January 13, 2013Comments are off for this post.

At what age should kids walk to school alone?

For several years, one of my greatest daily pleasures has been walking my kids to grade school. It is a happy routine to walk, talk and say good morning to the neighborhood kids and parents.

During that time I have become acutely aware that virtually no children walk to school by themselves. Almost every child is accompanied by an adult. In fact, those few kids who walk to school alone stand out in sharp contrast and almost seem neglected or abused.

At first I thought this was a big city thing. I grew up in a small town, and everyone I knew walked to grade school by themselves. But after speaking with a lot of adults from places like New York, L.A., Chicago, and Boston, I discovered that they, too, walked or took public transportation to school by themselves. In fact, most of the grade school parents I see on a daily basis also walked to school alone or with friends.

Sometimes, on the way home from school in the morning, I see kids walking alone that I know from my son’s class. I say hello to them by name, and tell them they could still make the bell if I think they are running late. They usually give me a general acknowledgement with a slightly fearful look and hustle on without speaking. Those kids are brave to walk by themselves.

What it must be like to walk alone everyday, amongst a sea of their classmates who are being prodded along – often smothered with hugs and kisses by overly protective parents. I imagine these lone children have parents whose work schedules don’t allow them to walk their kids to school. Or perhaps their parents are just unreliable. I’ve never had the heart to ask any of them why they walk alone. But they do it bravely, and they seem to be fine.

I started thinking that it might be a good thing to get my son a buddy, and have the two of them walk to and from school alone occasionally to bolster their independence and responsibility. I asked one of the neighbors with a boy the same age.

“You know, I was thinking that maybe one day a week, my son and yours could walk to school together – alone – without parents. What do you think?”

The reply is thoughtful and slightly hesitant. “No. I could never forgive myself if something happened.”

I counter, “At what age do you think they could walk together alone?” We are talking about 5 blocks here. No major streets or intersections. I get the same answer from every parent.

“Never.”

Saddest of all is that the parents in this neighborhood are not exactly worried about their kids getting hit by a car, or even stabbed or shot by some gang banger. Sure, it’s a concern. Their real fear is that their child will get kidnapped by some sadistic pedophile – never to be seen again.

And who is to blame them? You only have to look on the L.A. Times crime map to see where all of the sex offenders live in your own neighborhood. Or watch the nightly news with its terrifying stories that parents share along with other gossip every morning after the second bell sends the kids off to class.

So I continue to walk my boys to school, as I work on my own unwarranted fear. When the time is right, I want them to discover their own independence, responsibility and street smarts. The real question is – will I be ready to give up my greatest daily pleasure?

Tell me this. At what age would you let your child walk to school alone or with a buddy?

June 15, 2009Comments are off for this post.

Summer Break 2009

Sunday afternoon I completed one of the most rewarding projects this year. A Gap Ad-like art project featuring all of my son's second grade classmates. A couple of weeks ago, my brother-in-law and I photographed the children in the classroom. I explained my job as an art director for advertising, and told them that they were all "Talent" or "Models" for my project.

Today I went back to unveil the final product via a big screen presentation complete with music. I described the "client presentation" process, and told them they were the clients. They were very good clients, since they liked everything. I gave them each "leave behinds" of an 13 x 19 archival giclee (poster print suitable for framing) and a DVD rom with images and the presentation movie. They were soooo happy, it left me with a stupid grin on my face all day.

This is part II of a 4-part series. Last school year I did a winter scene titled "Snow Day 2007". Only two seasons left!

Right click the image above and choose "Save link as..." or "Open link in new window" to download a copy of the large version.

What do you think? (make a comment below)

December 11, 2007Comments are off for this post.

Snow Day 2007

Today I completed one of the most rewarding projects this year. A Gap Ad-like art project featuring all of my daughter's first grade classmates. Exactly one week ago, my brother-in-law and I took photos of all of the kids wearing their winter gear. I explained my job as an art director for advertising, and told them that they were all "Talent" or "Models" for my project.

Today I went back to unveil the final product via a bigscreen projection complete with music. I described the "client presentation" process, and told them they were the clients. They were very good clients, since they liked everything. I gave them all "leave behinds" of a poster print and a DVD rom with images and the presentation movie. And also one giant poster mounted on foamcore for the classroom. They were really psyched.

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