The other night, I turned on the news with Lester Holt and heard the story of the Maryland couple under investigation for allowing their two children to walk to school without them.
The children are 10 and 6 years old. I had to rub my eyes.
As a child of 5 years old, I would walk to school with my siblings. My sister was 7 and my brother was 9. Sometimes we would stop and play, and I remember twice breaking through the ice of a creek along which we walked and my boots filling with water.
I remember a kid throwing a stone and hitting me in the forehead. I ran home shrieking. I remember the path we took to the school that involved a short jaunt through the timber. We would walk home every day for lunch as well, and our mom would read to us while we ate. Then, we would walk back to school, along the creek and through the woods. We knew our way.
Was it safe? Maybe. Maybe not. I guess I could have gotten frostbite from the frozen water in my boots. The kid could have put my eye out with the rock that hit my forehead. We could have been snatched. But we survived and were probably the wiser for it.
Yet there is the Maryland couple in the national spotlight under investigation for the same thing my parents did.
Is this a measure of a litigious, politically correct world in which we live or is it a measure that the world is truly more dangerous? Is it really to the point where we must punish parents and call it a crime to kiss their children goodbye and trust they will find their way again for the umpteenth time?
If it’s a crime, investigators driving through the north end in Dubuque should be sated with offending parents who they could banish to jails supported by all of us.
The Maryland parents risked having their children taken away from them if they did not comply with Child Protective Services and sign a safety agreement. The agreement says they agree not to let their children walk unattended.
What will be next? Maybe unclutching your child’s hand could become the new crime flavor. In fact, maybe children 10 and under should be carried.