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Credit: Evan Gatehouse

By the time Maia started kindergarten, she'd already walked much of the city—so the journey to and from school was nothing new


One of the reasons we live in an urban neighbourhood is so we can avoid driving. Our condo is about 1.5 kilometres from Maia’s school and about 2 km from Evan’s work—and zero kilometres from my office (i.e., a desk in the living room). Distances we can easily cover by foot, bike or, in Maia’s case, unicycle.

 

If I had ever bothered to do the math before now, I would have discovered we’re using our own steam to travel about 2,000 km a year. A feat that saves us (using Revenue Canada’s rate of 45 cents per kilometre) about $900 per year in gas, and wear and tear, and keeps about 700 kg of CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere. Not to mention the daily trek is good for us.

 

We’ve been including Maia in our walks since she was tiny. Her stroller days were limited to her first three years; then we passed the wheeled contraption along and took her out to buy a pair of “rock’n walk’n shoes” (it’s never too early to instil a love of good shoes). By the time she started kindergarten she had already walked much of the city—so our daily journey to and from school was nothing new.

 

Unfortunately, Maia soon discovered her friends didn’t have to leave home a half-hour before the bell in order to hoof it to school. That’s when the whining started.

 

I’m a pretty creative parent—and I’m committed to my daily walk—so rather than pulling out the car keys I made the trip more exciting. We had treasure walks (what amazing things can we see on the way to school?) and storytelling walks (told separately or in tandem); we did spelling and math drills (Maia thinks these are fun, go figure…); we picked flowers and leaves and, in one memorable case, a poisonous mushroom. Maia eventually decided she felt sorry for her friends because for one wonderful hour a day it was just she and I, and our adventure, while her friends got nothing but a car ride. Then fall kicked in and it got cold, wet and miserable out.

 

It was dark and stormy out when we set off one recent morning. Maia’s hood was pulled up and her pants were tucked into her boots. We couldn’t hear each other over the wind, rain and whooshing of cars, so we walked silently, holding hands and trying to avoid the deepest puddles. Then Maia stopped and tugged my hand so I would lean down and listen to her, “I don’t think this is even remotely wonderful. Just so you know,” she said. Then she let go of my hand and stomped off.

 

I know this is the point where I’m supposed to write about the life changing moment that followed, the one that lead to an epiphany that resulted in our newfound love of walking in the rain. Except it didn’t happen. Maia was still annoyed with me when we got to school and wouldn’t let me help peel off her sodden coat. I turned around and walked home and was soaked by a passing car. I had to change to dry clothes before I could work.

 

At the end of the day, the rain was still falling and I debated driving to pick her up, but I didn’t. Instead we walked home in the heavy rain—but at least she held my hand.