I Have To Push My Own Limits To Let My Kids Find Theirs

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

A few weeks ago, my older son’s elementary school took part in National Walk and Bike to School Day, which meant meeting the school’s teachers in a parking lot a mile from the school and walking there en masse — with a police escort. We live in a small New England town, surrounded mostly by farms and forests, with one busy road through the center. It is remarkable to me that we need a national holiday to encourage people to walk to school, and that the journey has to be so carefully orchestrated.

Then again, earlier this year a family in Maryland made headlines for letting their kids, ages 6 and 10, walk to a park a mile away from their home. Local police picked up the kids and delivered them to Child Protective Services.

My son’s childhood couldn’t be more different from my father’s. My grandparents doubted that my dad would make it to his 18th birthday. By the time he finished high school, he had fallen from a tree two stories high and broken both arms; run through a glass door, causing a gash so deep and so near his eye that doctors weren’t sure they could safely stitch it up; raced a homemade go-cart down an impossibly steep hill, nearly killing a cow; and stuck his foot in a vat of 375-degree oil, resulting in months in the hospital.

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shan palmer