Walking to School

Walking to SchoolEvery morning we ride our bikes with our son to school. Sometimes we skate, or even walk. You probably see us as you drive by and think we’re nuts, or that have too much time on our hands. I see you pass by and wonder why you haven’t figured out our secret!

We’re fortunate enough to live close by our son’s elementary school, one of Brevard’s A+ institutions. Actually we moved to our home specifically because of its proximity to the school: one road, and a straight shot.

Wide sidewalks and crossing guards line the way. (Smart planning or new urbanism, they call it.) And as we ride and enjoy spending family time together, I watch all the cars that pass by. When traffic builds up I watch you all fight for an opening, and I can’t help but wonder why you can’t see it–or why I can. This is quality family time; we carve out an additional 10 to 15 minutes each way, together experiencing a slice of my son’s quickly moving, rapidly changing life. Wow! What an opportunity.

When we started this, we simply thought we were helping our son adjust. We walked him right up to the classroom. Yeah, we’re neurotic parents: overprotective, always concerned about his safety… but we really just want those precious few, extra moments together . I know it won’t be long before he tells us not to. Time goes by quickly.

Walking to SchoolSeeing my son’s world through his eyes is amazing. It brings me back to my childhood, and I am grateful to get the chance to experience a bit of his. When we get rained out and my wife drives just him to school, I lose something. When I have an early meet or can’t seem to wake up due to an all night working binge, I’ve missed a day that I can’t reclaim. I have to grab each chance I can, and am rewarded by it–big time.

As the year winds on, hurricane interruptions and all, we’re still on that sidewalk. I realize we’re getting into shape. Wow, this beats the gym! I’m getting my 20-30 minutes in and don’t even realize it. Most important, I’m teaching by example. My actions show my son how important I think he is, how important his life is to me, every morning. When I drop him off at the door, I get one more hug. A wave to his teacher, the door shuts and I’m off.

The assistant principle nods as I leave. A hello or brief chat with a neighbor and a speedier return home. Even now, I get to share a skate home with my wife and 3 year old, safe in his car; you know, the strollers with two big wheels and one in the front that’s so hard steer–You’ve seen them. I get home and the workday is off to a great start.

Just east of my house is a park. Even if you don’t live as close to it as me, you could load your SUV with the bikes, scooters or skates. You can park your car there and join us. You could ride your son or daughter to school and maybe share in our little secret. Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow.