At what age should kids walk to school alone?

For several years, one of my greatest daily pleasures has been walking my kids to grade school. It is a happy routine to walk, talk and say good morning to the neighborhood kids and parents.

During that time I have become acutely aware that virtually no children walk to school by themselves. Almost every child is accompanied by an adult. In fact, those few kids who walk to school alone stand out in sharp contrast and almost seem neglected or abused.

At first I thought this was a big city thing. I grew up in a small town, and everyone I knew walked to grade school by themselves. But after speaking with a lot of adults from places like New York, L.A., Chicago, and Boston, I discovered that they, too, walked or took public transportation to school by themselves. In fact, most of the grade school parents I see on a daily basis also walked to school alone or with friends.

Sometimes, on the way home from school in the morning, I see kids walking alone that I know from my son’s class. I say hello to them by name, and tell them they could still make the bell if I think they are running late. They usually give me a general acknowledgement with a slightly fearful look and hustle on without speaking. Those kids are brave to walk by themselves.

What it must be like to walk alone everyday, amongst a sea of their classmates who are being prodded along – often smothered with hugs and kisses by overly protective parents. I imagine these lone children have parents whose work schedules don’t allow them to walk their kids to school. Or perhaps their parents are just unreliable. I’ve never had the heart to ask any of them why they walk alone. But they do it bravely, and they seem to be fine.

I started thinking that it might be a good thing to get my son a buddy, and have the two of them walk to and from school alone occasionally to bolster their independence and responsibility. I asked one of the neighbors with a boy the same age.

“You know, I was thinking that maybe one day a week, my son and yours could walk to school together – alone – without parents. What do you think?”

The reply is thoughtful and slightly hesitant. “No. I could never forgive myself if something happened.”

I counter, “At what age do you think they could walk together alone?” We are talking about 5 blocks here. No major streets or intersections. I get the same answer from every parent.

“Never.”

Saddest of all is that the parents in this neighborhood are not exactly worried about their kids getting hit by a car, or even stabbed or shot by some gang banger. Sure, it’s a concern. Their real fear is that their child will get kidnapped by some sadistic pedophile – never to be seen again.

And who is to blame them? You only have to look on the L.A. Times crime map to see where all of the sex offenders live in your own neighborhood. Or watch the nightly news with its terrifying stories that parents share along with other gossip every morning after the second bell sends the kids off to class.

So I continue to walk my boys to school, as I work on my own unwarranted fear. When the time is right, I want them to discover their own independence, responsibility and street smarts. The real question is – will I be ready to give up my greatest daily pleasure?

Tell me this. At what age would you let your child walk to school alone or with a buddy?

A few more story titles

Okay, a couple of new (old) stories came up at work recently.

  1. Burning my face with an iron
  2. Mad at the milk bottle
  3. Crashing into cars in Boston
  4. Watching a guy get stabbed in Hollywood
  5. Getting held up in Hollywood
  6. Watching a guy get his head smashed on the curb
  7. Bar fight in Salem New Hampshire
  8. Getting held up in downtown L.A.

Upcoming Story Titles

The “Kick Start My Brain” email really worked well. I started adding posts with a title and short description, but people who are used to reading blogs just found it frustrating that they couldn’t get to the story itself. Well, I haven’t written them yet, but feel free to ask me in person or call. Here is the short list:

  1. Piggi jumps
  2. Bandmates Photo Album
  3. Bandmates “1000” Bet
  4. Bandmate Crabs
  5. Finding Piggi
  6. Cab Driver Hold-Up
  7. Wild Dogs on the Upper West Side
  8. Denny’s Grand-Slam Breakfast
  9. What is that weird looking stick?
  10. Subway Heart Attack
  11. Rats per capita
  12. “Just Checking Asshole”
  13. Smell my glove
  14. B.U. Rapist
  15. Sweet and Tender Hooligans
  16. Moving irrigation pipes
  17. Orthodontist is Satan
  18. Slingshot Passing
  19. Female Shoplifting Mayhem
  20. Lincoln Park Girl
  21. Battling the insane homeless
  22. Self-Surgery
  23. Beaten and arrested for speeding
  24. Crack Addicted CPA
  25. Splashing the missionaries
  26. Killing Cousin Greg
  27. Throwing rocks from cars
  28. Jumping off the Ski Lift
  29. Blackout at Bellagio
  30. Crashing Cars in Boston
  31. Overstuffed chair as a hat
  32. Skateboard Ramp
  33. Landing the big one upside-down
  34. Polish People vs Big U.S. Cars
  35. Roland Jazz-Chorus on the Head
  36. “I’m Not A Whore” New Years Eve
  37. Bor-8 Drop on Lumber Yard Fire
  38. Cat Calling to Long Haired Man
  39. Dielman Sh•t in the Water!
  40. Condyloma Acuminata
  41. Revere Mafia
  42. ITMB – Incredible Two Man Band
  43. Westwood Nose Break
  44. Hollywood Hold-up
  45. Water Balloon Weenie
  46. Subway Altercation
  47. Accidental Stabbing
  48. Piggi Bites
  49. Shoplifting with Cousing Jeff
  50. Meeting Harold Brunette
  51. Getting run off the road by a 18 wheeler
  52. Neighbor stinks by Lars
  53. Burning Face With Iron
  54. Boston Mafia Gigs
  55. Polish Jokes
  56. Sledding Accident
  57. The Teacher’s Strike
  58. Marcie Klein
  59. Information Hershey Highway
  60. Original Dogtown Tony Alva
  61. One Night Stands
  62. Crashing the Van
  63. Drunk driving
  64. Chicago Election
  65. Pig on a rope
  66. Potato Chucka and other Jarhead stories

It is going to take me a long time to write everything down. Thanks for the kick-start! Keep them coming. 😉

Off to a good start

So far I’ve had quite a few memory jolts as a response to my “kick start” letter – about 40 overnight. I am just adding titles and short descriptions at this time. I will later document the stories in some form. Some things I’ve already noticed:

  • Response is great. Really helps to make a list.
  • The more crazy or violent the event, the better I remember it.
  • People who were at the events remember different details that I have forgotten.
  • I still cannot remember all of the names. Only in some cases do I remember specifically who was with me.
  • I will likely have to change some of the names to protect the families of the wicked.
  • Not all stories are for everyone. Not sure how to edit these.
  • Anonymous commenting is frustrating. I can only reply with another comment.

If you missed my first post “Storytelling 101 – A Beginning”, please read it. It describes what this blog is about.
Keep them coming. 😉

Storytelling 101 – A beginning

I set up this weblog as a destination for some of the more entertaining stories from my life. I’ve had many a request over the years to document various events – either written, recorded or videotaped. Any method is easier said than done. It takes time and effort. Storytelling is more fun with listening participants. I haven’t tried writing them before. So this is just a beginning.

My grandfather had many great and vivid stories – most of which were lost when he passed away. I seem to have inherited his gift for storytelling. Oddly, I can barely remember his stories – or stories told to me by other people. I can remember my own stories, though. They are as clear in my head as the day they happened. Some even have slo-mo visuals. Like the time my grandfather slipped while stepping into the fishing boat, and scraped about six inches of flesh off the front of his shin bone – filling the bottom of the craft with blood. He was a tough old guy, so we went fishing anyway.

Too bad these stories can’t be recalled at will. My brain just does not work that way. They pop into my head at the strangest moments, usually triggered by the words flowing out of someone else’s mouth. One moment, I’ll be sitting at lunch with some office mates. Somebody will tell a story, recall the news – anything really. Next thing, I am “yakking away” with barely a pause for questions to be inserted by the listener (who is usually staring in disbelief). I tend to repeat myself. So if you know me, you’ve heard some stories more than once.

It would be really awesome if the actual people involved in these stories could leave comments about their recollections of these events. To verify some of the things that happened, and possibly clarify the story.

I am also hoping that you, my friends and family, will place requests for your favorite stories. Like I said, I need a little prompting to get my brain going. So, if you have a favorite (like the time I stabbed myself in the face with a Buck folding knife), add a comment and place your request now.

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