Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Paranoia VS the PERVERT

image from HERE
 Have we all noticed that kids NEVER WALK TO SCHOOL ANYMORE? 

This is the part where I get to sound like some tiresome old curmudgeon:  WHEN I WAS A KID I walked to school all the time.  It's true though!  It was a good 15 minute walk at a brisk pace.  It didn't matter if it was raining.  I had a rain coat.  It didn't matter if the windchill factor was RIDICULOUS.  It didn't matter if there were no sidewalks to walk on because they were covered with snow.  It didn't matter if I practically needed snowshoes.  We walked. 

To get to school, my friends and I had to go through this big open field.  Eventually they put a sidewalk through this field, and it became a decent park, but until then, it was just the field.  I can picture heading face-on into freezing cold winter wind, with my little sister, the neighbour's girls and my friend around the corner, who was holding a swatch of my scarf over her face, and tears were streaming down her cheeks because the wind was KILLING HER EYES. 

Remember the BLIZZARD OF '77?  Oh yes, we walked.  My Mom bundled my brother and I up, and off we headed to school.  School, of course, was closed.  When we turned around to trudge back home, miraculously, our neighbour was there to pick us up.  Rare treat.  In Mom's defense, I think the blizzard was just getting underway, and the snow wasn't quite up to our chests yet.

get to school b*tches!  It's the 1970's and your MOM does NOT want you at home!!!  (image from HERE)

EVERYBODY walked to school.  Groups of kids could be found hoofing it to and from school every day--even if they lived far.  I even walked home by myself at the end of my kindergarten day, since the kindergarteners were let out of school 15 minutes earlier than the rest of the kids.  So, five year old karen headed home all by her lonesome.  Then I'd get to my street, and I had to stand across from my house and holler "MOM!  MOOOOOOOOOOM!  MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!" until my mother finally heard me, stuck her head out the front door, looked both ways and said; "okay, you can cross now."  Nevermind that I'd just made the long trek all by myself--I wasn't allowed to cross my own street alone. 

So, I make my kids walk to school.  It's only about a 7 minute walk, but oh how they complain.  They complain bitterly:

"waaa!  Why are we walking?  Why do we have to walk?  We should drive to school!  I HATE exercise!  I don't wanna walk to school!" 


And then it's the same thing after school:

"Mom, did ya BROUGHT THE CAR?  Why didn't you BROUGHT THE CAR Mom?!?  I don't want to walk!  I HATE walking!  Next time, Mom, BROUGHT THE CAR!!!"

Bad grammar aside, the kids see ALL the other kids hop into cars and zoom home in luxurious comfort. 

But seriously--would it kill these kids to walk?  And would it kill their parents to walk?   When we lived in Suburban Hell, we lived a kilometer from the school (1 km =  0.621371 mi. Technical enough for you, eggheads?)  That was pretty far.  And it was slightly uphill the whole way there too. 

Jack was eligible for the bus for kindergarten, because they figured that was too far for a kindergarten aged kid to walk to school.  However, in grade 1, you were on your own.  Apparently it's too far for a 5 year old, but when you're 6 you're fine.  Idiots.  Anyhoo, because the bus basically SUCKED, he'd take it to school in the morning, and I'd toss little Ella in the double stroller and walk to school to pick him up--whenever it was not raining. 

And I noticed something:  I made the other parents nervous.  Without me even saying anything, they'd get shifty and voice excuses to me as to why they always come in the car.  It just made me smile.  Personally though?  When I was the parent with the little children, it was genius to kill as much time as possible OUTSIDE, because being inside all day with little people is like a slow, torturous death at times. 

And yet, I'm still fat...go figure...

Anyhoo, the other day I commented to one of the mom's at school how nobody walks anymore.  Hardly anyone lets their kid play at the playground after school, and I often wonder:  why are they in such a freaking hurry to get home??  To do what?!?  I say, let the kids burn off some energy after being bored nearly to death by that same old crusty, fusty, uninspired CURRICULUM. 

but I digress...

So, when I noticed again how no one walked, I couldn't help but wonder if one of the biggest reasons was PARANOIA OF THE PERVERT.  Thanks to a sensationalistic and often irresponsible media, it's easy to believe that the world is absolutely teeming with perverts.  I snickered at the notion that there are more perverts than ever before, and then I did some fond reminiscing:

When I was in grade 1, and my brother in grade 6, we were walking home from school one winter's day.  A guy was standing in that big open field, a fair distance from us.  He offered my brother 50 cents to watch him (the guy, not my brother) take a leak.  "Um, no thanks," my brother said.  "How about her?"  the guy asked.  Once again, my brother declined.  I, being the bubble head I was, hadn't caught the convo, and kept asking my brother; "what?  What did he say?  What did he want you to do?"  My brother hissed; "NEVERMIND...just keep walking!" 

Ha ha ha, we laughed at that one for years. 

A friend of mine had stories of some guy going around by her elementary school and flashing kids from the other side of the fence. 

When my mother was a kid, some youngish guy was in his car, asking some girls for directions.  When they approached the car, they noticed his dink was hanging out of his pants. 

When The Man was in grade 8, he and some friends were out for the day, and some guy drove up and asked them if they'd help him "move some furniture". 

Hrm....maybe there IS something to this not letting the kids walk to school business. Still, I walk with my kids, even though it totally pisses them off. 

Everybody has an encounter with the pervert story, come to think of it... 

Give me your stories people!

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  1. We walked a mile and a half to school. We also walked through a muddy field too. That's so funny. I was just talking to my Mom about this very subject last week. I asked her if she was nervous leaving us to walk to school in the 70s. She said that she used to think, "Thank God they're gone!" I just laughed. But she and I both agree that we never leave my children, her grandchildren, out of our sights. I drive three to school(5 miles or so) and the oldest one walks to the bus stop to travel about 3 miles to another school. I would love if we leaved within a mile to school. But I would only allow my oldest to walk there without an adult. I'm too scared. Great Post! m.

  2. I have fond memories of walking to school.
    We Karen are VERY guilty of what you are talking about. See my guilty face.
    When i was home on Mat leave I walked Ben to and from school was awesome. Of course, Cohen was in the that I am back to work and Cohen WILL NOT EVER touch a stroller...sigh...Ben gets driven to school (however I heard a rumour that Rich has walked him a few times)
    I guess its a time issue.
    I was remembering, when i was in Gr 2, just like Ben, Beam and I would wlak to and from school all the matter what...just like you said.
    Ben doesnt seem like he could be responsible enough? I can barely trust teh kid to go accross the street to my parents house himself without causing some sort of something...meaning, he will find soemthing on the driveway and get distracted and "forgets" he was on his way somewhere...stuff like that. and Road saftey...he is getting better...but yikes, his judgement...a bit off.
    Am I just beign dumb about this?? Should I just let him do it, walk to school??
    Why dont i?
    Oh the guilt!

  3. When I was in high school [maybe junior high], my friend and I were walking home alongside a park. Parked in the street was a skeevy, overweight, hairy guy who had his pants pulled down and was leaning back in the driver's seat, wanking himself as we walked past.

    She and I looked at him, looked at each other like, "WTF?" and kept walking. I don't think either of us thought to mention it to our parents.

    The girl has always been in a magnet program and takes 2 buses to get there. She'd walk if she could.

  4. oh karen.

    I had to walk to school everyday. I also remember the rare treat when a neighbors, dad drove us neighborhood kids to school. That happened twice.

    In my neighborhood, we had an elementary school at the bottom of a big friggin hill. At mid point of this hill was the older grades elementary school. so kindergarten to grade 3 in the lower school and grade 4 to 7 in the middle hill sister being the bitch she was forbade me to "Walk on her school grounds"

    there was a huge ravine full of trees and brush with trails behind her school. these trails led to our house, but again bitch, forbade me to walk in them. my friend and I decided to walk the trails. we met a streaker. he was naked, and masterbating and peeing on a tree. we approached him. he scared the living shit out of us. we ran down to the school yelling and screaming like banshees. principle called the police. we gave our statement...and all bitch sister could do was yell at me for walking in her shcool grounds.....

  5. Good points, Mark! Isn't it funny that no matter what the weather, we were GOING TO SCHOOL! Did your Mom stay at home too? Sounds like you live way too far from your kids' schools to walk though, so what else can you do?

  6. Hey Steph, first of all, would I let Jack walk to and from school by himself? HELLZ NO! har har! And Ben--what--he's in grade 2?!? Yeah, forget that. Even though I walked home by myself when I was 5, there's no way I'd let my kids walk home alone. I TOTALLY buy into the paranoia. Paranoia is completely contageous. People who have to work and get home so other people have to work have no choice. It sucks, but what can you do?

    While I think it's sad that kids don't walk as much today, I'm also saying this having the luxury of being close to the school. That being said, it's sooooo hard to force my kids away from the computer/tv that if I don't go for those walks, and let them play after school, they would hardly ever choose to get fresh air!!!

  7. Ms. Suniverse, there is something to be said for urban sprawl--not that I know if you live in that kind of setup or not, but when we were in suburban hell, those beehive neighbourhoods would be huge, and too far to walk to anything, be it the grocery store or schools.

    Anyhoo, see? That story from your youth is hilarious, because nobody was particularly traumatized by these events back then, they were just something that happened to everyone, which in itself is just so wrong.

  8. Good story, Melissa! Not that I'm happy you had to live it or anything...What a mean big sister you had :( But still, it makes a point about how she wasn't particularly worried about your welfare eh?

  9. when i was really little i went to an inner city school & rode the bus from the suburbs, so no walking. then i was homeschooled. so i guess i sort of walked to school - down the stairs from my bedroom to the kitchen.
    i've got plenty of pervert stories & none happened while walking to school, so those pervs can get to kids anywhere. i was in kmart once in the toy section at christmas time & i had my sister with me who was only 10 at the time (i'm 11 yrs older) and she was one aisle away from me when a perv came up to her & another little girl & pulled his dick out & started jerking off while looking at them there amongst the barbies & polly pockets.

  10. Whoa Sherilin, that's some story. Honestly, the more stories like this I hear, the more disgusted I'm becoming! These guys all need a MASSIVE BITCH SLAP. What did you do when you discovered this idiot?!?

  11. In the younger grades my sister ;) walked me to and from school... and often Dad would pick me up and drive me home for lunch. I would get to sit in the t.v. room and eat my lunch while watching the Flinstones!

    Totally remember having to walk to school... all... the...time. There were a few times when the weather was RIDICULOUS and Mom would give me and Steph a ride. That was when we were in highschool. And, of course, those were days when the schools were pretty much closed and I'd be one of three in a class. But I was still expected to go.

    I can't recall any pervert story. Steph???? I remember when a pervert crank called me. He kept asking me if I was "sitting down" and if I was ready for him. Icky. Why I didn't just hang up immediately I don't know. I just was frozen on the phone, with a burning face and unsure of what to do. Too polite or something. hahaha

  12. the girls came running to me & chris & after they managed to sputter out what had happened, chris took off like a raging bull to get the guy, but he'd run off by then. we even contacted store security, but he was gone.

  13. OK, I can 100% relate to this post -- I grew up walking to school - rain or shine about 7/10 of a mile. Once they hit middle school, my kids are walkers -- we live 9/10 mile from school. There is a dangerous no sidewalk area that people are always speeding on, which is why I have the kids wait til they are in 5th grade. Not sure why that is the magical grade - LOL. But I am known as THE ONLY MOTHER in the entire development that makes her kids walk. I do pick up my kindergartener -- she is way too little to make that trek, but I walk to get her as often as I can! Crazy...

  14. Nerdo--ha ha ha ha! TOO POLITE--THE ULTIMATE CANADIAN DOWNFALL! Oh well, that's good that you don't have a pervert encounter story. It restores a teaspoon of my faith toward humanity.

  15. Aw, Sherilin, what a shame. I wanted to hear some really good ending, like Chris ripped a limb off or something. Gross is right.

  16. yeah, it's true, right Jessica? Even the other stay at home moms are roaring up in their cars every day, and one mom lives even closer than I do!

  17. Preach it. Preach IT! Walking kids, even whiny, pleading, demanding kids, benefit from the discipline of walking.

    And kudos to the strategy of letting them burn off steam after school with play time.

    Sad that us parents don't get as much of a break anymore, but I think that when my kids look back they will always remember the time I took with them walking to school - sometimes we even have meaningful conversations along the way.

    Surprised you didn't mention the environmental benefits of not driving - sometimes I walk past a gridlock of cars waiting to drop off their kids - maybe they are not even saving any time - and I think of all the gas they are burning and the road-rage they must already be building, before they even move along to work!

    Oh, yes. Smug and superior am I in my

  18. Matt, I'm surprised I didn't mention the environmental thingy too, but that falls into one of my next posts, about things that SUCK.

    Let's face it--cartoons are on all day, video game systems get better and better and the computer has nearly every one needs, entertainment-wise. That's why I crack the whip and force the kids outside.

  19. All these stories of being 'exposed' things were not obviously any safer when we were kids,but, our parents generation had no clue, because of course it was the generation of watching Leave it to Beaver reruns.

    By all these accounts, the pervs have always been there.

    I never let my kids walk to school. Until high school. ha and then I worried too. I am one of the freaks.

  20. Yeah, but I was thinking about this Melissa: yes, the pervs have always been there, but since we had these exposures, we don't actually want our kids to have the same experiences for some kooky reason

  21. i think we don't want our kids to have the same experiences we had, just because it's nasty & also because we're not confident that something worse than an exposed weiner will happen to them. so many things are avoidable with adequate supervision & how do the parents who didn't supervise, & lost a kid, live with themselves afterwards? doesn't seem like a worthwhile risk to let them walk alone when they're little.

  22. I used to walk to school, but it was nothing I was terribly proud of. I lived across the street from the school.

  23. Sherilin, that is exactly it: no gambling with the little people! Besides, it forces me to get some exercise every day myself :)

  24. but MG, that's the lazy child's dream--to be able to make it to school mere moments after rolling out of bed!

  25. I think people are the same as they were then although we have changed the folkways of childhood. When I was a boy my mother turned me out of the house in the morning and I was not expected to come home until the evening. She almost never asked what I was doing or who I might be doing it with. Now things are very different.

  26. things are very different indeed! Sometimes I see kids who I think are too young to be WAY DOWN THE STREET, and think; "doesn't their mother ever want to check on them?!?"

  27. I had to walk to school too. Even thru the blizzard of 77!! I remember in highschool I refused to wear a hat in the winter and my hair melted during first period. I hated the blow dryer...
    I make the boy walk, he is almost 12 and it takes 5 minutes. I am afraid of perverts, but they are everywhere. I just tell the boy not to go anywhere with anyone. An adult should not ask a child for directions or for help with a lost pet, and if I was dying in the hospital, a family member would get you, not a stranger.

  28. Mary, it's the comment about if you were dying in the hospital a family member would get your son, that cracked me up. Yeah, crunchy hair, wind burn--we all had to walk. I find it funny and comforting knowing we weren't the only kids who were forced to walk to school during that blizzard.


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