Tag Archives: car

Car child, or calm child

We walked to playgroup and back, every day, in all weathers. Then we walked to the first primary school and back, every day, in all weathers. Then we had to cycle to the second primary school. Every day. In all weathers. Now, he cycles alone, every day, in all weathers.

During many of those trips I saw parents taking children the same way, only with cars. So, I can tell you with confidence that by the time you have got a child into and out of a car, and dealt with the parking, it may have been quicker to walk. The idea that driving is quicker and less trouble may not be true. It is always worth questioning it.

We had a good time with those walks. We saw wild things, and dogs and cats, which he always enjoyed. He had time to wake up in the morning on the way in to school, arriving brighter, fresher and more alert as a consequence of the journey in. On the way home, he had time to decompress, to share his day with me and to let off steam. I have no doubt that this has improved my son’s mental health at every stage of his life.

Our young people are suffering. Exam pressure, overcrowded classrooms, lack of opportunity to move around, and fear for the future puts a massive strain on them. Bundling them in to cars doesn’t help with this. When I walked home from school as a teenager it was a social activity and that time with friends was a good spot in my day. Kids in cars are denied those social opportunities. Bodily movement is good for all of us. Children need to move, and the journey to and from school used to give people that.

Of course the roads aren’t as safe as they used to be, and a major contributor to how unsafe the roads are is all the people driving their kids to and from school. Each car journey contributes to the air pollution that is killing people on a shocking scale. Not driving your kid to school will do more to keep them well. Most of them do not melt in the rain.

I’ve watched schools try to encourage confidence, physical health and feelings of independence in young humans. And then you drive them home. The young person who has to be resilient enough to get to and from school in any weather, develops self-confidence, self-reliance and a sense of capability and resilience. The young person who knows that their body can get them places, and who learns to take responsibility for that is learning good life lessons. Even at the age when they need accompanying, it is still teaching them good stuff.

Most adults could do with more fresh air and chilled time as well. Walking to school and back creates little pockets of good family time if you use it that way. Stressing your way through heavy traffic doesn’t do that.

What we grow up with is what we find most normal. For the kid in a car, walking and cycling may always seem a bit alien. The kid who walks or cycles is advantaged for the future. We cannot carry on with car use at the same level. One way or another, it’s going to be unfeasible. Might as well be ready for that!

Being green does not mean being miserable. I have no doubt that walking and cycling to school has improved my quality of life, and improved my son’s quality of life. It’s saved us a lot of money and given us a lot of good experiences.


I remind you of a car? A poem

I remind you of a car?

 

This machine goes from nought to five

Miles per hour only in emergencies

And never uphill.

Top speed of not much

Gets about five miles

To the pint of beer

Can do twenty miles in a day

But not if you want it to move afterwards.

May be long overdue for an MOT

Best not to dwell on the exhaust fumes.

Or the state of the upholstery.

Difficult to steer, but offroad handling superb.

Indicating things that have nothing

To do with direction of movement

May or may not have brain in gear

Has no idea what a clutch is

Much less how to use one as a metaphor

Handles wet surfaces

Well.

The built in satnav says

“I know exactly where we are”

And takes you to a wood

Full of creepy art instillations

And gets you lost, but not killed.

Has the freedom of the open road

In all weathers.

Does not require a paint job

Or rust removal

Or new tyres

But may need oiling now and then.

There are no brakes.

There are no safety belts

There is no cruise control.

But there is an ample boot

And finding a parking space is easy.

 

 

The title of course alludes to Professor Elemental’s You Remind Me of a Car – if you aren’t familiar with it, it goes a lot like this…