When my eldest started school, I couldn’t stop thinking about this quote:
“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive” Robert Lewis Stevenson
I swiftly came to the conclusion than Mr Stevenson had never had to drag three small boys from bed, to porridge, to washed and dressed by 0820 am every school day, hoping to get them to class on time.
A few years on, my feelings on the school run could not be more different.
Once the trauma of finding shoes, water bottles and housekeys has passed, those twenty minutes walking to school become an oasis of fresh air, talk time and discovery (did you know, sometimes my neighbour’s wall has over 100 snails on it?).
It gives me that smug glow of doing at least one thing right that day – I got us all out to stretch our legs, improved our health, protected the planet.
Despite the lost shoes, water bottles, and housekeys walking tends to look easier than trying to find a parking space somewhere in the vicinity of the school gates.
I’ve also noticed that while the speed and frequency of cars that zoom past us give me the fear, my kids have a good awareness of the dangers of the road. It feels they are safer learning about those dangers daily, under our watchful gaze, than shielding them from crossing roads and the perils of the edge of the curb until they no longer want to hold our hands.
Beyond the bubble of our little family, walking to school gives me a chance to connect not only with the kids but also with our neighbourhood. Where once I felt like a passive observer to all that happened on our street, I now feel a sense of belonging in the community on our doorstep.
Since walking a bit more, I’ve come a tiny step along the road of understanding where I live and the role I can play here. So much so, if the boys ever ask me how they can make the place that they live in a little bit better, I will at least have one idea under my belt. I will say
I suspect that, in response, they may roll their eyes and laugh at me for giving such a boring and unhelpful answer. But if they can walk, and observe, and be part of where they live, rather than be on the periphery, catching fleeting glances of it through car windows, we can be hopeful that they will help create communities worth arriving at in the future.