I know moms are supposed to cry on the first day of kindergarten. I didn’t. My daughter seemed content and confident and nothing like the little boy who was sobbing and clinging to his mother like an octopus stuck on a rock.
I did cry today, however, as I watched my now fourth-grader meet a neighborhood friend and bicycle off to school five blocks away – without me or any other parent chaperoning their street crossings, yelling, “Look both ways!!!” and “Come to a full stop!!!”
Paranoid delusions take hold
It took an act of faith because I am afraid to let her do this even though she and I waged battle all last year because she didn’t want to ride her bike at all, opting for a comfortable car seat. Still, I found myself entertaining a range of paranoid fantasies as I watched her ride away: A driver will be blinded by the early morning sun and roll through a stop. A teenaged driver will be blasting music and not paying attention to the bicycle crosswalk. A weirdo will pull up offer them candy.
I spent three days prepping for this morning’s inevitable graduation, hopping on my cruiser and tailing the two girls from a block away, making sure I saw their helmet-clad heads swivel at each crossing.
Yesterday, I asked my kiddo if she wanted to ride without me. She said she still wanted me around in case she couldn’t figure out her bike lock. She still needed me. Today, though, her friend came by without her mom with eyes blazing at the prospect of a multi-block stretch of complete and total independence. I asked my daughter if she was ready to go it without me.
As she took off up the street, she confidently yelled, “Bye mom! See you later!”
Tears and bike helmets
I walked toward the house with tears in my eyes.
I couldn’t let go entirely. I didn’t follow her wearing a wig, a dark cape and sunglasses, but I did make my husband walk to school with me just so I could see her little purple bike safely locked in the rack with her helmet draped over the handle bar.
Her desire to grow up is as fierce as my desire to make her slow down. But one strenuous pedal at a time, I’m letting her go.
For more information about how to encourage students to bike to school, read this EdNews Parent post. And share your thoughts by making a comment about whether you let your children bike to school without a parent. Why, or why not?