Friday, 22 March 2013

They grow up so fast

Life has been pretty crazy the past four weeks for the Velo Family. Travel to Saskatoon and Edmonton for work left me longing to return home to my city, my routine and my wonderful family who managed to cope without me quite well. Returning home I was launched into even more work in Vancouver, but thankfully I was able to hop back on my bike as the wet Winter weather started to give way to sunnier Spring days. As you have likely noticed, between work and trying to spend time with my family, my writing for this blog has suffered. So now that I have a moment to sit down and put some thoughts on paper, so to speak, I am inspired to talk about my kids and how they keep changing every day, growing more and more aware and responsible, something that I've become increasingly aware of after being away and working. 

Before leaving for Edmonton a couple weeks back, I had a pretty epic weekend with my family (see It doesn't get much better). In all the excitement of the weekend, I didn't get to talk about a pretty big milestone that just kind of happened on the way to meeting up with my husband on the Sunday. On the way, I realized my daughter was attempting to lead us, so I decided to let her, just to see how well she really does know her way. I was amazed with what I experienced!

My little girl just absorbing on the bus
to swimming lessons
As we left our street, I told her where we were going. As children have no concept of street names, save their own, I explained we were going to the store on the bike route that has the candy pop. To us adults, that translates to Cream Soda at Union Market in Strathcona. Once we crossed Commercial Drive on 10th Avenue, I let her get in front of me and take the lead. And lead she did. She knew exactly where and when to turn, and even practiced her hand signals 99% of the time. She slowed to check for oncoming cars and bikes at traffic circles, kept three feet from the parked cars, and only asked me for help once. I was incredibly proud to know that she had been paying attention this whole time, and really is starting to get a real grasp of her surroundings and getting from point A to point B.

Our munchkins walking confidently
in their "hood"
While I was away travelling, my in-laws came for a visit, helping out with the kids while my husband worked during the day. Each day they walked my daughter to school, and then spent the day entertaining my son until pick up. What they found out was that even he, at only four years old, knows his neighbourhood pretty darn well. He took them to Trout Lake, showing them around our nearest park and playground. They walked up Commercial Drive, with Etienne taking them to all his favourite places, including Grandview Park, Fratelli's Bakery, and, of course, a visit to First Ravioli Store to visit with "Auntie Tina", the wonderful Italian lady that works there and is infamous with my children for offering them free cookies. Once again, I am astounded at how much my children truly have been absorbing their surroundings with all the time they spend on foot or on bike travelling throughout the various neighbourhoods of Vancouver.

I think it's so important that children learn how to get around in their neighbourhood by modes other than a private vehicle. Not only do they more readily recognize the way home in case they're lost, but it prepares them for the eventual independence of travelling on their own when they get older. It is no secret that most children in today's society are transported mainly by private automobiles. Whether to school, to their extra curricular activities or to do the weekly shop, these trips all have one thing in common - a child sitting in the back seat of a car with no real perception of where it is they are going. By walking, biking or taking public transit, children are exposed to more of their natural surroundings, and get a truer sense of the distances travelled, the best and/or safest routes, and most importantly, they gain the confidence to travel independently. 

They're a couple of confident little rascals!
In the next year or two, I plan on starting to let my daughter walk to school on her own. Eventually, that will also mean walking with her younger brother. What I have learned with these recent revelations regarding my children's navigational skills is that when the time comes, they will be ready. They are already developing the confidence to walk and bike in our neighbourhood, and those that we frequent regularly. It really does put my mind at ease, because, after all, there will come a time when my kids will want to go out with their friends to the mall or to hang out, and won't want us to walk them there. On that day, I will be reassured that we have been doing the very best to prepare them for this moment. And for the time being, maybe it's time I start letting them lead the way for all our escapades... so long as it isn't always to the nearest playground!

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