It’s with much joy, and a little sadness, that our oldest son has started Kindergarten this year. It’s exciting because, well, seeing our little dude grow up is fun to watch. And having someone else watch him for 6 hours a day, on the taxpayer’s dime no less (thanks, everybody!), offers a temporary reprieve from the trials and tribulations of having three young boys running around the home yelling, fighting, and wrestling with each other. It’s also sad, though, because this will also be the first time in his young life that he will be away from us for SIX WHOLE HOURS, FIVE DAYS A WEEK with pretty much no involvement from us. It’s slowly but surely showing us the importance of asking that simplest of questions “so, how was your day?” and actually being able to pry some sort of answer out of him. The struggle is real.
But lucky for me, I have a job that allows me to, generally speaking, work close to home and offers me the flexibility to be involved with my kid’s lives that many other parents would no doubt kill for. I’m very thankful for that because it’s allowed me the ability to do things such as be a duty parent at my kids’ preschool (without needing to book time off) as well as to walk them to, or pick them up from, school even though I’m not the primary caregiver and technically have to work “full time”. Say what you want about my employer but they’ve been pretty good to me.
With all that being said, there are a couple immediate impressions that I have from the chances I’ve had to walk my son to and from school that I thought were worth discussing.
So, here we go…
1.) Why in god’s name do we not have car free zones around schools? I know this one will get me a lot of flack and I have no doubt that an immediate rebuttal to this comment will be “we aren’t all fortunate enough to be able to walk our kids to school and so we have to drive them there so why do you hate cars and me and my children?!”. And, I get that. I really do. And trust me, it’s nothing personal. I’m not in anyway trying to be judgemental here and am well aware we all have different circumstances to deal with it. I consider me and my familiar very luck to be able to live in such proximity to the school that we can in fact walk our boys there. This didn’t happen by chance. We made very real conscious decisions and sacrifices to find a home that allowed for this to happen. And if it weren’t for the existence of ground oriented, family friendly, relatively affordable, multiple dwelling housing stock being available close to the school it wouldn’t have been possible for us either (more on this in a future post, by the way). So, I don’t want people to think this is me being vs you having to drive your kids to school, because it’s not. What this point is really about is making it safer for *all* of our kids to be safe going to, and being at or around, school. Not just mine. Because despite as hard as some parents might try, there’s no one I know that is able to drive their kid to school and throw them straight into the classroom door. *All* kids finish their journey to school as a pedestrian whether they walk, bike, or drive there so why wouldn’t we want to make the place where we send them safe as possible to walk and exist?
2.) The sidewalks that surround our schools are ridiculously narrow. For a place that sees a large number of people, both big and small, young and old, congregate in one place it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me that we don’t put a bigger priority in making our sidewalks around schools more spacious. As mentioned before, everyone ends up as a pedestrian at the end of their journey to school yet we allocate large amounts of space to car drop off and travel and very little to the movement of people on foot. The result? Kids and adults rushing around the school end up being pushed either onto the grass (hopefully, not into a hidden pile of dog poop) or onto the road (hopefully, not in front of a moving car) where drivers are fighting for their own space. This is something that some might consider a small design detail in the greater scheme of things but it’s one that makes a massive difference in how our schools function before and after class. It’s also an issue that could possibly be alleviated by trying to implement observation number 1.
As a wise woman once said: