One of the homes Heather and I looked at this weekend was located within walking distance of a grade school. We thought this was great, and soon had adorable visions of Annie walking herself to school each morning. Adorable visions, that is, until we watched Diane Sawyer’s interview with Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped while making her way to school as a girl and held captive for nearly twenty years.

Suddenly, Annie’s walking to school didn’t sound quite so wonderful.

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I’m walking to school, Dad! Wait… I don’t go to school yet. Oops.”

When I was a kid I wanted desperately to walk to school, but I wasn’t able to for two reasons: A) we lived too far away, and B) my mother wouldn’t have let me anyway. I was so jealous of the kids who got to walk to school. They seemed so cool – totally adult-like and free – and I was stuck in the back of my mommy’s car listening to her Neil Diamond eight track.

My mom’s overprotective nature drove me nuts as a kid. I wasn’t a baby, damn it! I was a man who just happened to inhabit the body of a nine-year-old boy! I was mature beyond my years, like Mozart or Hailey Joel Osment!

At least that’s what I thought then.

But now that I’m a parent myself? I’m starting to get it. Letting your kid walk about the world by themselves is a scary thing, and it’s even scarier today than ever before. While kids of my parent’s generation may have had to walk uphill both ways in the snow (or so they say), kids today have to deal with weirdo perverts, texting drivers not looking out for kids on foot, and even giant transforming robots. (I’m pretty sure that last one is fictitious).

Despite all of that I don’t want Annie to be raised in a bubble. I want her to be able to take care of herself, and that means allowing her some freedom. The trick, I guess, is somehow finding a happy medium for her that is safe AND independent.