I am not sure what the point of this is, other than it is one of those things you wake up and notice one day. You notice that the entire world has changed in some aspect or another, and the change was so gradual what we don't notice it. It is like smart phones. We all mocked the people who bought the first ones and walked around looking at them intently and then walking straight into a parking meter. Today, we are all brain-dead smart-phone users, doom-scrolling for the latest news or trying to "stay in touch" via social media, while at the same time, insulating ourselves from the immediate world at large.
Picking up your kids at school is now a thing and it probably won't change very soon. It is funny, but I recall an article in the Washington Post about a woman who let her 9-year-old son take the subway to school. This was, of course, during the brief heyday of New York City when Mayor Bloomberg practiced "broken window policing" and the subways were clean and new and people well-behaved. Today, they are homeless shelters and we can't do anything about it - it's impossible! Right?
She was, of course, excoriated online as the World's Worst Mom. And maybe because people remember the Etan Patz case. Etan was only six years old when his parents allowed him to walk to the bus stop alone and some deranged idiot kidnapped and killed him. Yes, this does happen - just as runaway 14-year-olds are vulnerable to sickos and psychos.
But there has to be some sort of happy medium. Otherwise, why bother having school buses at all? I suppose the self-driving car will be an answer of sorts to this problem. It could be programmed to take the kids to school - and only school - and the doors locked once they get in. And video monitoring (already a fact of life) will let Mom keep an eye on the tots while she sips her coffee at home. Perhaps.
I am trying to think back to my early school days. In Illinois, the bus stop was across the street from our house. My brother (three years older) and I would wait there along with several other kids from the neighborhood. Safety in numbers. But in terms of "free range kids" we were allowed a lot of latitude. We could ride our Stingrays a mile or more to the candy store. We run wild through the neighborhood, climbing the skeletal framing of the new houses going up - and then jumping from the second story onto a sand pile. We would throw rocks into the wet concrete of the newly poured basements - and then show them to the kids who moved in once the houses were built. I guess it was a different world, a simpler time.
Or was it? We were shown the "stranger danger" film more than once in school and admonished "never to take rides (or candy) from strangers!" So the risk to kids was known even back then. Of course, back then, a "small family" was four children and I guess parents felt that they could afford to lose one or two along the way.
Not everyone subscribes to the kiddie chauffeur model, however. My neighbors have their children ride the buses to school (there are more than one) and I am awakened every morning to the sound of air brakes. But the bus drops them at the end of the driveway, so I am not sure there is much "danger" on our little island from strangers or otherwise. Incidentally, when we moved here there were hardly any children on the island. "God's waiting room" is changing and we are seeing more and more kids around. Time to move, I guess.
Maybe if gas goes to $5 a gallon, people will put their kids on the bus again. Maybe, but I doubt it. It seems to me people would rather bitch and moan and complain about gas prices rather than actually do something about it. During a recent trip to Florida with the trailer, we got an amazing 14 MPG on the way down, and 15 MPG on the way back (tailwind!). That doesn't sound like much, but most RV'ers are getting 8-11 MPG on a good day - or less. The secret was, of course, to stay in the right lane and go about 60 MPH. It was amazing to me how so many people were speeding and cutting each other off - even truckers - just to get somewhere ten minutes faster. With gas at $4.80 a gallon and diesel at $5.65 you'd think they'd slow down, but it is easier to put a "Let's Go Brandon!" sticker on your bumper instead.
The cost of driving your kids to school could be a lot more than you think. Operating a car is more than just the cost of gas. But it is a luxury we can afford - I guess. For now.