Readers! Here’s a letter that’ll make you smile! — L
Dear Free-Range Kids: Today, thanks in part to you, I am going to have a copy of my house key made for my son.
My son is in second grade. He and his sister go to different schools and I thought it would be easy to do the carpool circuit, but logistics have made it a royal pain for him to sit in the car for an hour every afternoon, so he asked if he could start riding the bus. Wonderful idea, right?
Friday morning I send him to school with a note that he’s to ride the bus home. Friday afternoon I go out to my front porch (I can SEE the bus stop from my front door) to check that he’s on the bus and lo and behold, the bus stops and the door opens but he doesn’t get off. Knowing the bus will pass back by, I go out to the bus stop (50 yards from my house) and wait. The next time around the bus driver stops and apologetically hands me a form which outlines the following school board policy:
“Students 8 years old and younger may be brought back to their school in the afternoon if a parent, guardian or parent/guardian designee is not present at the bus stop to receive them, or if they otherwise appear to have no appropriate supervision. This is in accordance with Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) Guidelines for safety and supervision of children.”
I knew this policy applied to kindergarten and 1st graders, but I was stunned to realize that it actually goes to age 8. Fortunately, if I want to allow my son to get off a school bus without me (at my own risk, of course), I simply have to check the appropriate box and sign the form.
I actually faltered before signing it. The little “What If…” devil sat on my shoulder and whispered scary nothings into my ear. Sadly there’s still a little part of me that knows exactly why that policy is there and agrees with it to a point. If I couldn’t see the bus stop from my house, would I still let him do it? But thanks to Free-Range Kids and all the other inspiring information I’ve read here, I dismissed “What If…?” with a roll of my eyes and reminded myself that I’m raising a bright and perfectly competent child who will be thrilled with and rise to this level responsibility.
This year my work schedule means there may be a day during the week that I’m not home when he gets here. So today I’m going to present him with his very own key to the house. I’m going to let him unlock the door and come on in by himself every day. If I’m not here, he knows to get himself a snack and get started on his homework. He has my phone number and knows to lock the door behind him. I think we’re all going to love it.
Thank you for continuing to ratify my intuition and helping to dispel the ubiquitous litany of disaster. – Amanda from Georgia