The freedom that comes with your children wanting to walk home from school by themselves is rather liberating. There’s an extra 30 minutes in my day that I do not have to spend in and out of the car. I don’t have to stop what I’m doing, run around like mad looking for Chloe’s shoes and making sure doors are locked and everything’s turned off. I don’t have to grab my purse and phone and keys and run through all sorts of inclement weather conditions to make it up our muddy driveway and throw Chloe in to the car. It’s fabulous.
The responsibility that has now been given to my two middle children is great. In fact, it’s huge. We practised the walk home a couple of times together before I took a big breath and agreed to their wish of walking home together. I reiterated the importance of walking briskly towards the main road, so as to make it there whilst the crossing lady was still on duty. I repeated myself more times than I care to remember, the importance of sticking together and crossing at official crossing points. And I gave Chelsea the all important role of Key Holder. She was so very proud that I had enough trust in her to hand her a key to the house.
Now it seems I must have failed in a couple of areas whilst preparing them both for not only walking home by themselves, but also arriving home to an empty house on occasion, when I have not yet returned home from work. I DID tell them they had to call me as soon as they walked in the door, so I know they’re safely home. I DID tell them they are to lock the door behind them, and do not answer it for ANYONE. Apparently, I did not make it clear that they weren’t to take any detours on their way home. And apparently, asking Chelsea if she has her house key as we are leaving in the morning, and her answering “yes”, does not necessarily mean she has it…..as demonstrated this afternoon.
Last week, I was patiently waiting for my 4pm phone call from the kids. I had just been telling a work mate about how well they were doing at their new school, and how they had been so very responsible. 4.05 came and went, so I called home. No answer. 4.15 came and went, so I called home. By the time they finally answered the phone at 4.25 I was less than amused and had quite frankly started having a little panic in the pit of my stomach.
Me: Cadyn, where have you guys been?
Cadyn: Ummmmm, I got kept back in class.
Me: For half an hour??
Cadyn: Ummmmmm, yeh.
I had a quick word with him about how worried I was and left it at that, for the time being. I spoke with Andrew whilst we were both driving home from work and we both agreed someone was telling a porky pie…..
After dinner, we sat them both down and Andrew began his version of the Spanish inquisition. He basically asked why on earth they took almost one hour to get home?
Cadyn: Ummmm, I got kept back in class and blah blah blah blah blah….
Andrew and I spot the strange look on Chelsea’s face, and at this point, Andrew holds his hand up to Cadyn, swiftly turns to Chelsea and asks “What happened Chelsea?”
Chelsea: We stopped at the park on the way home for a play……
The silence was then swiftly followed by many examples of what could happen to them whilst taking an unscheduled detour, without anyone knowing. Nothing like a bit of scare tactics to make sure they get the point? Takes stranger danger to a whole new level!
SO what did we learn from this exercise? Well, I learnt that my kids are still quite naive. Which is both a good and bad thing. We never like to believe that our kids are growing up, but just when you accept they are, they do something that makes you realise they are still just babies. I also learnt that they have not memorised any important phone numbers! Whilst I was worried about some evil pervert snatching them from the park, Andrew pointed out that if either of them hurt themselves, and a good samaritan wanted to help – how could they if nobody knew our contact numbers?
Next step? Writing our contact numbers in big black texta on the inside of their school bags! Or alternatively, a trip to the tattooist……
How old were you when you were given such freedom and responsibility? Do
your kids you have tattoos?