You know how there are times when you do something because it seems like a really good idea and then it ends up being a really crappy idea? Well, this was not one of those times.
You see, I knew what I did this morning was a really crappy idea before I did it, and then I went and did it anyway. I often do things like this as a parent (not unsafe things… just stupid ones) and they usually leave me asking WTF was I thinking?
Let me preface why I did what I did. Today is international walk to school day. I don’t know if any of you knew that, I mean it’s probably not as popular or well publicized as say, Labor Day, or Secretary’s Day, but it’s a pretty big deal. Well, big enough to come home on a note in my daughter’s backpack.
We live 1.9 miles from school, which by our county’s standards makes us “walkers.” Basically, it means we don’t get a bus because our county feels up to 2 miles is an acceptable distance to ask a 5-11yo to walk (and they don’t want to pay for more buses). So, we become carpoolers because frankly, it’s not the 80s, OK people?
Because of the events that ensued this morning I’m reassured in the decision I made to drive my children to school for the last 7 years.
Here are the events as they ensued…
It started with a creative energetic level of excitement that only a couple of 8yr old girls could have.
Jess (my daughter’s bestie), at the first house we passed: “Ry, let’s do a different walk at every house. Let’s skip past this one.”
Ry, at house 2: “Ooh, let’s hop this one.”
Jess, at house 3: “That was fun. Now, let’s get our workout on. High knees … higher.”
Ry at house 4: “This is a great workout, we’re really being healthy, let’s jog this one.”
By house 5, both girls were huffing and wanted to rest for a minute. Jess went into her backpack and started guzzling a bottle of water like she’d run a marathon. If only I had little water cups to throw at them as they crossed every 5th house.
Ry: “Mom, do we have water?”
Me: “No, I forgot, but we’re only 5 houses from home, I can get some.”
Ry: “No, we can’t go back.”
Me: “No, we can, it’s right there.”
Ry: “Uh uh, we’ve come too far.”
That pretty much solidified that this was a horrible idea and yet we trudged on.
By the end of our street, I’d been asked to carry both of their backpacks (which house little more than a folder) multiple times.
By the time we reached the gate to our development (the ½ mile marker) they were half a football field behind me.
Ry: “Hey Jess, you wanna sing the cup song?”
Jess: “No way, I need to conserve my energy.”
Me: “Conserve your energy? What has happened to you girls? You’re kids, you’re supposed to have boundless energy.”
Ry: “We do, but we’ve already walked a 5K, I bet.”
Me: “We aren’t even out of our neighborhood.”
Then a man walking towards us said good morning to me as he passed. “Good morning,” I said. And when he passed the girls, 5ft behind me, he said good morning to them as well.
They were silent.
“Mom, what do I say?” my daughter nervously asked. “You say, it back.” “But we don’t even know him.”
Holy crap, have we never left our development before? It’s as if being one foot in the outside world is new to them. They’re lost and confused. They keep mentioning how the sidewalk seems to stretch for miles. Ry warned me twice that she may dehydrate due to my lack of remembering to bring her a water bottle and her inability to air-sip out of Jess’s.
By the 1 mile mark we had already taken a break or two, where both girls grabbed their knees and hung their heads — and it only took 25 minutes to hit the midway point. I guess my plan to leave 40 minutes early was a bad one.
“How much farther? My legs hurt,” whined one.
“Yeah, and my arms hurt” whined the other.
It was like watching the first day workout on The Biggest Loser ranch. I was looking for a puke bucket, a medic, and Bob Harper.
“We don’t know if we can make it. If we see Taylor’s mom can we ask her to stop and pick us up?” (they’d hatched a plan).
“Wait, I know that car,” Jess yelled in exited exasperation as she ran waving her hands like someone stuck on a deserted island.
Someone warn me when they start talking blowing a conch shell and chasing wild boars.
“Guys, we’re not hitching a ride with someone’s mom, you can do this. Really, it’s empowering”
By the 1.5 mile marker, I fear total delirium had set in. Not only were they certain they had walked at least 7 miles, but they started saying nonsensical things, and I mean nonsensical for 8yo’s, which is pretty bad.
Jess: “I want to ride your dog, Jenny. Please? Does anyone have a sled — he could pull us.”
Me: “You can’t ride the dog, he’s the most out of shape of everyone. He’s been asking to ride you guys for the last ¼ mile. And I left my sled in my other workout shorts.”
Ry: “You know mom, this is actually fun… But I don’t mean that in the good way.”
What does that even mean? I thought. Then, I turned to see my daughter in a turban, which I’m guessing she stole from one of the lawn guys we had passed … though I can’t explain the camel she was riding.
And Jess was busily trying to mount the dog.
At this point, the girls had 4 minutes to get to school before the late bell, though I’m fairly certain they had forgotten about school and were focused on survival.
“The crossing guard is soooo far away, we’ll never get to her.” One exclaimed.
Ry: “Hey mom remember that time Bear Grylls used a shoe lace to suck water from a rock into a cup?”
“Yes,” I said, looking around at the Florida foliage dripping with excess rainwater. ”I really don’t think you should start untying your shoes. Plus, there’s a water fountain at school which is like 50 yards away.”
Ry: “I’m just reminding you in case we don’t make it.”
Shocker, my child is slightly dramatic.
Me: “Oh, you’ll make it, maybe not on time, but you’ll make it because you girls are fighters and you’re winners and you can rise to the challenges that get thrown your way, like International Walk to School Day!”
As I crossed the last crosswalk and bid them adieu, the late bell rang and I screamed, “It’s OK, it was worth it! It was all worth it. You’re better people for having survived this trek. You’ve grown as people during this walk, you’ve become women, nay, you’ve become heroes. You will always be able to look back at this day and say, ‘I persevered. Like Bear Grylls I conquered the elements, I …”
“Ma’am, um the girls are long gone,” the crossing guard said, as she packed up her bike basket, “Oh, and your dog is trying to eat that duck.” then she rode off and dinged her bell.
I knew my speech was right on the money and that she was impressed with my girls and my assessment, the same way I know that those two kids walked out of my house this morning as 8yo little girls and walked into that school as middle aged women.
And the same way I know this … NEVER AGAIN will I do something that stupid! Well, until the next time, that is.
(Then I peeled my dog off the duck, pulled out my inflatable sled and rode him home.)