I was raised in the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area. We have amazing transportation systems there-buses, BART, Muni, you name it. Hell, you can even take a boat to work. My husband, however, was raised in small isolated towns. his concept of public transportation are those large wheeled things homeless people hang out on.
Now that we live in the Sacramento area, we have pretty great transportation. My complaints are few-light rail not yet running til 3 am would be at the top of that list. Other than that though, I'm fairly complaint free (on this matter....).
Now that we are raising kids in the early new millennium, I feel that it is important to expose our children to the amazing wonders of public transportation. Being sheltered children however has left them wary of buses. Hell, Monkey Boy won't walk 3 blocks when he wants a haircut. In the daylight.
So when I mentioned my desire to send him off into the world of buses and light rail trains he was non-plussed. In fact, he looked as if I had vomited a moldy sock. From my nose.
But I not asking a ton. Am I? I plan to explain the system to him. Show him maps. Take his first voyage with him. Show him that the world is his oyster.
When I was 8, I spent the night at my cousin's house quite a bit. She lived across town (a 30 minute bus ride) and my dad would walk me to the stop, wait with me, and wave goodbye. I would sit behind the driver with my suitcase packed full of stuffed animals. Possibly some clothing, too. Oh, and extra money to go down to Broadway Plaza and have some Cookies 'n Cream ice cream at McCaulou's. The flavor was new, and we got to sit at wonderful little bistro tables and enjoy it, like we were hot shit.
We would wander downtown, seeing movies, buying books and "oily" stickers, trying on crap we couldn't afford that wasn't age-appropriate anyways, and we KNEW we were super awesome.
Also, I would ride the bus to bowling. Back when bowling was cool. (Remember when bowling was cool? Me neither, but it WAS, because I bowled. When it was cool to bowl.) I would jump on the County Connection bus (a very appealing brown, maroon and beige), sit behind the driver, and tell them where I was going, until I got the hang of the route. I loved pulling the yellow plastic rope, and hear the ding. Sometimes, there was a yellow strip to press-each bus was different. I would sit, looking at the piles of pamphlets, thinking of all the amazing places I could go with 25 cents and unlimited transfers. I even ran into my grandmother once in a while! I continued taking that bus until I got my license and bought a car.
Still, in new towns, I take buses. It's a great way to get around and not worry about expensive cabs or designated drivers.
My family thinks I am crazy.
But, I feel this is important. MB is 12-at 12 I was taking field trips to San Francisco on the train, with 29 other peers, one teacher and one parent. We would be given a scavenger hunt, and told to meet the teacher and parent (what was the purpose of the parent???) at the theatre later for whatever play we were seeing.
Now, I am not suggesting I throw my son to the wolves, when he has no experience with this mode of transportation. But I feel that if he wants to hang out at Scandia or the movie theatre, he should be able to negotiate biking there, walking there, or using a bus to get there. That freedom he will get will build his self-esteem and confidence like nothing else.
Yes, I will be worried. I won't follow him though. I will, despite the feeling in my stomach, sit patiently until he gets home. I have to trust he can do this. He needs to KNOW he can do this. Honestly, I can leave him home for 4 hours, in charge of the sister he frequently wants to kill, but he can't take a bus to the movies? That makes no sense to me, and it has got to end.
Oh, and I'm sick of driving his ass around, too.
Wish us ALL luck!