This story does 1 of 2 things. It symbolizes every fear gnawing at parents trying to raise children in the 21st century.
Or it makes Westport the laughingstock of the country.
According to WestportNow.com, a 9-year-old girl was supposed to be picked up at 11 this morning following a swim lesson at the Y.
She wasn’t there. Her parents called the police, who “launched a massive hunt of the downtown area that involved multiple police and fire units.”
Shortly before 12:30, she arrived home (Ellery Lane, off Prospect Road near Cumberland Farms). She’d walked there from downtown.
I’m glad the story has a happy ending (though I would not want to be the girl at around 1 this afternoon).
But I wondered: Is this what we’ve come to? Is walking home now so unusual it turns the town upside down?
When I was 10 I walked from my High Point Road home (a half mile down, I might add) to my Rec basketball games at Green’s Farms School.
At 11 I walked all the way to Doubleday Field — on Riverside Avenue — for Little League tryouts.
It wasn’t that my parents wouldn’t have taken me; it was just something I wanted to do. Those were my games, my tryouts. I wanted to be independent, and I was.
Along the way, I learned a lot about my town — and myself. And I developed a lifelong joy of walking.
I know, I know. I was a boy; she’s a girl. My parents knew where I was going; hers did not. That was then, this is now.
Which means: What’s ahead? Decades from now, when today’s kids look back at their youth, will they grow nostalgic for the days when they were “dropped off” for swim lessons, and could be “picked up” later? Will the concept of Saturday morning at the Y seem incredibly wild and free?
Or will the pendulum swing the other way? Perhaps we’ll be in such an oil-related bind, we’ll all have to walk everywhere.
If so, one 9-year-old girl is off to a good start.