Friday, March 29, 2013

Bugs On A Bike

Growing up, 6th grade was the only year I lived within a short enough distance to ride my bike to school. I lived in Southern California, a much different place than it is now from what I'm told. I walked the mile to and from school by myself in an area now that I'm told "a white girl don't wanna show her face, girl!" I would have ridden my bike but we were poo' folk and the only bike I had access to was a huge men's ten speed that was so big I had to jump off of it in order to stop. I was too short to even straddle it. 

For every other grade, I had to take the bus, sometimes great distances. In Maryland, although distance is exaggerated in youth, I think it was 7-10 miles away, most of that freeway. In junior high in California, I was bussed to an inner-city school for program where they try to assimilate the races. It was about 20 miles away but all my friends were bussed on the same bus so it just a big happy hour for us. Free of adults and responsibilities...I remember those days.

High school again, although it wasn't cool enough to ride the bus, still I lived 7 miles from my school and never had a car so if nobody thought me worthy to pick me up, I was riding the bus. I certainly didn't ride my bike or walk.

My small family now lives about a block from the elementary school. There are lots of crossing guards, sidewalks and safe routes to get to the school. I let Bugs walk home from school every day and she usually finds friends to walk with.  She is in 3rd grade now and today, for the first time has asked me if she can ride her bike to school.  The mother hen in me shrieks. Her route will have to be different than that of walking, giving her more exposure to crazy people and texters. I worry so much that one of my most valued possessions won't return home to me at the end of the day.

Of course I said yes, however. Teaching children independence and responsibility will be stunted if I show her I don't trust and believe in her. She's my responsible child and will listen to instructions and do what I say. I taught her about locking it up, and using her helmet and we went over the route again. I feel this is a new beginning but I'm so glad that we live in a place that I can offer her this little bit of independence and not feel I'm compromising.  I'm sure she'll be fine but it's amazing all the ways that a mother can worry!