What is the matter with people? And how many posts could I begin that way? As many ways as roads Bob Dylan never lets you know there are, and dangers lurk at every corner.
So my first thought was not this is the silliest programme I have ever heard of, it was this is one of silliest names for one of the silliest programmes I have ever heard of, the Walking School Bus. It pains me to link to their website, lest you also feel your intelligence seeping out your ears as you plow through sentences like this one:
This represents the first step towards the creation of a new School Active Transportation Support Network that will strengthen collaboration with the City of Ottawa and Green Communities Canada to support active travel initiatives (walking, cycling, skateboarding etc.) while making the journey to and from school safer and more convenient for more families.
I live in a rich neck of the province, and a cold one, and we have an extensive wheeled school bus system that picks up kids who live further than 1.5 kilometres from their school right up through Grade 8. In high school it is 3.2 kilometres. [Let me digress for a second, or a hectasec, about Canada’s conversion to the metric system when I was a dyslexic 12 year old, and suddenly short measured two different ways. It was a lot of work. And 1.5 kilometres turns out to be just under a mile, and 3.2 kilometres is just under two miles. So we didn’t exactly convert the distances, just the way we named them so it is really inconvenient. Why not 1.5 and 3 kilometres? Because it is fresh European paint on an old rusty colony and it has cultured up our world with decimal places.]
But back to our little fat campers. Now it turns out that those kids will all still be riding their happy school buses. This new initiative is the brain child of a modern nitwit who rediscovered the joy of walking to school with her little one while on maternity leave, and wanted him to still walk to school after she went back to work. So she convinced the city to spend $44 thousand dollars to train people to walk children less than a mile to school, because she didn’t want her kid getting fat and lazy when she dropped him off at school as she drove to work.
Here dear, a healthy person I have got the taxpayer to pay for is going to take you to school while I get in my SUV and drive to an office tower where I convince people to create green initiatives. Have a lovely time sharing your thoughts with the paid stranger, enjoy after-school care with the nanny, and daddy and I will see you after the fundraiser for troubled youth.
Oh, sorry, let me let her tell it in her own words, with a little context from the fawning news story:
The family lives about a kilometre from the school, so the walk took about 10 to 15 minutes. But Boyd says it was often the best part of the day.
“I really liked the time in the morning to connect with him,” she says. “It was the best time to hear what was going on in his life. If he was practising for a test we could talk about it on the way to school….
But this year, Boyd has returned to work. And like so many parents, she doesn’t have time to walk with Malcolm and Farley, who is now in junior kindergarten, then walk home and leave for the office.”
I guess little Farley [he will hate you for this] doesn’t deserve what little Malcolm got, the best part of the day.
Walk your kid to school. Get a neighbourhood kid to walk your kid to school. Do anything other than this. I thought my first born was too young for the school bus, and I was too encumbered with her siblings, in and out of utero, so we skipped junior kindergarten. Then we skipped all the rest of the years up to when she was 11, and asked if she could go to school. But that’s just me. However, I sure got my kids to school every morning, even if we didn’t have to leave the house.
Here’s a thought for the mum who came up with this: set an example by doing with your child the things you want him to enjoy. Set aside forty minutes in the morning to walk him to school. They do what you do, not what you say.
And here’s a thought for the namers of the programme: it isn’t a walking school bus it is a person in an orange vest paid to guide children through the perils of suburban Ottawa, perils probably created by those kids’ mums dashing off to lawyerland, while leaving their kids with strangers.
We used to let kids play at school before school, in the yard, but apparently these schools have locked yards and the kids can’t get in before a certain time. Maybe these paid city employees could just supervise the school yard?
Do we really have to have more money than brains here so often? In a rich city with public housing riddled with bed bugs?
Who will hear about little Farley’s day? Not me said the little rich mum …