haven’t experienced my frame of reference.

  27. vjhr June 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Jessica, you went to preschool at six years old?

  28. Warren June 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Now that I am able to read the article, I feel like reaching out and slapping this mom in the back of the head.

    Going by the attatched map on the story, this area of Ajax is around 50 or more years old. This area is a quiet residential area, bordered by Harwood Ave to the west, Bayly St to the north, Pickering Beach Rd to the east and Lake Ontario to the south. Nothing but houses and schools.
    There is no high volume traffic, and the houses have fair sized lots, not crammed together. Economically this is far from low income, as the homes probably average 400 to 700 thousand. With parks and schools it is a kid friendly, family friendly area. Built in the day when kids walked to school.
    I know the area quite well, as my first serious girlfriend lived just off Pickering Beach Rd. And that was 30 years ago.

  29. Ahcuah June 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Interestingly, I too walked to school in a Chicago suburb (Elmhurst) as a young kid. (I don’t remember about kindergarten, but definitely 1st grade.) We had to be careful crossing Spring and Valette (and there were crossing guards), but that was about it. That’s just what everybody did.

  30. Kimberly June 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    I’m in Texas. As far as I know the law is that the state pays for transportation if the student
    1. Lives more than 2 miles from school
    2. Has to walk a long a road w/out a sidewalk with speeds over 35 mph.
    3. Has to cross a road with speeds over 35 mph or more than 2 lanes of traffic. (that might be without a light).

    The district I grew up in would allow students who live across the street to ride the bus. I walked or rode my bike from 1st or 2nd grade. We had a street safety course in PE at the beginning of each year. The majority of it was the rules of the road with a little stranger danger thrown in. They started doing refresher lessons after Christmas Break and in the Spring after a schoolmate was kidnapped. To be honest they focused on the idea of kidnapping for ransom because that was the danger.

    I’m a teacher and our 1st – 5th graders walk out with their grade level to the crossing guard and then can meet up with their siblings/cousins. Our PK (who are bussed from our campus to the EC Campus then back) and K (who attend on campus) are stationed in either the cafeteria or gym – depending on the direction they walk. Either an adult or sibling has to pick them up. I regularly received a message that one of my 2nd graders was to pick up little sister because 5th grade brother had a doctor’s appointment.

  31. CLamb June 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    I looked online to see if Ajax was a particularly dangerous place. Crime statistics aren’t available for Ajax alone. It is served by a police station in neighboring Pickering and statistics are for both towns combined–around 175,000 people. In 2011 there were 603 assaults, 86 sexual assaults 3 “Luring a Child via Computer”, and 8 production/distribution of child pornography. Crime rates have been on a downward trend for more than a decade. It sounds like a pretty safe place to me. See http://www.drps.ca/internet_explorer/public_safety/crime_trends/index.asp.

  32. Joanne June 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    A friend of mine asked me once when I thought he should let his kid walk to school. The distance wasn’t far and had that been the only thing I would’ve said 6 or 7. The biggest issue is that there are no sidewalks where he lives! I’m fascinated by neighborhoods that have no sidewalks. Where are people supposed to walk? How can you build community with no sidewalks? And all of this was in Seattle which is supposed to be super pedestrian and community and public transit and outdoors friendly. Yet the developers decide if they put in sidewalks or not.
    While looking for a house for myself (in Texas) I come across this and honestly those neighborhoods without sidewalks go lower on my desirable neighborhood list.

  33. rae June 28, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    I also live in an urban area with several busy streets in our immediate area. My kids are 6 and 8 and I live on a corner where the speed limit is 30, but cars routinely travel 40 and there is very heavy traffic sometimes. This is by far my biggest obstacle to ‘free ranging’. I allow them to cross the ‘controlled’ intersections of the busiest streets on their own, but not the uncontrolled, this means if they want to go somewhere (normally the corner store or McDonalds) they have to walk a block or two out of their way, as the intersection we live on is uncontrolled. They really don’t seem to mind. I imagine in the next year or so, I will be comfortable with an ‘almost 10 year old” crossing the busier street in the uncontrolled part. So, yeah, I think 7 is a reasonable age for a regular residential area or a crosswalk with lights.

  34. Warren June 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    @CLamb

    Pickering is not responsible for Ajax policing. The entire Municipality of Durham Region, is policed by The Durham Regional Police, with detatchments throughout the area. The Ontario Provincial Police and The RCMP.

    Durham Region is the eastern border for Toronto, where Toronto meets Pickering. Ajax is the next town heading east.

    I grew up in Pickering, with my stomping grounds extending east to Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa. These are very safe communities, and very family/kid friendly.

    As a matter of fact, my parents still live in the home in Pickering, that I grew up in.

  35. Warren June 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    @CLamb

    Yes the closest detatchement is in Pickering, or in Whitby. They are both almost on the borders between the towns to best cover 3 areas with two large detatchements. Saved the region alot of budget funds, and works great.

  36. Maggie June 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    In the town we used to live in, the elementary school was 7 blocks away, and my neighbor used to put her second grader on the bus and then go run on a treadmill in her basement for exercise. I never could figure out why she didn’t walk her kid to school and then continue walking/jogging to finish her workout.

  37. Parallel June 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    I walked to school starting in early elementary school and throughout my school career. In middle school we moved to the other side of town from the school…that year was the only time I ever got warnings for being late, but we still walked!

    I actually have a vivid memory of being around 9 or 10 and crossing the street while walking to school to avoid a large man walking down it. This wasn’t a ‘gift of fear’ situation where I had a bad feeling about this man. A few days before there had been a big news story in our area about a child being abducted…I crossed the street because I felt like I was *supposed* to be afraid of him. I will never forget seeing his shoulders slump…he KNEW why I crossed the street like that and it HURT him on some level.

    The next morning we crossed paths again and this time I didn’t scramble across the street…he nodded hello, I nodded hello, and we both went our way with a big smile. I saw him almost every morning for years after that.

    The news story, btw,, turned out to be made-up. The kid in question got in trouble for coming home late and made up a story about being forced to walk down the railroad tracks to the next town, where his abductor apparently released him without actually doing anything to him. No one questioned this rather obviously fictitious tale either, and until the truth came out we had big sketches of the supposed abductor on every telephone pole.

  38. Earth.W June 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

    I live very close to a primary school(K-6 grades). As in, a few houses away from the school. Parents often start parking along the narrow road 2pm, an hour before school ends. On hot days, they sit there in their cars, windows up and the engine running so the airconditioner can keep them cool. All so their little fragile aren’t forced to walk an incredibly long distance.

    Consider this. One of my neighbours was telling me that a few years ago during a few windless hot days, there was a visible blanket of black silt sitting in the air from these parents just sitting in their cars running their engines. So not only are they harming their own child’s health by not getting them to walk, they are destroying the health of how many people because their too lazy, too paranoid and too brain dead to know any better.

  39. lollipoplover June 28, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    This is happening all across the US. Her story is not unique but her perspective is flawed. SHE is the danger. Well, her driving her kid to school each day that is.

    When we lost our bus service (and we had protesters like this mom) and our kids started commuting to school by bike or foot, we learned quickly that the dangers to our children were not predators but moms/dads/distracted drivers who drove their kid to and from school in a rush- trying to arrive on time for the impossibly short drop off/pick up windows. It was moms like this Ajax mother who felt her kid needed door- to-door service vs. hoofing it like the rest of the kids.

    10 is double digits for age. Kids (most) are quite capable-way more than we give them credit for- including walking a routine commute to school. What a dis to her 10 year old! “I have big concerns- my son is 10.” And he can’t go from point A to point B yet? Yes, you should be concerned!

    We could solve a whole lot of problems- childhood obesity, child/parent health and fitness, traffic congestion, pollution, and babying capable children if more kids took ownership of their commute to school. Best of all, it’s free.

  40. Nicole June 28, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    A neighborhood near where I live actually fought the school board on busing, and won. But the route that the kids would have had to take was actually dangerous- multiple busy urban roads with no pedestrian crossings, no sidewalks on fairly busy streets, etc. They still have to walk to the bus.

    Funny thing was, the school district was already busing the junior high kids, but didn’t want to bus the elementary kids whose new school was directly behind the junior high.

  41. Karli June 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    I’m with CWH… I think she’s using the “safety” issue as a cover for being “forced” to switch after-school care providers. Because if she was really THAT concerned with predator safety, you would think she’d be raising holy hell that they published the Bing MAP of his school/neighborhood area RIGHT ON THE ARTICLE. Now the predators will know where to find him when he walks the long distance to school!!

  42. Janet June 28, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    The big difference between then (our era of walking to school) and now is traffic.

    I haven’t lived in the US for six years, so I can’t comment on any recent changes, but here in Sydney (and much of the rest of suburban Australia), traffic is at saturation point. Since nobody walks anywhere, no one has any concept of what it’s like to be a pedestrian, and therefore there is no attention paid to pedestrians by the majority of drivers.

    My 10yo only started walking to school last year. At 2.6km, it’s a reasonable distance, but there is no bus in the morning, only in the afternoon (that’s a whole other story!). My one qualm about her walking was the pedestrian crossing on a busy road, at which it is common for several cars to fly past before someone finally notices there is someone waiting to cross. I have been nearly hit there several times, as have people I know who also use the crossing regularly.

    Contrast this to my allowing my newly 5yo to walk to school with her 7yo sister because there were no roads to cross, and I trusted them to do the right thing. Big difference.

    FTR, in NSW, K-2 students can get free bus passes to travel to and from school no matter how close they live, 3-6 students must be more than 1.6km from school and it is further again for 7-12 (high school) students. This seems pretty reasonable, given students’ ages.

  43. Jenn June 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    I live close to Ajax, with my children going to school in the same school board as the board cited in this article. We live 1.7 km from the school but, thanks to the boundaries for the school, we are one street with less than ten children who would require bussing, the only children in the school who would require bussing. Thankfully, it was decided long ago, that the families on my street would not receive bussing to the school. I’m glad the school board and transportation services decided that 1.7 isn’t that far for children to walk.

    My children just finished first and third grade (ages 6 and a newly turned 9 year old). This school year we arranged for them to walk home with an eighth grader. It was great practice for them for this coming year when they have to walk solo since the eighth grader will be going to high school. Occasionally, the eighth grader wasn’t available so my third grade son (then 8 years old) would walk home with his little sister and guess what? Nothing happened! They walk along a major highway but use the sidewalk. The only place that I worry about their safety is when they walk past a busy plaza. It’s not easy for drivers coming in or out so people tend to turn quickly and it’s sometimes hard to spot smaller children and children are often oblivious to their surroundings. With practice and guidance this year, I think they will be fine to do the walk every day next year. It’s part of my job as a mom to worry (and part of my own nature) but I don’t allow my worrying to get in the way of them becoming independent beings. My kids walking solo are not the typical practice at their school as there is a higher percentage of SAHM who transport their children (walk or drive).

    However, I teach at a nearby school that is an 8 minute drive away and most children from third grade and up, walk home and it is considered to be a more `dangerous’ neighbourhood where more criminal activity has been reported. It’s a neighbourhood that is comparable to the Southwood PS community.

  44. Christina June 28, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Wow. In rural WV, I walked a 1/4 mile to the bus stop for kindergarten and 1st grade. 2nd grade, I was in RURAL Wyoming and the bus stop was at the end of our mile long drive. A 10 year old kid should be able to handle 1.6 km.

  45. Jenna K. June 28, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    We lost our bus last year because a new road opened up between my neighborhood and the school which put us less than 1.5 miles from the school by the quickest driven route. I was really mad at first because we are just under the 1.5 miles. I wasn’t mad because my kids might have to walk. I was mad because the city and school approved walking route was still the old way, 1.6 miles. The bus could drive through on the new road, but because of road construction and no sidewalks, it wasn’t a safe route to walk. So I got all t he parents in my neighborhood to call the city and petition for sidewalks (and crossing guards at the busy intersection my kids would have to cross) to be put in. I also talked to the principal about petitioning the city, which she did as well. I was told that sidewalks weren’t scheduled to be built until that area was done being built (houses, roads, etc.–it was a road passing through a new neighborhood that was just going in). They told me a couple of years. Two weeks later, sidewalks were put in and a crossing guard hired for the corner. Now there are a lot of kids who walk that 1.4 mile route to and from school every day.

    I think ten is plenty old enough to walk to and from school. But you do have to take into consideration the safety of the route–are there sidewalks? Are there busy roads? Are there busy intersections? I didn’t read the story from the enraged parent, didn’t even notice whether there was a link or not, but that’s why I was upset. I knew my kids could handle walking/riding bikes, but I didn’t want them to do it on a road with big construction vehicles going up and down and no sidewalks. I feel my kids are old enough to understand to stay on the side of the road, at least the ones who were walking last year (10 and 8). However, accidents still happen–they drop something and it bounces into the road and they follow it at first impulse without thinking, etc.

  46. Christina June 28, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Ok, slightly off topic, but related to the whole walking thing – my niece at age 4 wanted a big party for her 5th birthday. But they had just moved to a new neighborhood. So she went around to all of the houses on her block (without her mother’s knowledge), and invited everyone who had a kid to her “party”. Apparently, not only was she incredibly charming (no surprise I say, as her auntie), she told everyone the same date and time. The only people who did not know about her party were her parents ;-). My SIL earned her Mother-Of-The-Century nomination for pretending she knew WHY random children were ringing her doorbell unannounced, ferreting out enough information to realize what was going on, and throwing my brother (her husband) out the back door with a tossed together list of party necessities with firm instructions to return within 30 minutes or never. My niece is now 12, and that is one of her favorite “childhood” memories. That is the kind of magic that is possible when a family goes free-range.

  47. CrazyCatLady June 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    My guess is that the real beef is not being able to go to the afterschool program she wants. Not all that long ago, to attend the Boys and GIrls Club, it was $25 a year. I am willing to bet that the school aftercare program costs at least twice that – weekly.

    If she were in the US, I would say that she could get permission for her son to only ride the bus to the afterschool program. But it sounds like, for some reason, that is not possible with this school (perhaps because they want the money themselves?)

  48. Jenn June 28, 2013 at 11:59 pm #

    CrazyCatLady-I work for the school board this student goes to. The school does not receive any money for the bus service. The school board receives funding from the government for bussing based on the number of students that live outside the walking boundaries (1.6 km radius). If a student uses or does not use the service, the bus still runs regardless and the bus company will receive its payment. All students who attend the school, live directly in the community. Any out of area students, do not get bus funding and it is up to the family to arrange transportation. She can not receive permission for her son to ride the bus. The school board will not make exceptions for one student, as they are then setting a precedent and can’t simply afford to make special arrangements all the time.

    Boys and Girls Clubs fees are pretty much the same cost here for after school program care. I guess the issue for some parents is that they want to have a choice between the two for whatever reasons they have.

  49. bmommyx2 June 29, 2013 at 12:05 am #

    personally, I think it depends on all of the factors involved. When I was 5 yrs old I walked to Pre-school, but it was down the block & no street crossing involved just busy driveways. When I was in First I walked I crossed one not to busy street with a light & lots of kids walked too. I pretty much always walked on & off to school all the way till High School. That said I don’t feel that my six year old is responsible enough to walk places. If he was more confident that he know how to get where he was going I wouldn’t have a problem this is just him. I don’t feel that way about six year olds in general. I am sure there are lots of six year olds that are very capable of walking to school or other places. Unfortunately his school is too far & there are too many steep hills for me to even walk with him. Luckily the middle & High School are close enough to walk when the time comes. The other end of it is that many of the schools where I live in So. Cal give so much homework & send home lots of heavy books that it becomes a burden & difficult to walk.

  50. Stephanie June 29, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    My kids started walking daily on their own to and from school when one was 7, the other 10. They had both been walking sometimes before that, and the younger had a habit of running off on his own to the school even when I was technically walking with them. The street the school is on is really busy at those times, and no crossing guards.

    I’m hoping my kids will accept my challenge this summer to make a map of the neighborhood. I really don’t feel that they’ve explored enough of it so far, although the oldest went nice and far with some other kids last Halloween.

  51. lynnie June 29, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    When I was a child, we lived 3/4 of a mile away from the school. We walked home from school every day and we only got rides to school on the morning when it was dark in the morning in the winter. We live in Alaska and there was the very real danger of accidentally sneaking up on a moose or bear who happened to be in a horrible mood.

    I think it’s rather ridiculous to think that one mile is too far for a child to walk. It takes about 20 minutes to walk if you are walking slowly. With an obesity epidemic plaguing today’s kids, you would think parents would want their children to get as much exercise as possible. My son is 3 years old and we walk together to a stream that is almost a mile from our house. He walks all the way there and I usually end up carrying him about 1/2 way home. If a 3 year old can walk about 1 1/2 miles to throw rocks in a river, a 10 year old can walk a mile to go to school.

  52. Dan June 29, 2013 at 4:31 am #

    I walked when I was 7. 1 mile each way (20 minutes). Would have ridden my bike but we weren’t allowed until 3rd grade.

    No sidewalks, no leash law (then) so there were lots of barking dogs protecting their property. The dogs all knew their property lines which is fascinating.

    Never got hit (nobody did), never got bit.

    We were all taught how walk on the streets. The only kids who ever got bit by dogs were teasing them.

  53. baby-paramedic June 29, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Where I am currently stationed my big burly husband I dont let walk around by himself.
    Why?
    The town of 750 is dysfunctional, with two racial groups, whose favourite activity seems to be bashing one another up, and badly. And my husband is a ‘halfbreed’, so gets targetted by both groups.
    The dysfunction filters down to the children.

    If I hate my husband walking around by himself, Im hardly going to let a child.

  54. hineata June 29, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    @baby-paramedic – wow, that’s tough. Are you up in the Northern Territories? And I love that your husband listens to you, though I’m sure he has come to the same conclusion regards walking himself – not a lot of chop being a double target :-)

    Regarding the bussing thing, I would have thought the kid was quite old enough to walk, all things considered, but if the mum really doesn’t want him to, are there no public buses in this area? My girls take the public bus to school a lot of the time, and that works fine.

  55. Katie June 29, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Two words: grow up.

  56. Yan Seiner June 29, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    We had an irate mother who was incensed that her 17 year old daughter would have to walk 6 blocks (6 blocks!) to the school bus stop because of a routing change.

    Compared to that, this is small potatoes.

    What’s sad is that these people get press coverage and thus are encouraged to complain and whine.

  57. TaraK June 29, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Know your kids, know your neighborhood. My kindergarten daughter had to walk 1/2 a block, a total of four houses, from the her bus drop off to our house. I can’t tell you how many parents I talked to who freaked out and asked if I went down there to meet her bus. Um, no. And on the very first day I missed getting there when the bus did. She figured out which direction to walk and walked home!

  58. Mrs. H June 29, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    The mere fact that she named her son “Jaidyn” tells me all I need to know about this woman’s judgment. Is anyone really surprised that such a creature is irrational on other matters?

  59. CrazyCatLady June 29, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Thanks Jenn for the clarification. I figured there was a reason why a kid couldn’t ride just one way.

    Here in the US, with public schools, it is pretty common in the districts I have lived in, for the schools to allow kids to take a bus JUST to after school care outside the boundaries, even if the kid lives inside the walking boundaries.

  60. James June 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    When I was in first grade, I remember doing a project where everyone who walked to school cut out the shape of a foot, everyone who took the bus to school cut out the shape of a bus, and everyone who got to school in a car cut out the shape of a car. There was a state highway about 3 blocks from the school; everyone who lived on the other side of the highway took the bus, and almost everyone who lived on the same side of the highway as the school walked. There was exactly ONE kid in the class who got a ride to school, and everyone thought it was kind of weird. When I pass by the school now, there are minivans stretched way down the street, it’s kind of crazy.

    I walked to school with the neighborhood kids starting in first grade (in 1989). We had a group of a fifth-grader, a fourth-grader, a third-grader, two first-graders, and a kindergartner. As I recall, at the end of the day, kindergartners had to leave with someone in at least the third grade, and everyone else could be trusted to get home on their own.

  61. lollipoplover June 29, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    “We were all taught how walk on the streets. The only kids who ever got bit by dogs were teasing them.”

    The difference in this new generation of kids who are driven everywhere is that this critical step (how to be a good pedestrian) is never really taught.

    Kids get driven everywhere until they get their driver’s license and then drive themselves everywhere. When they do walk from their cars to the stores, they walk down the center of the lane or text and walk, oblivious to traffic with headphones on. Or they circle the gym parking lot and put their turn signal on blocking traffic just so they get the closest spot.

  62. J.T. Wenting June 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    wasn’t allowed to walk (well bike, was a tad far to walk) to school until I was 12. Not because of traffic, but because of the insane asylum (now they call it “mental institution” and the juvenile prison close to where we lived in the middle of the woods, both of them not known for keeping the best of track of the inmates.

    Of course I was free to roam those same woods at will on weekends and afternoons after school, guess wannabe child molesters do so exclusively to children on their way to or from school :)

  63. Bob Davis June 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    Loved that story about the girl who invited the neighborhood kids to her party, but neglected to tell her mom about it. I can put myself in the shoes of the dad being sent off to get party supplies “stat!!” (as they say on the hospital-based TV shows.) I can imagine him thinking, “Feets, do your stuff” or “Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don’t fail me now”. One off topic comment: The photo of the boy walking by the railroad cars–bad idea. Even if the rail right of way is the shortest route to school, it’s railway property and you shouldn’t be on it. Back about 25 years ago, a high school student in Duarte was walking along the Santa Fe tracks. Little did he know that vandals had released the brakes on two freight cars in Pomona, about 15 miles away. There was enough downhill grade for the cars to go all the way past Duarte to Arcadia, where finally stopped and reversed direction, slowing down enough for a Santa Fe man to board them and secure the hand brake just a few blocks from where the teenager was mowed down. Tracks are for trains; if you don’t work for the railway, you don’t belong there.

  64. Bob Davis June 29, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Additions and corrections: this incident was 35 years ago, and Duarte and the other towns mentioned are in Southern Calif., east of Pasadena.

  65. Warren June 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    @Jenn

    The area in question is probably better for walking to school than most. Alot of the older areas of Ajax, Whitby and Pickering were never designed for high flow of traffic, and with the way the roads are laid out commuters do not use them.

    Went to school at Holy Redeemer in Pickering, then Pickering High in Ajax. So I know the areas well, like yourself.
    For this mom, it is like anything else. A privelage taken away, is treated like a right or entitlement. I hope the board does not give in just to shut her up.

  66. Amy June 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    My kids have been walking to school since they were 7–in L.A.! Granted, we were the ONLY ones walking (or actually, scootering) at that age, but now there is a pack of kids who walk.

  67. Let_Her_Eat_Dirt June 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    It depends on a variety of factors — traffic, walkway conditions (e.g., is there a sidewalk?), size/speed of streets, weather, etc. My oldest starts K in the fall. The school is a half mile a way, and she’ll be walking or biking with me for the foreseeable future. The problem is that there is no sidewalk and there is a dangerous street crossing right below a hill crest. But in general, I think a seven year-old should be able to walk to school without his or her parents freaking out. And that’s the issue here, right? It’s not that the kid will get hurt, it’s that the parents will worry.

    Let Her Eat Dirt
    http://www.lethereatdirt.com
    A dad’s take on raising tough, independent girls

  68. Vanessa June 30, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    Depends on the neighbourhood and the walking route. I walked to elementary school when I was 10, a ten-minute through a residential area with no crossings. When my daughter was 10, to get to her elementary school she would have had to walk three miles along a six-lane boulevard with 50mph traffic and multiple busy intersections, so I drove her. In contrast, her middle school is three blocks away with one relatively calm crossing, and she walks every day.

  69. Lisa June 30, 2013 at 5:51 am #

    My just-turned-11 year old will love this story! She’s been walking to school since she was 8. It’s .8m and crossing two busy streets, but one is protected by a light and the other is right in front of the school with a crossing guard. I walked with her sometimes in 2nd grade, and I drove her halfway many times. One day, at her request, I let her out just *before* the busy intersection, pulled around the corner, and watched in my rear view mirror as she pressed the button, goofed off and missed the light, pressed it again, and waited for the walk light to cross. I never worried about her crossing streets again.
    At 10, I kicked her out of the house one Saturday morning (she was driving me crazy, and thought she could wake up and watch tv all day), and she ended up going jogging. She went 1.4m, walked back, and was incredibly pleased with herself. She goes to the grocery store, pharmacy, out for frozen yogurt, to the library, and to buy birthday presents for her friends when needed. She crosses the busiest street in town because there are crosswalks and walk lights, and it’s just no big deal. 5th graders are fully functional human beings, and don’t need to be treated like toddlers! YES, there are areas, or particular streets/intersections, where it’s not safe to walk… If I wouldn’t be comfortable walking a route, I wouldn’t allow her to walk it.
    I don’t judge people who choose to walk with their kids or drive them to school- I’ve done both myself, and even made a point of doing so every couple of weeks just to be maintain the connection with other parents and the school. I’ll probably drive her to middle school next year; I work on the same street. I think what people are railing about in this article is the mother’s complaining that the school is not providing a bus for her 10 year old. She’s welcome to drive him, but don’t act like the school is doing something wrong by assuming that 10 year olds within a reasonable distance don’t need to be bussed.

  70. baby-paramedic June 30, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    @hineata
    I’m not sure how quickly he would have came to the same conclusion, it probably would have taken a few good whacks. For such a smart man, he really is a bit naive sometimes, and the thought someone may want to hurt him for the colour of his skin had literally never crossed his mind prior to us moving here.

  71. Warren June 30, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Just for the record, if this child has to cross any of the main arteries such as Harwood or Bayly, they are multi-lane roads with 60km/h speed limits. And there are traffic lights, with marked crossings and walk/dont walk signals. The new walk/dont walk signals also now count down the seconds instead of flashing just before they turn to don’t walk.

  72. Amanda Matthews June 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    If the traffic in your area is bad and you aren’t going to move any time soon… isn’t teaching your kids to deal with that traffic the solution? At what age are you going to teach them to walk around in an area that has such traffic?

    Kids are much smarter than panicked dogs that get off leash…

  73. anonymous this time June 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    “Kids are much smarter than panicked dogs that get off leash.”

    Amen, and hallelujah to that, Amanda.

  74. socalledauthor June 30, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    “We were all taught how walk on the streets. The only kids who ever got bit by dogs were teasing them.”

    I’m not so sure this is true anymore. I see many, many dogs that are not under control of their owners. (Personally, I hate those retractable leashes, where the dog runs off while the owner pays no attention.) Many dog owners are reluctant or unwilling to train their dog in the “old style” where the dog was not yanking on the leash or jumping all over anyone who happened by, both of which are much more common now than I remember when I was younger. When I was younger, the dog jumping up was treated as, “OH, I’m so sorry– Dog, get down!” and maybe dragging dog off by the collar. Now it’s responded with “Oh, he likes you! Ha ha ha.”

  75. oncefallendotcom July 1, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    Our Grampa: “When I was your age, sonny, I walked ten miles barefoot in the snow to get to school.”

    Our kids when they become grampas: “When I was your age, sonny, I had to walk all the wear the child tracker 2000 and my mom was hovering over me the whole time.”

  76. Joanne July 1, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    When I was 9ish I was running and horsing around with friends as I walked home from school (which I had done same route every day since kindergarten). A doberman with a litter of puppies in a yard whose fence was partially down came out and bit me in the upper thigh. I had to get six stitches. Apparently the dog owner and his neighbor were in dispute about who was responsible for the fence. (I’d say the one with the dog, but that’s just my view). That was a Friday. The following Monday I headed out on foot just like every other day. We never blamed the dog and the dog wasn’t put down. It was a negligent owner (who paid for my urgent care visit and that’s it).

  77. Havva July 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    A little late but had to comment. Last weekend I had an unexpected moment of feeling quite old. I was visiting my sister and her kids, and the 7 year old neighbor was visiting. We had a big storm roll over with thunder and lightning and the girl wanted to run home and get something, so I took her out on the porch and told her about counting the distance between the flash and the rumble while determining she could make a safe trip there and back. My father gave me a little flack for taking so long to tell her it was safe and let her go. When she got back (her mom had been upset about crossing during a storm) she wanted to talk. I ended up telling her about how in my home town we didn’t have these fast heavy storms, and it didn’t rain so often, but when it did it would rain non-stop some times for a week or two. She looked at me in shock and said. “How did you get to school?” I answered that thunder and lightning storms like we were having were really rare (maybe once a year), so the storms were no big deal, we just walked like usual.

    Still she pressed… “But HOW?” I felt older and older as I explained everything. That we walked regardless of weather. That no one thought of driving us. That no one came with us. That my bus stop was ‘only’ about a half mile from home. That we had umbrellas. That unlike today we all owned a lot of water resistant clothing, and it could be had at any clothing store for cheap. That even so, yes we showed up to the bus and to school dripping wet. Often because we didn’t always like to wear the right clothing. That the schools had tile floors, so we just dripped dry during class, and no one much minded. And, yes, we were pretty soggy in class. That yes there was one day the storm drains had been a bit overwhelmed and I still walked. I just waited for some larger kids who helped me jump, sort of threw me, across the rapidly flowing water. If there was less water I just held hands with a friend or two to cross.

    The look on her face was amazing. And she just kept asking “HOW?” I started getting the urge to say to her “What are you made of? Sugar?” I finally ended the conversation with, a firm and final. “We just did.”

    I guess some things can’t be explained except by experiencing them. I really felt like I was telling an “up hill in the snow both ways” story. But I wasn’t complaining, there was nothing wrong with how I got to school (even the day school was canceled for rain). I am still not sure if I just missed explaining something, or if it really was that far outside of her life experience.

  78. Warren July 2, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Traffic, weather, no other kids to walk with, blah blah blah, these are all nothing more than lame ass excuses.

    We often say that we do not give kids the credit for being able to handle things, and it is true.

    Unfortunately we are going to make it that kids cannot handle things because we do not expose them, teach them or simply just kick their tiny butts out the door and tell them to deal with it.

    Sometimes you just have to say, you’ll be fine, go do it. And kick their butts into gear.

    Lightening strikes? Really? That is just as lame as keeping them in because they will be kidnapped.

  79. Warren July 2, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    On the topic of weather.

    These days all it takes to postpone or cancel a sporting event is dark clouds and the hint of thunder. Beacause lightening can strike miles outside of the storm’s centre.

    The old rule was drop the aluminum bats and switch to wood, an prepare to get wet. If it became an all out storm, directly overhead then the rescheduled. It taught us to adapt and overcome. Some of our more memorable games were played in the rain. I can remember at 12 yrs old, being in a ball tournament in Richmond Hill, where the pitcher was barefoot, because he was standing in a inches deep puddle on the mound.
    Practises went on rain or not. Same rule applies during the rain, if you didn’t show for practice you sat on the bench during the next game. Again, teaches one to adapt, overcome, and that you have made promise to be a member of the team, and you need to live up to that obligation. Values sorely lacking in the generations we now see.

  80. Papilio July 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    “That we walked regardless of weather. That no one thought of driving us. […] That we had umbrellas. That unlike today we all owned a lot of water resistant clothing, and it could be had at any clothing store for cheap. That even so, yes we showed up to the bus and to school dripping wet. Often because we didn’t always like to wear the right clothing. That the schools had tile floors, so we just dripped dry during class, and no one much minded.”

    And ALL this has changed?!!! I’m shocked!
    (And yes, it IS 2013 where I live…)

  81. Havva July 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    @Pailio
    I don’t know if all of this had changed, but the cheep water resistant clothing is much harder to find in my area than it ever was before. (Can I come shopping where you live, I’m looking for toddler size galoshes?)

    Umbrellas, are widely available, but useless for puddle splashing. I still don’t know what it was that was so unimaginable to this girl. She is being driven door-to-door to a private school. So was I at her age. I recall that I stayed very dry when I was in private school. Non-the less I knew that the kids in public school were walking in the rain. I had no question about handling that when I went to public school.

    Those thought were just me shooting in the dark waiting for her to have an, “Oh,” moment. Something along the lines of “Oh, our teachers get really upset about the carpet getting wet, but your floors were more like at the pool, okay.” Or, “Oh, you didn’t have a uniform, you could wear your play cloths to school.” But she just kept staring.

  82. Tom July 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Not only do the kids in my town not walk to school. They also get a ride to the bus stop. Some even get driven to the end of their driveway!

  83. Papilio July 3, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    Driving children from door to door – as if there’s no oxygen in the air! Stay inside a building or vehicle or you’ll DIE!!

    @Havva: re: buying galoshes over here: I wouldn’t recommend it. Where I live galoshes are called regenlaarzen, and even though the cheap ones start at €6,- ($7,80, don’t know what prices you’re used to) for US kid sizes 4 to 15.5, that doesn’t include shipping costs…
    I’ve never been inside a school with carpet on the floor (always linoleum) until university. But there, too, noone freaked out over wet students. Heck, the teachers would arrive wet themselves when it rained :-)

  84. Anna July 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    My son has walked home from school since he was 7. (K and 1st was at the neighboring city so all kids were bused or driven from our city. 2-5th is in our city (small town living). He walks about 1/2 mile. You can see the school from our yard, but he has to walk around the block to get there.

    I drive him to school, because he’s a bit of an anxious kid and does better when I take him to school. (Also there are no kids in this area of the block to walk to school with.) It’s been fine with me, but next year his sister will start that school and they can walk together to school (especially because I will be just recovering from having a baby right before school starts.)

  85. Havva July 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    @Papilio,
    Wow, that is really cheap. Around here they direct you to “sporting goods” stores if you ask for toddler rain boots or rain coats. In places like that rain boots run you about $35, if you can even find them and start at size 5. The rain pants are cheep at $20, and a rain coat will set you back $40-50. So you are looking at nearly $100 for a toddler to go outside in the rain… or you just let them get dripping wet.

    Thankfully for older kids there are some stores that will carry rain boots, occasionally, for as low as $12, though usually $25 is the going rate. And same for rain coats (though some places have more styles available for dog raincoats than toddler rain coats). No rain pants though.

  86. Anna July 3, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Just felt like I should add that I have anxiety (mostly under control now thankfully) and my son does pretty well considering he has anxiety. He worries about things before they happen and we talk about overcoming our worries. If helping him not be late for school and being happy when he leaves me at the drop-off makes him happy, I’m fine with that.

    He knows that if he wants to come home, he has to walk. I’m not picking him up, unless it is unexpectedly pouring rain or some other strong weather element. I think reading this blog has helped a lot with me wanting to help my kids be more independent as they grow.

  87. Natalie July 3, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    @Havva –

    I’ve found some good rain boots at Target, not too expensive. That being said, my girls don’t use them that much so I can’t vouch for durability.

    What fun is splashing in puddles if you you don’t completely soak your shoes through? They traipse through mud, water, snow, get elbow deep in dirt, but refuse to crack eggs when we cook together because that’s messy.

    I don’t get it.

  88. Papilio July 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    @Anna: Keep it up :-) I hope your daughter can convince your son walking to school together isn’t so bad.

    @Havva, what about “waterschoenen”? Just, you know, kind of sandals meant to go into the water with, so you won’t hurt your feet on sharp shells or rocks when you go swimming?
    That’s a lot colder than galoshes, but for the summer it might be a solution? Or are those just as expensive? Or are there no puddles in the summer where you live?

    It’s disturbing that a country can be so rich when it comes to money, yet so poor when it comes to the simple joys of life. Like allowing kids to jump in puddles…
    (Confession: I still like to cycle through puddles. I just speed up the last few meters and then I pull up my feet and wheeee! 😀 )

  89. Natalie July 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    @papillo
    I know plenty of people that let their kids stomp in puddles, etc. And I wouldn’t call these parents free range. I wouldn’t call them helicopter either. They fall in the middle and have tendencies towards either side depending on the topic.
    It’s really not that bad here in America. It varies.

  90. Papilio July 4, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Haha, you could say my view gets skewed by reading this blog: my daily dose of insanity :-)
    On the other hand, that was not entirely what I meant. Havva mentioned a whole lot of very normal childhood things to that little girl and she recognized nothing, and then she complained about not being able to find cheap toddler-size rain gear anymore (or maybe I just thought she meant ‘anymore’). I assume the prices increased beyond normal (if not, why complain?). That sounded to me as a change: enabling toddlers to walk outside in the rain and jump in puddles used to be normal with reasonably priced rain gear widely available to do that, and now it isn’t anymore.
    But again, I don’t have a good overview so I might be talking Quatsch just because I don’t know any better :)

  91. hineata July 7, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    @Tom – Coming late to this, but please tell me you live in the countryside, and those driveways are a couple of miles long – otherwise, what the heck?!

    I do know of farm kids who are driven to meet the school bus because they live two or three miles in from the road…..:-). In the city, we would call driving to the bus stop a form of insanity….

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