I walked to school nearly every day. I hoofed it to Dunbar Elementary, Dunbar Junior High, and Dunbar High. Almost every day, of every school year. I literally can’t remember a time when I was dropped-off by one of my parents. I’m sure it happened, but it was so rare I can’t recall it.
And Dunbar Elementary was about eight blocks from our house. I’d cross over the railroad tracks, pick up Steve, and we’d walk to Mrs. Miller’s class, or whatever. Never thought a thing about it…
Nowadays that doesn’t happen. Parents believe the moment their kids turn the corner, this guy will be there waiting for them:
Plus, eight blocks? Can modern children walk that far? In the unlikely event the pampered and translucent li’l shits are up for the physical challenge, they’d be loaded with water bottles. Right? I mean, they can’t be expected to walk for fifteen minutes straight, without rehydrating seven or eight times with water collected at the base of the Matterhorn.
And those heavy backpacks! No, they’d need a pack mule, or something similar. And how practical is that? Most public schools, especially at the elementary level, are just not equipped to shelter and feed a team of donkeys and backpack mules during the day.
Yes, it’s easy to mock. Also fun. But I’m just as guilty as anyone. I know, intellectually, that crime rates are no higher — and probably lower — than they were in the 1970s. And I realize kids are almost NEVER abducted by strangers in this country. But it doesn’t matter. Emotions take over. Emotions, fueled in part by Dateline NBC.
When a kid is young they’re innocent and completely trusting in you. And you want to live up to that trust, more than just about anything in this world. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s difficult to know just how powerful that feeling can be. Thus, shit gets out of hand. And I would’ve NEVER allowed my young kids to walk eight blocks to school every day like I did. It would’ve been out of the question.
But I’m not a complete lunatic. There’s a cul-de-sac near us where a lot of young, well-to-do families live. I’d guess there are fifteen houses on each side of the street, and about three more at the end. It’s one straight shot, no turns or hills or anything. The bus deposits the kids at the mouth of this fancy-pants enclave. And every day the parents are bunched there, waiting to collect their children and ferry them 75 or 100 yards to the safety of their living rooms.
That’s a bit much, and I ridicule them whenever the opportunity arises. Those kids can’t walk half a block or whatever? Hell, the parents could watch them through a window, from any house on the street. But it’s simply too risky. A falcon could swoop down and carry one of them off, or the Abington Heights Ripper might pull up in a Mercedes SL65 and start slashin’ throats. So, they pick them up, and drive them back to their houses — a stone’s throw from where they were dropped off.
So, yeah. It’s often taken too far, but I understand it. In fact, if I’m honest… I understand the over-protective helicopter moms more than I understand our anything-goes ’70s parents.
What’s your feelings on this one? Please share them in the comments.
And I’ll see you guys again next time.
Have a great day!
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