Monday, October 7, 2013

The Long Walk to School

Lazy Asses - Exhibit A

America, we are a nation of lazy asses.  I know this is no news flash.  If you doubt me, count how many  
drive thrus you encounter on your daily commute, and while these are super handy when you have a car full of short people or a disgruntled infant in tow at the same time you desperately need to deposit a check, I find it difficult to believe that this bounty of drive thrus was brought into being by the needs of mothers nationwide. If the needs of mothers were important in this country we wouldn’t be breastfeeding in toilets…but I digress.  No, we have drive thrus everywhere because we are just freakin’ lazy! And the worst part is we are making the future generations even lazier than we are, if that is even possible.  

This was evidenced last week when The Midget brought home a flyer for “International Walk to School Day.”  Hubba whaaaa?  Yes, it appears there is a special day, once a year when kids are encouraged to do the unthinkable and actually walk to school.  And just to make us feel better about ourselves, we pretend that this is a worldwide issue by tagging it 'International'.  Trust me, it’s not.   I’ve been a lot of places, lived a lot of places and I’ve got friends in a lot of countries and I assure you, we are pretty much alone in this issue.

So according to the flyer, The Midget’s school is organizing a special event for kids that are normally dropped off by parents – not those on the bus because that is too complicated- but for those who normally car pool, they can be dropped at an off camps location where they meet school officials and walk together to school.  Great idea right?   All kids should have the joy of doing what some of did every morning, rain or shine.  All kids should have the luxury of getting to school simply by the power of their own two feet, walking 20 miles in the snow, uphill both ways with nothing but bread sacks to protect their delicate feet.  Yes, having all kids take that long walk to education will teach them the value of the privilege they are given by the US government.  And on that long walk to school, as we sweat from the exertion and cramp from the weight of our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpacks, we will leave no child behind.  As I read the flyer and finally got past the ridiculousness of the concept, I began to think…yes, maybe this is a good idea.  Until I read further.

“Students that have submitted the attached permission slip by October 7, should be dropped off at the Presbyterian Church on 106th street at 7:30am.  We will walk from there to school” 106th street is approximately one and one half blocks from the school.  One and one half blocks?  Yes.  It seems the children of American are only capable of walking one and one half blocks to school to understand the trials of others that must commute on foot every day.  Oh, and that walk will take 35 minutes.  The permission slip also asked for emergency contact numbers, clearly in case someone gets a blister on that massive trek and needs immediate medical attention.  Or worse, in the event that someone trips on a stray acorn and needs an ambulance rather than being carried to the school nurse one and one half blocks away.  In addition to requesting the emergency contact, there is also a segment entitled “Health concerns for my child during the walk.”  This is where a parent is supposed to write:

“I am concerned that my son will collapse from exertion during this lengthy excursion
Please stop at the ¾ block mark to provide hydration and small nourishment (nut and gluten free please).  If he seems too tired to continue, please call me immediately and I will come and drive him the rest of the way to school.  Thank you, Collin’s Mother”

There has been significant hype since the initial flyer was sent home trying to rally troops to participate in this “special opportunity.”  It appears there haven’t been a lot of takers thus far.  I’d like to think that this is because these kids find the concept of walking one and one half blocks to experience the life of a kid who walks to school is a little bit lame.  Even my darling kindergartener – who walks to and from school every day- thought the concept was ridiculous.  However, judging by the physiques of many of the kids I see when I pick-up the Midget each day, I may be projecting.  

Yes, I will admit, some mornings it would be a lot easier to just pull up in front of the school and drop off the Midget rather than bundling up the baby, loading him into the carrier and trekking across the neighborhood to school with a chirping five year old lugging a ginormous backpack, but we don’t.  We need the exercise and the fresh air and we need to lessen our dependence on our car.  More important, I want the concept of traveling on foot to be a normal idea for our children, just like it is for The Turk and me.  So while we are coming up with ridiculous days to celebrate – International Walk to School Day, I’m looking at you- how about we just have – Get Up Off Our Fat Asses Day.  We certainly all need it – especially our kids.  This country can handle no more Honey Boo Boos.

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