This is part 1 of a 2-part story of a frustrated mom and dad who can't believe how hard it is to allow their child to walk home from a weekly appointment. The dad writes:
Our 8-year-old daughter has an occupational therapy appointment once a week to help with minor sensory issues. The appointments are at the synagogue one block (530 feet door to door) from our home -- you need to cross a single one-way side street. However, before the practice will allow her to walk home on her own, they are requiring both parents to sign a release of liability (below). Their lawyers insisted that they need such a waiver. Perhaps they feel they are exposed to some liability in the current fear-driven atmosphere, but that atmosphere itself is beyond ridiculous. An 8-year-old walking home a few blocks in their own neighborhood should be a normal everyday occurrence, and if it were treated as such, no one would even think of asking about liability.
My wife adds as background: When we arranged for our daughter to go there, I specified that I loved the location since she could walk. So I went with her for the first few sessions and then told her to walk home. Last week was the third time it seemed to pose a problem.
The first time, the OT (occupational therapist) texted me that my daughter was ready to be picked up and I replied she'd walk, since we’re right around the corner. The OT drove her home and texted me saying that it was no problem for her to do it. I responded that that was nice of her, but that I wanted her to walk.
The next week, my daughter walked, but the OT texted to tell me that my daughter was uncomfortable doing this. I replied that I was at home -- very close -- and it was fine.
Last week (after 2 weeks of us missing appointments due to family commitments), I texted beforehand and said that she would be walking home. My daughter called and left a message (I missed the call), and then the OT called and to see if I was on my way. I said I wasn’t and that my daughter could walk home. The OT drove her home again and texted to me to apologize but she did it because my daughter “didn’t seem comfortable” walking. Gee, I wonder why my kid had gotten the message that it wasn’t safe for her to walk 500 feet!
I talked it over with my daughter, and she said that she didn’t feel comfortable because the other parents don’t let their kids walk anywhere and because the OT was so concerned.
I explained that we’re Israeli.
Different cultures have different child-rearing practices, which is one reason travel can really help American parents relax. "Wow -- 5-year-olds in Japan are riding the subway by themselves!"
Other cultures don't turn one-block walks into terrifying ordeals -- or legal landmines.
Our culture? Tune in for Wednesday for Part 2: The Waiver.