From the start of first grade until the end of eighth grade I walked to school. It wasn’t uphill and I wasn’t barefoot (my feet are delicate) but it was nice. Crossing guards helped me negotiate intersections and I would run into friends along the way. It was a good time.
My own children are in school now and they are dropped off and picked up instead of walking. One factor in this is that my town, like other communities on Massachusetts’ South Shore hasn’t embraced sidewalks. Once you get away from downtown there’s the road and nothing else.
The Oppressed had early dismissal one glorious day and I thought it would be a great idea if I met her at school and we walked home together. As long as she stays with me and stays on the inside, we will be fine. She will be safe and we will get a little time to talk about school and how everything has been.
I left The Boy with a neighbor. I didn’t think he could make the trek. I walked to school and waited for the bell to ring. The Oppressed saw me and we started to walk through the schoolyard.
“Where did you park?” she asked me.
“I didn’t. I walked.”
“We’re going to walk. It’s nice out and I want to get some exercise.”
The Oppressed started to look around. “Can I see if I can get a ride? I can’t walk that far.”
“You’ll be fine,” I assured her.
That wasn’t good enough. She pulled away from me and looked around to see if there was anyone around who would rescue her from her cruel fate. This included shouting out at vehicles that drove by. She said she was being kidnapped. Her father didn’t love her and her life was so hard. Every other kid had parents that loved her. Why didn’t she?
We continued onward. The Oppressed continued to look for someone that would take pity on her condition. A police cruiser drove by, prompting another cry of, “Child Abuse!” The cruiser didn’t even slow down.
She wasn’t having it. No one was hearing her. She stopped and informed me she would not go any further and demanded a taxi or a piggy-back. She wasn’t getting either. She was furious and started jumping down.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“You’re making me walk and I have a broken leg!” she started as she continued to jump on both legs. When that didn’t work, she laid down on the ground and said she would get up only when I picked her up, a taxi came, or her mother came along to drive her home. Neither of those happened and she finally got up and trudged home saying her father doesn’t love her and she can’t enjoy life. We made it home. I got The Boy and we proceeded with the Homework Wars.