I am trying to train myself to be a Morning Person. Okay, I will probably never be a true morning person, but I’m attempting to be less of an Absolutely-Not-A-Morning-Person. To that end, I’ve been going outside early. Typically, I will wake up and not fully start my day until after I’ve puttered on my phone a bit, looking at email, reading some news, and doing some Duolingo. In the past, this occurred in bed. My big innovation is to get dressed and take myself out to our front patio and putter while sprawled on the sofa there.
It may not seem like much, but this morning I woke up at 6:30 am unprompted, and I had no particular desire to go back to sleep, which is almost unprecedented. So maybe that morning sun exposure is helping. Now, a real morning person is rewarded with a delightful sunrise to start their day, but that’s way too advanced for me. Instead, my little treat as an aspiring morning person, if I manage to get outside early enough, is that I can watch all the kids go to school.
As I was watching, I realized it was a whole parade of parenting choices. As you may recall, I am an enthusiastic advocate for walking to school, and not just walking to school, but letting kids walk on their own. But I saw all sorts of scenarios, and the range was particularly striking because the ages of all of the kids was so close: I’d say that almost every student was in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade.
Earliest of all were the kids waiting for the bus on the front lawn with their parent. Every time I’ve seen these kids waiting for the bus, they’ve had a parent with them to supervise them, and then they get picked up by the bus and ride along our one-way side of the boulevard, away from the school and past our house, to sit on the bus and drive around the neighborhood before heading to school. I saw another child, also waiting for a bus, but they were permitted to wait alone. Then there were the walkers: groups of kids and single students who were walking on their own. A parent and child walking and talking companionably together. A parent walking their dog and their child and the parent urging the child along, trying to get them to hurry. A couple of kids walking together while their mothers hung back, chatting with each other while keeping an eye on their kids a few houses ahead of them.
Last of all, a boy rode a bike while wearing a backpack and carrying a light-looking-but-bulky reusable grocery bag as well. It was almost painful to watch him. I knew that he was late. He was biking with great difficulty as the bag banged against his knee and twirled into the bike’s spokes. In front of my house, with still a block and a half to go, he stopped. Clearly, this wasn’t working. It was time to do some problem solving. I was tempted to call out and help, but I stayed out of it. First, he tried to loop the handles over his head, but his helmet was too large. He sighed, unstrapped his helmet, and tried again. This time the loops fit, and with his new bag handle necklace, he was able to toss the bag back so that it rested out of the way, on his backpack. As a mom, I would have preferred that he let the bag rest in front on his chest, which seemed a lot less choke-y to me, but he was in charge of himself. He hopped back onto his bike and took off quickly now that the bag was out of the way.
I felt relieved for him as he pumped his way up the incline to the elementary school, but it was also striking how the get-to-school parade was bookended by two opposite ends of the parenting spectrum. Every parent has to decide for themselves, and who knows whatever other invisible factors go into their decisions. But that kid on the bike had the chance to do some creative problem solving, practice persistence, face and conquer a challenge, and get in some cardio, all before he even got to school to start his official learning for the day. So: go him!
I got another treat this morning, too: a little flower arrangement that I suspect is from my neighbor. So this was my morning view (the yellow flowers are natives I planted! coreopsis!):