Next week Amanda will turn 10. Yesterday she started fifth grade. Fifth grade here is intermediate school (5th and 6th), so she has a new school on a new bus route. In elementary school, the bus came right by here. She was picked up at our driveway, which made it easy for her to wait alone and get off and come inside by herself.
The roads here are curvy and rural -- no sidewalks, no shoulders, so when I saw the new route, I thought it was just a mistake that they expected her to walk around the big curve to catch it at a nearby intersection. Well, it was no mistake. It's not that it's that far (maybe .3 to .4 mile), but it's not a simple matter to walk there.
When I was in fourth grade, a year younger than Amanda is now, I walked to and from school. I did live in a typical suburban neighborhood, but part of the trip was on a fairly busy street with no sidewalks (but I did traverse the nicely manicured lawns). I clocked my old elementary school walk, thanks to Google maps, and it's .6 mile.
I loved those times walking by myself. Part of it was the independence and responsibility of getting myself home. Part of it the time it afforded me to talk to myself and tell stories and just be alone.
When I called the transportation administrator, I said that it was my assumption that a 5th grader could get herself off and on the bus herself, and that I just wasn't sure that this route would allow that. I said I'd give it a try, and see how it went. Well after one day, I can see that it's going to be just fine. I need to just change my mindset of how young (old) she is and let her take on this responsibility.
Another area in which the double standard of what I did and what I feel that she is capable of doing came to mind as I was taking a walk down memory lane reading about everyone's favorite chapter books in the Children's Classics carnival.
More than once, Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume came up as a mention of a book that was enjoyed and read and re-read. Yes, me too. I'm sure that I had read this by the time I was in fifth grade, if not fourth. When I was reading people's memories of it, I thought, "I don't think Amanda's ready to read about breasts and whatever else it mentions. And certainly I don't know if I want to entrust her to read about an eleven-year-old girl's doubts about religion."
And that's what it comes to. Trust. Trusting that as she grows taller and older that her discernment is also maturing. Trusting that although she's no longer a little girl, she's still my child and God's child.
I have a feeling that I'll be re-reading Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, and perhaps passing it along to her before too long. And after we find a workable morning routine, I am fairly sure that Amanda will indeed be handling the responsibility of getting herself off and on the bus -- extending her freedom from the end of the driveway to another corner of the neighborhood.