After a rough start to the morning; kids sleeping in, arguments, declarations of ‘I hate this family’ and things being thrown, the kids were actually ready for school on time and without tears, which seems like a minor miracle when considering the messy headspace we were all in. Normally of a Friday they walk to school with friends. They plan to meet in the park, or if their friends are extra early they are knocking on the door by 8.25am, usually as teeth are being brushed here or shoes are being searched for. This week, miraculously my monsters were ready before their friends were here so they wandered over to the park to wait for for their friends.
I sat and enjoyed the brief reprieve from the noise and madness but had a brief, infrequent ‘concerned parent’ moment. What if their friends decided not to walk to school today? Would my monsters sit in the park for the next half hour, in the cold, waiting? I kicked on a pair of shoes and went to check. What did I find as I walked over the road and through the tunnel to the park? Boy-child at the opposite end of the park, scooting like a mad man (on a scooter with square-ish wheels), skidding on slippery leaves and taking a huge tumble. My reaction? Quick, hide, if no one sees him fall, then he didn’t fall and if he didn’t fall it didn’t hurt. Up he jumped, brushed himself off and went on his way to school, all was apparently well with the world.
Of course, if boy-child was at the opposite end of the park on his scooter, where was girl-child and the friends that they were meeting? They were walking, not scooting, so they couldn’t have covered more distance than he had, where were they? I glimpsed the back of girl-child’s backpack through the trees as she and her friends walked the along the bike path, the other way to school.
The kids know that they are to walk to school together and until now I was sure that they did (actually I know they normally do, I often see them as I go to work or friends see and hear them walking to school). Should I get angry that they didn’t walk together or that they didn’t discuss their changing plans with me before they left? I understand that girl-child wants to walk to school with her friends and that it is not much fun for boy-child keeping company of 4 girls, especially when the way they were walking wasn’t likely to involve the company of any boys. The direction he scooted meant that he would met up with a group of boys in a park in the next block who walk, scoot or ride to school with one of the other mums. I know that both of them are walking to school in a safe manner and are generally responsible and trustworthy for kids. I know that they will get to school safely and on time, I also know that they enjoy walking to school and catching up with friends.
Hmmm, what should I do with this information? Do I make a big deal about them not walking to school together and kick the weekend off to an awesome confrontational start or do I just let it slide? I know that boy-child prefers to walk to school with his friends and girl-child prefers the other way, through the park with the rabbits in it? Do I decide which direction the kids have to walk to school and which way they walk home knowing that one kid will be perpetually pissed off? Do I insist they walk to school one way and home the other or do I take in to consideration who else will be with them and what is on after school? Do I bury my head in the sand and think that if I didn’t have that fleeting ‘concerned parent’ moment I would never have known that they didn’t walk to school together or do I just do what I normally do, what works for us, and let them work it out themselves knowing that they are responsible kids and are great at making decisions?
What would you do? Do you let your kids walk to school and would you let them walk on their own?