Wednesday, May 5, 2010

schools and neighborhoods

In June, we will have owned our house for 9 years. It seems like forever, and yet like there's no way we could have possibly been here this long.

When we found this house, it was love at first sight. The neighborhood was a secondary benefit, not much considered at the time. It's a mix of middle class families, spanning everything from lower middle to upper middle class, with many different ethnicities and nationalities included. Our house was brand new when we moved in, up in the front of the neighborhood, where a developer was tearing down the oldest houses and building new ones. While there are a few houses as new as ours on our street, most of the houses were 30-40 years old when we moved in, and a lot of 10-15 year old houses further back, followed by another batch of 30-40 year old houses. There are kids out in front yards playing, and riding their bikes and sometimes even playing hockey in the street.

One of the best things about our neighborhood, though, is that there's a public elementary school nestled back in the houses, with a large city park across the street from it. It's about 3/4 of a mile, give or take, which is well within what I'd consider walking distance - the school I attended as a child had a policy of not bussing kids who were a mile or less from school. There are no major streets to cross to get there, only quiet neighborhood streets, with sidewalks for all but one very short block.

Tentatively, this is the school Acorn will attend when he's kindergarten age - it's the default assumption, at any rate. There is a Montessori charter school that opened a few miles away last year that we'd like to check out as an alternative....but...I mean, we both work, and we don't really think a private school is the best use of our money, so public or charter is the most likely option, really. As "gifted program survivors" though, we're keeping our eye out for other options, because we have an agreement that school should never be something Acorn dreads, and if there's ever a point where things aren't working for him, we will make sure things change to something more reasonable. But I love the idea of him being able to walk/bike to school.

One evening last week, since the weather was nice and I needed some exercise to burn off a particularly mood-challenged day, Acorn and I walked (well, I walked and he rode in the stroller) to the park so he could explore a bit, swing on the swings, and maybe experience some interaction with people. Coincidentally, it was kindergarten orientation night at the school - with kindergarteners and their parents swarming the building, practicing getting on and off the bus, and getting acquainted with the school building.

Interestingly, as we started for home, we caught the tail end of things, as families got in their cars to leave. We watched numerous families park their cars along our route home - many of them within a quarter mile of the school. How crazy is it to drive to something that's a 5 minute walk from your house?

I have been wanting to find ways to do more of our local shopping on foot or on bike - most of our errands are within 2 miles of our house. I'd been thinking that whiile I'm not sure I'd let Acorn walk by himself when he's 5 or 6, that maybe we could team up with other neighborhood families so that kids could walk together, or maybe with one chaperone. But if the people who live right there, where they could stand in the front yard and watch their kid all the way to the door of the school, aren't walking, is there really any hope for that?

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