How Independent is Your Nine Year Old?
I've been contemplating writing about that horrific story of the little nine year old Hasidic boy who was abducted by a deranged man in his community and senselessly murdered.
What hit too close to home for me was that the child was nine - the same age my son is now. The boy, who was doted upon by his protective parents, asked them to give him the chance to walk home from day camp by himself for the first time in his young life. His parents agreed and his mother showed him the way before letting him do it by himself. Unfortunately, when the boy became disoriented and asked for directions, his innocence was taken away by an unstable man who abducted and killed him and then mutilated his body so that no one would find evidence of his disappearance.
When I think back to my own childhood, I remember walking home from school in the fourth grade and letting myself into my home while my parents were at work. I was a total latch key kid. In my situation, I knew exactly where I was going, traversed the route hundreds of times and oftentimes walked with friends back to my home. In the case of my nine year old, I am ultra protective and would never dream of letting him walk alone without an adult or a friend by his side. In fact, just this year, we gave our 12 year old daughter a cell phone and she now knows that the moment she leaves our house and reaches the bus stop, she must stop whatever she's doing and call us to let us know she's arrived safely.