This week heralded another milestone in our parenting life: For the first time ever, we let Becky use public transportation all on her own.
The determining factor was scheduling: When Kimmy has her swimming lessons on Wednesdays, Becky needs to stay in school resource center for over an hour after classes, until Natasha can drive over and pick her up. Instead, a bus stopping a block away from her school can take Becky directly to Eltham High Street – where the swimming center is located – to meet up with her mom and sister, saving both on her waiting time and on a car trip for Natasha.
Furthermore, Becky can also switch to another bus there and ride just a couple more stops to get home. On Mondays and Fridays, with no planned after-school activities, that would allow Natasha to bring Kimmy home right after picking her up and start about feeding first her and then Becky, as opposed to undertaking an hour-long exercise of driving between schools, waiting for Becky to come out, and driving back home. It would save about £5 of gasoline per week, too.
The decision to let Becky do that – she herself is quite keen, given that there are a couple of girls she knows who ride on the same bus daily, – is psychologically mitigated by our everyday observation of even younger children traveling to/from school on their own every day. It may be an uncomfortable proposition for an American parent, but it’s entirely commonplace in Europe. And, after all, I started traveling to a chess club on my own across a big city when I was 8 or 9. Becky is certainly mature enough to handle that.
… and cunning enough to use our acquiescence to her advantage. As soon as we agreed to “pilot” the scheme, she arranged for a meeting at the O2 mall with a friend she had made on the ski holiday, and presented it to us as a done deal that did not even require our participation of driving here there: It’s on a direct bus route from our house.
Man, how the children grow!…