Odd one out… again

This week marked a big milestone in our family. My eldest started big school – Kindergarten. Rather than bringing her to school all teary eyed on her first day, I was rejoicing at this great milestone in hers, and my life!

But instead of thinking solely on the milestone that Primary school is for my daughter, I have been left feeling somewhat ethically compromised. Ever since we moved to our new house, I knew this day way coming. School drop offs and school pick ups. Forever more… or at least until I feel comfortable putting her on the bus.

“Why is school drop offs and pick ups an ethical dilemma” you ask? The answer is simple. The car. I dread getting in and out of my car twice a day for such a short trip, invariably ending up in the traffic of all the other parents also trapped into the school drop offs and pick ups. I cannot stand to think that I am contributing to the carbon emissions causing havoc around the world.

I feel a ripe old hypocrite being so conscious of this only when concerning school drop offs and pick ups. I use my car for almost every other trip – although the other day we all went into the city by train, and we sometimes catch the bus to the local Westfield. But the reason I so oppose the use of my car in this instance is because it is relentless… and such a bore. Every week day, in and out of the car, strapping 3 kids in, breeding apathy.

So I decided that we would not be like this. Today, my daughter, on her first full day at school, in 30+ degree heat, my two other kidlets strapped into the trailer and I, all rode to school. I thought I would be received into a community of like-minded mums and dads, trying to do what is best for the environment and their kids, all with bike helmets in hand. But alas, once again, my family and I are the odd ones out. I’m used to this feeling, and I suppose my kids will just have to get used to it. We don’t do things the way other people do. Why be like everyone else?

But I am still surprised. Why is there so little effort by parents these days to allow their children to walk, ride or catch the bus to and from school. I recall one morning when I was on my way to teach scripture at my local public school, a mother was packing the kids into the car to drive them to school… half a block away. Like really, other parents were dropping their kids further afield and instructing them to walk. But not this family. They lived within a 2 minute walk, and there they were, getting strapped in, presumably so the parent could drive them across the road safely.

My daughter is enrolled at a Catholic school. There is strong emphasis at this school on the faith element of a person’s life. It saddens me that such a vibrant faith community would be so lacking in its ethical, moral and spiritual obligation to keep our planet healthy. What a shame this generation will believe they are incapable of getting anywhere without a car. The Vatican recognises the urgent need to address the problem of Climate Change. Schools have a fantastic opportunity to show parents and their children that tackling Climate Change can be as simple as changing their approach to school drop offs and pick ups.

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