The school bus stops just outside our house at the same time every day. Every day, four or five SUVs appear with a kid in each. They live at most three blocks from the bus stop, but they can’t walk to wait for the bus.
In my day, I walked 10 miles every day through a blinding sleet storm, uphill both ways, and I made it every day.
Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
I do remember the first day of kindergarten. My mother drove me to school and dropped me off in a special location designated for kindergartners. From then on, my older brother walked me to school for a short time until I got to know other kids and walked with them.
It got to be fun, especially on the way home. There were games to play, trees to climb, etc. I think that first day was the only time I was driven to school.
School was about six blocks from my house. Intermediate school was different. It was located a little over two miles from my house and I rode my bike.
Saginaw was a little different than Grand Haven in that we didn’t have the heavy snows that we do here. I do remember my mother giving me bus money on the days we did get heavy snows or when it was bitterly cold so that I could take the city buses.
High school was easy, for it was only about five blocks.
The kids in my current neighborhood don’t walk a couple of blocks to wait for the school bus, which comes every day at the same time, plus or minus five minutes. They are driven to the bus stop even in the nice weather that we have experienced lately. I think that constitutes coddling.
I also think it is not particular to my neighborhood. I think today’s kids are coddled and undisciplined; it’s the main reason they don’t succeed as well as European and Asian students in the sciences and mathematics.
It’s not their fault; it’s the fault of their parents. We indulge in their wants and desires too readily. It’s going to backfire in a generation or two when it becomes too expensive to drive kids to the bus stop and sit there idling the car until the bus comes.
Maybe if they walk to school or the bus stop, it will reduce the obesity problem.
I also think that it is the reason that kids develop so many allergies and illnesses. It’s because we keep them so antiseptically clean. I’m told that farm kids develop fewer allergies than city kids. There is something to be said about shoveling manure.
I don’t mean that they should be kept filthy or encouraged to eat dirt, but rushing to use antibiotics isn’t necessary, except in extreme cases. A little common sense is to be used in the little accidents that occur every day.
When I developed a sore that took a long time to heal, my wife asked the doctor if I should take antibiotics. He said he didn’t think it was necessary, but the best thing to do was to keep the wound clean at all times. He didn’t place much store in antibiotics.
I’ve read that we are using too much antibiotics, and they are getting into our water supply and the bugs are mutating to the point that antibiotics are becoming useless.
So kids, get out there and find your own way to school, and get dirty doing it. Also, climb a few trees on the way home and skin your knees a few times — and don’t tell your parents.
— By Ralph Wiltse, Tribune community columnist