Tuesday, October 25, 2016

No Helicoptering of Children

Not long ago, I saw parents escorting and staying with their elementary school children at bus stops. This is called helicopter parenting, a riff on how they’re said to hover over them.

This is not good for children. In ninth grade, I had to walk two miles to school. Part of it was up a steep hill. Here it is nowadays, with improvements.

It sure didn’t look this way back then. The steps were dirt, which turned to mud the first day I had to hike up it. Many of the girls were quite in distress over it. Later, they added crude steps in the form of railroad ties held in place by pipes that were hammered down. The pipes had no safety caps; just ends of pipes sticking up from the dirt or mud. We had to be careful not to jam our legs on them as we climbed.

Often I had to carry my alto saxophone case, which weighed thirteen pounds, in addition to my books.

Did I appreciate this at the time? No. Was it good for me? Looking back on it, yes. Not just in the sense of physical fitness, but in the sense of building character, which I now believe has to include physical challenges at a young age with no safety net. I never saw any parents escort their children up those steps. Now, parents drive their children to school when they could take the bus. I was shocked to find out some years ago that there were traffic jams around some schools because of how many parents dropped off or picked up their children from school.

But now look at that path. They have installed nice steps, instead of dirt. And there’s a railing. We didn’t need a railing as we toiled up and down with our books and musical instruments. 


Crystal Collier said...

We're supposed to leave the world better than we found it for the rising generation, eh? I'm betting someone who had to make the trek like you did ended up lobbying for the stairs.

Mark Murata said...

I have to agree with on advocating improvements. What I was trying to get across is that some hardship is good for the young soul.


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