Childhood memories of the school run

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Following six weeks with no school run, I once again find myself battling through traffic for thirty minutes, twice a day as I drop my eldest daughter off in the morning and collect her in the afternoon. I say undertake. Tolerate is a more accurate word.

school run, children, school, schooling, traffic, cars
The school run of my childhood: no traffic and no stress, just cornfields and a single track road.

I can’t quite describe my feelings towards the school run. Suffice it to say, I don’t enjoy it.

Just the other day I found myself stuck in traffic having dropped Helen off at school. I was bored and my mind wandered. I started reminiscing about my childhood and what the school run was like when I was a youngster.

There’s a big difference between my upbringing and my kids’.  I was raised in the countryside and traffic wasn’t an issue. My daughters have been raised in the suburbs surrounded by horrendously congested roads. I don’t believe in mollycoddling my kids, but I do feel they have to be protected from traffic and the roads around my part of the world are ridiculously busy and often hilly with narrow pavements.

I appreciate there is a certain irony in me driving Helen to school and adding to the traffic. It just happens that the school isn’t on our doorstep. When Helen is older, she will be able to take a public bus and walk the final bit. At this point in time, she’s too young and I am, of course, accompanied by our three year old daughter. Unfortunately this makes driving the practical option at this point in time.

When I was a kid, my uncle used to drive to the local town and drop me off in the mornings. It was convenient as it coincided with when he went to open up his shop, which was just around the corner from the school.

In fact, I remember one winter’s day he borrowed the neighbouring farmer’s Land Rover to drive through the snow to get me there on time. That must have been very cool for a kid of about six.

For the return leg, however, I travelled back by bus every night. The bus didn’t drop me at my door. I was left about a mile away in an incredibly isolated part of the countryside. Sometimes I walked back on my own up a single track road, sometimes my grandmother met me and walked me home.

Oddly, I have no recollection of what happened when it rained! I can only remember that single track road in glorious sun light, cornfields on either side. This probably says a lot about how happy and content I was as a young boy.

As an aside, I clearly recall one occasion when I was walking back on my own. It was, quelle surprise, a very sunny day and a van driver stopped and offered me a lift and.  I accepted, but a few seconds later remembered that I wasn’t meant to accept lifts from strangers.

I tried, as politely as I could, to get him to drop me off round the corner from my house to ensure my crime wasn’t witnessed. My attempt to cover-up my wrongdoing failed. It turned out he was a painter and decorator who was known to my family. This guy knew exactly who I was and was visiting our house to do some work.

To my amazement, I didn’t get told off. Even so, I learned a valuable lesson and never accepted a lift from a stranger again.

For kids in rural areas, I find it hard to believe things can have changed too much. Families still live, like I did, at the end of single track roads in the middle of nowhere. School buses can’t go to everyone’s front door in such a scenario.

It’s a form of school run my kids will probably never know. It’s a shame. I enjoyed those walks and they kept me fit.

What are your memories of the school run? Were you a townie, with the school on your doorstep or did you live miles away like me? Also, at what age do you think kids can travel to school on their own?

15 thoughts on “Childhood memories of the school run”

  1. I love the bit about lift home from a stranger. I did exactly the same! Was walking home and a couple stopped to talk to me, said they knew my parents, and offered me a lift home. Classic stranger danger scenario. Luckily, they were entirely genuine. And it never even occurred to me they could be lying, despite all the ‘don’t accept lifts for strangers’ content we had thrown at us.

    1. In many respects these stories show that adults don’t adhere to the stranger danger message. I don’t think I would offer a lift to any child because on the grounds they shouldn’t accept it in the first place! Possibly slightly harsh logic, but I think it makes sense.

  2. I love the lift home story and the immediate realisation you’d done something you shouldn’t have. On a sad note it does make me wonder if that thought went through the head of every child who wasn’t as lucky as you.

    I used to walk and take the bus to school in Glasgow, about 2 miles or so. I saw my first stabbing on that school walk. Good old Glasgow.

    1. Oh, so you’re a closet weegie. I suppose they don’t call it satb city for nothing.

      And you’re right, how many kids do think that when they make the same mistake? Although I was in no danger whatsoever, it taught me a lesson.

  3. I lived really close to school and walked every day, but my college commute was about a 1.5 mile walk and then a 30min bus journey. I used to love that walk! It gave me space to think and get my head straight. #BrillBlogPosts

  4. Primary school we were on the edge of the village and probably a mile but i don’t recall walking apart from in snow. But in the older years at primary the school bus would come past the bottom of the road after picking up from outlying villages so we used to get on as well.

    Secondary we all used to walk, except on orchestra day when I also had saxophone lesson and sports. It was a 3 mile round trip and was quite sociable walking with friends.

    N gets driven. We’re outside the village and there s no pavements and narrow bendy holly roads. It’s just not safe at that time of day. He would love to cycle but I have the drop and then do the 7 mile commute in to work within 30 minutes. It’s just not feasible. Thankfully it’s a small school and I st of the traffic because he’s at early morning club and I pick umhim up from after school club.

    When he’s older, maybe year 5 or 6 he’ll be allowed to cycle picking up his friend from across the road. Butvi think his dad wouldn’t think the roads are safe enough. He’s probably right, without an adult.

    1. Congested roads are my biggest concern. I’ve lived in rural areas and I’ve lived in towns and cities and I believe the roads around us are the most congested I’ve ever seen. I just couldn’t have my kids cycle. Sadly it’s too dangerous. They can maybe walk when older, but it is a long way.

  5. I grew up walking or cycling to school (bar a period living in a small Norfolk village when I was bussed in, seeing Barn Owls from the bus), now we bus my daughter in and I’d hate to drive her as the roads are atrocious, and parents seem to forget all road etiquette at school drop off, dumping cars on others drives or in the middle of roads causing chaos!

    1. Oh some of the worst driving I see is on the school run. I don;t claim I’m perfect, but parents really can be thoughtless at times. Keep bussing your kid in, I really dislike having to go by car.

  6. Pingback: Do you send out conflicting messages about stranger danger? - Dad Blog UK

  7. Great post! My childhood was from a town perspective and I wondered through housing estates and busy trunk roads to get to school. Weirdly and the opposite to you, I can remember the grey, wet and dark winters days more than the sunny summer walks.

    My kids and I now live in a little village. The local primary school is a ten minute stroll through the village parks and my eldest boys school is about two miles away in the neighboring market town. He can either walk through the village or his favoured route is on his bike and takes him down country lanes, along the moat of a ruined castle and through a little woodland area before arriving at school.

    1. You know what would be an interesting experiment? To speak to your kids in 20 years time and see what they remember of their school run. I bet they are happy memories. Sounds truly idyllic.

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