Recently, I was reading an article about a woman in (I think) NYC who left her nine year old son in the middle of the city. He was armed with $20, a map, a MetroPass card and a pocket full of quarters and was told to find his way home. Which he did. But the story doesn’t end there. Apparently, there are people (nosy parents mostly) who are comparing this to child neglect and endangerment. It’s a scary, scary world and we need to shelter our kids from it.
Or is it? I say it isn’t so scary. I say that the world, while more crowded, is about the same as when I was a kid. It’s the parents who are different. It’s the parents who hover, control, micromanage, fight kids battles and intervene. And I don’t think they are doing their kids a service at all.
Is it fear? Is it pride? Is it a competition? I don’t know. And I probably never will. But I can say what probably will happen is that some parent is going to find me a bit neglectful…and maybe they already do.
Ella will be in kindergarten next year. Hard to believe but true. We live a mere 8 blocks from school and it’s an easily walkable route. The street is quiet and there is only one intersection to cross and it is not a busy one. I have every intention of having her walk as many days as the weather allows. The school, on the other hand, is big. And full. The class sizes are within limits but the number of classes is staggering. There are nearly 500 children who attend that school which, to me, is more than a little spooky. My one kindergartener among 500 other children, almost all of whom are older, bigger and faster. I worry more about her getting lost *in* school than something happening on the way to school. Maybe that’s wrong and maybe that’s backwards but that’s how I feel.
I have kicked around alternatives. Private school (too spendy). Open enrollment into a smaller building (transportation issues). Homeschooling (might I have mentioned that while I have infinite patience with other’s children I have very little patience with my own?). I could move but that seems drastic considering the state of the economy (mine…not the nation’s).
But then again, should I be worried? She will be ready for the big K. Young but ready. She’s smart and social and respectful. She’s about a minute from being able to read. So why am I concerned? Why is it okay for me to want to protect her from 499 other germ mongers but rank on the mothers who won’t let their kids play in the driveway unsupervised?
My fears aren’t for their physical harm. And maybe that’s wrong. Maybe the world is big and bad and scary and I have my head stuck in the sand. No, my fears are for their spirits and their souls. I don’t want Ella’s energy to be crushed by a bully. I don’t want a random teacher to label her with something dumb like ADD. I don’t want someone to take advantage of Amelia’s loving spirit or make fun of Ella’s affinity for all four legged creatures. That’s what I want to protect and keep whole. I could give a shit if they aren’t wearing their helmets while on their trikes in the driveway. But please, please don’t take away the sparkle in my babies’ eyes.