Would You Let Your Six-Year-Old Walk Home Alone?

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My daughter.

Oh, my daughter

Only 6-years-old, but ready to take on the world by herself.

Miss. Independent.

Her independent spirit is both a blessing and a curse. It's been challenging as a mother to learn when to step in and say "enough -- you NEED HELP" (usually when we are running late and there isn't another minute to spare for her to figure shit out) and when to step away and let her work it out.

Another challenge I face is the "is it too soon for her to *fill in the blank*?" You see, she wants to do things that I do not feel she's ready for at 6-years-old.

There is one thing in particular that she wants to do and has been begging me to allow her to do for the past 2 weeks.

Walk home from the bus stop all by herself.


Each time she has asked me this question (every day, for the past 14 days, multiple times each day OMG) my answer has been, "no." And her response has always been, "but why not?" And my response is always, "because you're too young." And her response has always been, "but I know that I need to stay on the side of the road and watch for cars and not to get in a stranger's car!"

My response?

"Even still ... no, child."

Her response?

"When are you going to let me grow up, mother?"

Sigh.

Today, I was sitting at my desk, working while Rhianna blasted on my iPod. It was 1:25 pm, 45 before I had to leave to pick up kid #1 from school. I thought I heard the door bell ring. I ignored it at first, because I usually don't answer the door if I'm not expecting someone. But then it rang again. And again. And again.

Ding dong. Ding dong. Ding dong.

Who in the HELL?

I got out of my chair, tip toed to take a look through the peephole.

I didn't see anyone right away.

Huh, I thought. That was weird.

But then the bell rang again. This time, I saw what appeared to be MY DAUGHTER.

I opened the door. Standing in front of me was my little girl and she had the biggest smile on her face.

I was confused for a second or 12.

"I did it, Mommy! I told you I could do it! Thank you for letting me walk home all by myself!"

I didn't let her walk home by herself. What I had done was failed to remember that it was early dismissal because of parent/teacher conferences.

I started shaking, and I know that sounds dramatic but it felt dramatic. I had forgotten that my daughter got out of school early and she had WALKED HOME FROM THE BUS STOP ALL BY HERSELF.

Right after it happened, I did what any digital mom would do. I posted about it on Facebook.

My daughter has been asking me to let her walk home from the bus stop for the past 2 weeks. My answer has been, "NO!" She's only 6! Just now, the door bell rang. It was my daughter. Apparently, it was early dismissal & I didn't know it. I feel like a horrible mother, but she is SO PROUD.

The comments kind of surprised me.

They ranged from "I would need someone to hold me" to "I think I'd have a heart attack!" to "Free range kids, baby!" and "God took care of cutting the umbilical cord a little more today."

Which got me thinking ... is 6 really too young to walk home from the bus stop alone? (The bus stop is around the corner from our street, not far at all.) Or am I being overprotective, smothering mother who is not letting my child be the independent child that she wants to be? Would you (do you) let your first grader walk home from the bus stop all alone?

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