Dear Columbus Parents,
Ah yes, it’s “Back to School” time here in Parent-land. Or should I say “Getting Them Back to School” time? For many families, getting children to and from school has become the family’s responsibility, not the school’s. It is what it is these days. We look at the issue in this month’s Age Appropriate stories.
For our kids’ grade school, we always lived right on the cusp of a bus-able distance (i.e., about two inches too close to be eligible for busing). So we experienced it all when it came to getting them to school: driving, walking, carpooling with other families, but the favorite way to go was the bike ride to and from school. It started with Dad as the official escort on his bike but the goal was to ride solo.
Mom, being the nervous Nellie killjoy that she is, made them practice on the weekend first. She (I) may have also stalked them in the car a few times to make sure they were doing everything right and arriving safely (oh, like you haven’t done the same).
The convenience factor, of course, is high when your kids can get themselves to and from school on their own, but I think my favorite benefit is the independence this fosters. And I got proof of this benefit — the hard but necessary way — this past spring.
My son was riding his bike back from a sports practice near his school. As he rode toward the local library, he didn’t slow down enough and some poor young woman exiting the library parking lot in her car didn’t stop, and they ran into each other. His bike got the worst of it, but he had his helmet on, bounced well and ended up with only a few bruises. He was transported to the local E.R., a nice police officer tracked me down at home, and I hustled over to retrieve him.
But the proof (and silver lining) here: I learned that 1) he really does wear his helmet, even for short trips; and 2) he handled himself really, really well, even alone and in an emergency. If that doesn’t qualify as independence, I don’t know what does. And, though no parent ever wants to find these things out (you’d really rather just theoretically hope your kids have these skills), I did get proof and for that I am very grateful and proud. Teach them to wear those helmets, Columbus parents, but then have the courage to let them go!