inmandyland

I Let My Kids Walk Alone to a Friend’s House (& They Were FINE)

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I have a friend who lives a quarter mile away from our house. If we lived on a straight, cookie cutter suburban street, we could stand in our front yards and wave to each other. But, we don’t live in the suburbs — we live in the country. The streets dead end and restart two blocks away and the idea of sidewalks and streetlights never seemed to cross the city planners’ minds. The road between our houses is filled with twists, turns, and hills. It’s lined with raised pickup trucks, motor homes, and 75-year-old oak trees.

The other day, my friend needed to borrow the proverbial cup of sugar. We were halfway to noon and I’d yet to get dressed or have a cup of tea. I was buried shoulder deep in a mountain of laundry. A pile of bills teetered on the edge of my desk, and the kitchen showed the remains of a pancake breakfast. I knew that a quick drop off would turn into an hour long chat between two working mothers who rarely have time to meet up face-to-face. 

I looked at my children, industrious ants putting away their clothes and “cleaning” their room and realized when I was my son’s age, I’d often walked to the corner market far from my parents’ watchful eyes. I decided to do something that some people would deem irresponsible and outright dangerous: I let my children deliver the sugar.

“How would you two like to drop something off to Meghan? On your own.” I asked them, my heart pounding with a tinge of fear. Was I insane? After all, we live in a society where the police get involved when children walk home alone. A tiny part of me wondered whether I was asking for trouble to let my duo walk to my not-quite-next-door neighbor’s house alone.

They dropped their clean socks like hot potatoes at the novelty of an adventure without their mother attached to them. I put the requested supplies in a bag and went over the rules: Stay on the grassy easement to the side of the road, don’t talk to strangers, and don’t get in anyone’s car. They put on their jackets and held hands as they strutted off up the hill.

I whipped out my phone and texted Meghan to let her know that my babies were on their way and to let me know when they got there. Then, knowing I was defeating the purpose of their adventure, I crossed the street and walked to the corner where I could still see my daughter’s bright pink jacket flashing between the shrubs.

Less than three minutes later, my phone chimed. My children had made it to Meghan’s house without a problem. I hurried across the street and peered between the neighbor’s boat and truck as my kids came into view. I scuttled into the house and watched from the window as they walked up the drive way, feeling eight feet tall and grinning proudly.

Their adventure lasted about six minutes. The confidence they gained was immeasurable.

Photo: Getty