A friend in the USA recently sent me some pictures of her little 5 yr old's departure to his first day of school. He didn't want to leave home, but there he was, at the end of the driveway, drying his tears...before long he would be a pro at taking the school bus to & from home. What?! Taking the bus?! Did I hear that correctly?
I knew then and there I'd been in Europe too long. I distinctly recall that parents tend to take their kids to school and pick them up again until they can do trigonometry! And, on top of that, with the mammas - and sometimes more often the babysitters - dragging their backpacks for them. Not to mention that in Europe, school starts at 6 to boot.
Granted, my friend no longer lived in New York City where I'm quite certain parents still drop off the kids at the playground. A friend who lives outside Rome told me there are no school buses --- so the kids either have to take regular city transportation or get toted around by their live-in drivers.
In Switzerland, the public schools are positioned so close to every single neighborhood, no child need walk more than 5 blocks to get there. And even then, parents often are the official escorts, although they sometimes work in a Pedi-Bus where the kids form a sort of human chain to walk the 3 blocks to the school yard, of course, manned by a parent or two. Über-efficient Switzerland does have its drawbacks as another friend posted on Facebook, why does school have to start at 8:40???
As for my friend, I was still aghast that parents didn't accompany the kid on the first day of class...She said it was actually discouraged, because then you get the cling-ons and all the rest. She then reminded me that he did have, in fact, his big sister on the bus with him -- But then again, when she first started school she made it in all on her own, and she hadn't even turned five yet--
How was your first day of school? Your kids'? When kids in Europe don't start driving until 18, are we just part of a long tradition of dependency? Where does it start? And, perhaps more importantly, where does it end?
For one Italian family, they've gone to the courts to get their 41 yr old out of the house. (click here for the link) [Although they shouldn't hold their breath on this option-the courts have consistently sided with the 48 yr old kiddies-you can see some articles on this in my Notizie column on the right hand side].