Life in the Carpool Lane

It's been three years since I traded my full-time, in-the-office job for 100 percent flexible hours working from home. I make about the same amount in terms of salary, and my family transitioned to my husband's benefits coverage. The big benefit to our family is that I'm far more available to my kids, ages 10, 8 and 5.

Although I'm happy with my work/life balance these days, every few months I feel the pull of the office and wonder when it will be time to return. Here's what dumbfounds me: Between our three kids we've got three soccer teams, three basketball teams, one pediatric practice and two speech/reading therapists. Thank God our kids are in the same school these days or I might not be able to work at all.

I could say "no" to my kids more often. But good health, physical exercise and competence in reading and talking seem like pretty important life skills to me. My children are too young to take the bus or subway alone (although that day is coming soon). And delegating driving around a crowded metropolis where cellphone wielding lunatics routinely ignore stop signs and red lights doesn't seem like good parenting to me. (Also, I'm not so sure I could pay anyone enough to do the amount of chauffeuring I do out of motherly love.)

The Washington Post Home section recently tackled the same issue in Life in the Carpool Lane about the new back-to-school ritual: Parents huddled together plotting carpools, schedules, e-mail lists and phone trees to juggle our children's schedules. The article includes two helpful sidebars on "Carpool Etiquette" and "The Who, What and How of Carpooling."

How do you handle the juggling act of managing your kids' after-school activities? Have you re-arranged your professional life to tackle this aspect of work/life balance? Any tricks, solutions or technology tools that have worked for your family?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 22, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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first!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 7:34 AM

"we've got three soccer teams, three basketball teams, one pediatric practice and two speech/reading therapists."

Leslie, I expect you and the kids will be talking with therapists for the rest of your lives.

Posted by: Mako | August 22, 2007 7:56 AM

Everyone gets out of my way where ever I swim. It is like I have a flashing blue light or something!

Posted by: nonamehere | August 22, 2007 7:56 AM

That would be the other Mako who said that about Leslie, not this Mako.

Posted by: nonamehere | August 22, 2007 8:00 AM

Who is the editor of the Style section of the WaPo?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 8:03 AM

Hillary, who cares?

Posted by: Mako | August 22, 2007 8:10 AM

I am so happy for you pATRICK First!

(Is this like the America First crowd from the 1930's?)

Posted by: nonamehere | August 22, 2007 8:11 AM

Hillary, who cares?


I have a question for the Style editor.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 8:14 AM

So, what's your question?

Posted by: Mako | August 22, 2007 8:18 AM

I don't think Leslie's kids sound overbooked. Soccer's one season, basketball's another. What's the big deal?

I'm really interested in today's conversation. I can't really speak from experience here because my two youngest are so little and by the time my stepdaughter lived with us, she could drive herself to her sports/activities. But this fall we'll have one kid in soccer and one in a dance class overlapping every Saturday, so it means Mom gets one and Dad gets the other. Two kids in swim lessons, too, which for me gets the same priority as a doctor's appointment. Swimming in our family is not an optional skill.

Are there a lot of moms and dads dealing with traveling teams? I've got friends who get up at an ungodly hour on Saturdays to get her boys to hockey, friends whose kids can be up to 3 hours away to play league soccer not associated with a school. I didn't know anyone on a traveling team as a kid outside of jv and varsity sports for the high school. Is this a trend, and is it burgeoning or dying? :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 8:30 AM

Each of my kids is allowed to have only one activity at a time. They spend the rest of their afternoons running around the neighborhood with friends-getting plenty of fresh air and exercise. My kids are in 3 different schools this year and we do have a carpool for one, but my oldest walks and I drive the two littlest myself. It's really not so bad

Posted by: michelewilson | August 22, 2007 8:33 AM

Each of my kids is allowed to have only one activity at a time. They spend the rest of their afternoons running around the neighborhood with friends-getting plenty of fresh air and exercise. My kids are in 3 different schools this year and we do have a carpool for one, but my oldest walks and I drive the two littlest myself. It's really not so bad

Posted by: michelewilson | August 22, 2007 8:33 AM

"It's been three years since I traded my full-time, in-the-office job for 100 percent flexible hours working from home. , , , The big benefit to our family is that I'm far more available to my kids, ages 10, 8 and 5. . . .our kids are in the same school . . ."

Posted by Leslie Morgan Steiner '87 | August 22, 2007; 7:00 AM ET |

What worked for us was a seven-seat Dodge Caravan. This van is big enough to carry our three children -- who were aged 5, 3 and 1 month when the oldest started kindergarten -- as well as three others from the neighborhood who all went to the same school, just like Leslie's children. It helped that the school, which all of them attended from kindergarten through high school, was a seven-minute drive from our home, which made things easier when they had basketball games or Thursday study sessions in the evenings. These days, there is only one child left who does not yet have his driver's license. I drop him off at school around 6:30 AM on my way to work. His mother picks him up in the Dodge Caravan at 10:30 PM to come home for the night.

"Have you re-arranged your professional life to tackle this aspect of work/life balance? " (Leslie)

Our family, just like Leslie's, benefited greatly by having a mother who stayed home and was "far more available" to our kids than if she had been out laying track for the railroad or driving an eighteen-wheeler all day or visiting clients to adjust fire-insurance losses. I did not have to re-arrange my professional life at all. Of course, YMMV.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 22, 2007 8:39 AM

Wait, Matt, didn't we decide on this blog that YMMV means "You make me vomit?" :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 8:51 AM

Hey, don't be dissing Mommy Vans! If we did not have Mommy Vans, we could never have the Creepy Van (tm) c/w HG.

Posted by: Fred | August 22, 2007 8:57 AM

Four kids, four schools. Of course, starting tomorrow one of them is college, so that's a little easier.

You just have to plan out the logistics. Carpools, yes - especially for DS at his high school, which is quite a drive.

Afterschool/weekend activities are limited to one major one per child, plus other minor ones. "Major" means a couple of times per week without flexibility; "minor" means doesn't take up too much time and can be missed if necessary.

The big drawback is that it's very rare that DW and I are both at the same activity - we divide up who goes where. I usually get the sports (because I seem to get talked into coaching them all); she gets the music-related activities (because I can't carry a tune in a basket).

WorkingMomX, travel sports seem to be on the upswing. Our softball program is cutting down on the in-house/recreational program and expanding the number of travel teams. The philosophy seems to be that if you want to play on a team in high school you have to make the commitment. I do know of kids playing on travel teams in three different sports; that's a little more of a commitment than I'm willing to let my kids make.

And here's to the Mommy Van/Daddy Van - ours is an 8-passenger model so we can haul other kids in the carpool.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 22, 2007 9:07 AM

Question for the carpooling parents out there ... does anyone make their kids ride the school provided buses to get to school anymore?

And Leslie, 10 and 8 year olds are certainly old enough to ride buses by themselves.

Posted by: sknyluv | August 22, 2007 9:14 AM

"How do you handle the juggling act of managing your kids' after-school activities?"

First, we chose a neighborhood where everything doesn't require getting into a car. This was a dealbreaker for me (my husband didn't get it at the time, but he does now). Even if I were at home all day, I still wouldn't want to spend every afternoon chauffeuring someone somewhere. We're 1/2 mile from both the elementary and high school (and while my daughter is in Montessori school, my son is in daycare 1/2 mile away from her, so it's still only one trip).

Second, we don't do much scheduled weekday stuff. We've tried, and it's just too hectic. So gymnastics and swimming are on the weekend. We also only do one thing at a time (swimming doesn't count, since mommy and daddy both require that).

I imagine things will get more complex when they get older. When I was growing up, it used to be that by the time you were ready to play after-school sports, you were also old enough to get yourself there and back. But now it seems like kids have to start at 6,7,8 if they even want a chance to play in high school -- and you can't just tell your 7-yr-old to ride her bike to soccer practice.

So I don't know what we'll do, but I suspect it'll be a balancing act, like everything else. I'm not going to sign my kids up for a lot of after-school stuff just because everyone else is doing it -- I'm a big believer in unstructured time and learning to entertain yourself, so if they're happy with that, then that's fine by me. But if they really really really get into something in particular, then I want them to have that opportunity. So if that happens, we'll try to shift our work schedules around, maybe ask my mom to help a bit, since she already picks them up 1-2x/week.

Posted by: laura33 | August 22, 2007 9:15 AM

I've found that getting to know the parents of my kids friends is really helpful. Ditto for teammates. That way if someone is really behind schedule (or caught in some hideous road closure), it's still possible for the kids to get to their practices.

I practice reciprocity, naturally. And when I can't, I make a point of bribing other parents with goodies from The Candy Bar (in Mount Airy, MD--help a neat little new business thrive!). The white birch beer, vanilla cream and orange cream sodas, in particular, buy a lot of parental good will. So do the espresso cordials!

The kids do one sport per season. I love it when they both do the same sport AND have practices at the same time, or at least nearby. You don't always get that lucky though.

My rule is not to have so many things scheduled that one parent can't handle them all. Not saying the other parent shouldn't, but that way you know you won't drown in a Sea of Committments. Yours.

I chatted with a gentlemen at the pump a few weeks ago. He has a Jetta diesel station wagon that gets 50mpg! I WANT it. I can envision kids, dogs and stuff in that easily. I wonder if I could get a privacy divider too? THAT would make it a family vehicle.

"What's that I hear? The kids trying to kill on another? Hmm, no blood shed, I think I'll raise the glass and let them work things out." Swigs birch beer from the glass bottle. Aah.

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 22, 2007 9:22 AM

I hate it when I misspell words. I should've previewed that post. It's like nails on chalkboard. Is there some trick to going back and editing?

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 22, 2007 9:24 AM

"And Leslie, 10 and 8 year olds are certainly old enough to ride buses by themselves"

Buses in the city? No way, I am with you Leslie. We have to drive everywhere so I don't have this problem. My daughter is only in soccer and only has it once a week. I think what is really hard about all the activities is preparing a healthy meal for everyone.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 9:27 AM

School buses--yes! My daughter, who will be in first grade this Fall, loved to ride the bus with her friends when she started Kindergarten. Now, it helps that ours is the last stop before her school less than 1/4 mile away. I think riding the bus is teaching her independence and gives her some social time with friends, waiting on the playground by the bus stop and on the bus itself.

Purposely chosen location near school--we "traded in" a larger home further away for a smaller one w/in walking distance when the weather is nice--and yes, when my work schedule allows--a short bus trip away, and the kiss-n-ride drop off is also on my route to work.

As for balancing after-school activities, I've given my daughter a choice of one activity per school term and she understands there are parameters we need to live by: I will leave work early 1x/week for an afterschool activity, but weekends are fair game; the cost can't be prohibitive (no private riding lessons, for example), etc.

Posted by: bloomsday_37 | August 22, 2007 9:31 AM

sknyluv

We live just outside the school bus service zone. In other words, we live too close to school so bus service is not provided for us.

Beyond that, riding the school bus isn't what it used to be 20 or 30 years ago. There is a lot of nastiness on the bus that the bus drivers seem unwilling or unable to stop. The school boards also seem unable or unwilling to do much about it also. There are many reasons for this, one being that the cost of transporation is so expensive that kids of all ages are riding the same bus at the same time.

Posted by: Fred | August 22, 2007 9:32 AM

Scarry, I'm with you on the meal preparation. Leslie, I wish there was some way we could dedicate a day to recipe exchange for meals that are easy to prepare and healthy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 9:35 AM

sknyluv

Yes, our kids all rode school buses. The only exceptions were oldest DD, who drove the 16-year old Ford Escort (RIP) the two miles to high school during her senior year; and DS, who goes to a private high school that's 15 miles away and thus carpools.

Once they get past about second grade, they tend to hate the school bus because it's crowded, noisy, and kids don't always behave. And bus drivers either demand assigned seats and absolute silence, or they don't care about what's happening and thus let all sorts of behavior go on (yes, including sexual activity on the high school bus).

Middle DD's biggest thrill last year as a high school freshman was that she didn't have to ride the bus because big sister drove her. Now that big sis is in college and the car's dead, anyway, she's back on the school bus. We're the first stop in the morning so the bus comes at 6:35 am, and gets her to school 40 minutes later. She's so not looking forward to that.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 22, 2007 9:39 AM

"Leslie, I wish there was some way we could dedicate a day to recipe exchange for meals that are easy to prepare and healthy."

Oow! Yes, please! A recipe swap!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 9:39 AM

WorkingMomX

We had chicken on the grill yesterday. It was good and fast. THen I just made some green beans and rolls. Fred is so right about the school bus.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 9:42 AM

Son is in kindergarten, no bus in the AM, but bus in the afternoon - so carpooling in the morning may happen eventually. I'm happy that since there's a kindergarten annex, he's onlyon the bus with other kids his age.

As for activities, I think it will eventually be one during hte week and one on weekends. We're Jewish, but not overly observant, however, I would like to not have activities scheduled on Saturdays - he has to attend some services anyway. So I started a Sunday soccer league and hope to do that for tball in the spring. I wille ventually sign him up for something during the week, but with the adjustment to kindergarten, it won't be soon.

In any event, if I had to spend the day in the car, I would move. When I was in third grade I was walking to and from school by myself (before that, it was with a sister). Mom wanted no part of that (and she never worked). People seem to be quite overprotective of allowing their kids to do for themselves - it's weird to me. Of course, part of the problem these days is that most elementary schools can't be walked to - what a shame.

All my activities, save for skating, which I didn't do long, I could walk to - theater, dance, etc. Sports, had I done any, would have been with the school. I am not going to be driving several hours each way, however for traveling stuff. That's insane. Yes, I had a friend in high school who was training for the olympics, so she was up at 5 or so in the AM, and her mom took her before school and she went after school to train (she ended up going to trials, but not olympics, but got a college scholarship out of it). My SIL had a similar training schedule with the gymnastics (won her entrance to ivy league school). BUT - that typically came from the kids having the desire. I am pretty sure there aren't *that* many kids out there with olympic ambitions....

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 9:46 AM

School bus! As soon as she's old enough for public school, she is riding Big Yellow. Plus, no more than one activity at a time that requires driving.

Posted by: shandavegh | August 22, 2007 9:56 AM

I would love the recipe swap. I've not got about 10 easy meals in the rotation, and it's not chicken fingers and mac-n-cheese! Woo hoo.

hillary- Obviously, you're been sarcastic about the recipe swap. Some of us pride ourselves on our cooking ability. Some people eat out of a cardboard box. Perhaps you think cooking is below you. Maybe you only eat out and weigh 300 pounds. Or maybe you don't eat at all and only drink and smoke cigarettes. Cooking is a lost art for most families. Mine eats better than most.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 9:56 AM

atb

"hillary- Obviously, you're been sarcastic about the recipe swap."

Is there a law against sarcasm? You're pretty defensive about a lack of interest in a topic.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 10:12 AM

Leslie wrote: "My children are too young to take the bus or subway alone"

Hogwash! Your oldest is 10 already, and unless s/he has a learning disability, a child that age IS old enough to know how to ride the bus or subway alone. (I know this because I often had to, and I knew plenty of other urban kids who did, too).

It's very easy, Leslie. You just take your child on a couple of practice runs beforehand, making sure you take time to answer all of his/her questions about paying the fare, where to get on/off, and showing your child what route to walk to/from the stop, etc., etc. Re subway riding, make sure your child knows not to hesitate to go to the information/help desk if there are any problems.

And, yes, Leslie, your 10-year-old is old enough to shepherd younger siblings on bus or subway rides.

I suspect some parents' aversion to letting their children ride public transit alone really has more to do with social-class snobbery than authentic concerns.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:18 AM

I've been in a ballet carpool for years now with two daughters, and this year I'm not carpooling for one daughter because of carpool issues. There are some unwritten rules that weren't mentioned in the article:

1) Be on time and if you are running late, call.
2) When dropping off children at home, wait until the child is actually going into the home before pulling away. There's no good reason to drop a child off on the corner at night.
3) If you have issues with the schedule, don't wait until the year is over to complain to everyone.
4) Save your last minute changes for real emergencies.

Posted by: missyb1 | August 22, 2007 10:24 AM

Clarification: When I wrote about buses (10:18 AM), I was referring to public transit buses (student discount fare with ID), not school buses, which our district didn't have except for school field trips.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:25 AM

Hillary, did you used to have a different name here on the "On Balance" blog? I noticed that you recently mentioned a veteran who hasn't posted (at least under his regular name) for some time.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:28 AM

Once I hit middle school, the rule was that I had to find my own carpool or I couldn't participate. True, I didn't do sports, but this held true for school plays, newspaper, etc, until my senior year when the school allowed us to drive ourselves.

Why not involve the kids in setting up carpools????

I do agree about school buses being iffy....when I was 12 (1987....) I was beaten up on the school bus. In an affluent residential suburban neighborhood (in York, PA). In the third seat back. Full view of the driver, who never reacted.

Posted by: marseille | August 22, 2007 10:28 AM

It wasn't defensive, just dismissive. As in, most of your comments can be easily dismissed, as they have no added value, other than sarcasm. No, go ahead, call me a cheerleader.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 10:29 AM

OK to ride city bus at the age of 10? ...and supervise younger siblings too?

Sorry, If it is not ok to have children babysit others before the age of twelve. I can't see it.

My kids ride the chees crates to school but usually walk home since the schools are not that far away.

Posted by: btpduc748 | August 22, 2007 10:32 AM

I suspect some parents' aversion to letting their children ride public transit alone really has more to do with social-class snobbery than authentic concerns.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:18 AM

Maybe some aversion is based on this. OTOH, there are plenty of authentic concerns about personal safety when riding public transit. All cities and public transit systems are not alike. One approach does not fit all. In our area, public transit is not well-developed, there are no shelters - it's not even clear where to stand safely and wait for the bus. NO kids, of any socioeconomic class, ride public transit here. In the balance between safety and independence, everyone has to make the best call, but 15 would be the youngest I'd permit my kids to ride public transit without an adult. If I was in the District, based on my observations of ambience and crime around bus stops, I would permit my younger teen to ride the Metro, but still wouldn't have her on a city bus alone.

What sense does it make to check the sex offender registry to determine whether known pedophiles live in the neighborhood only to put your 10 year old on a city bus by himself?

Posted by: gcoward | August 22, 2007 10:40 AM

yes, ride city bus at age 10. What is really the big deal? I just don't understand. If the kid can read, he/she can see which bus to take, typically, if they're riding the bus a lot - they would get a pass (in NYC, there's no bus system for schools - all school children get free passes for busses/subways).
If they know where they live - what's the big deal? My 5 YO knows where he lives, so hopefully, the 10 YO knows. If not, there are bigger issues.

My sister, four years older, was responsible for walking me to and from school in first and second grades. So I was 6/7 she was 10/11. What is the big deal? She was going anyway. What is up with not giving our kids responsibilities? They can dress like they're grown ups but g-d forbid we give them any responsibility! What, do you want your kids living with you when they're 30?
It used to be that families consisted of 8 or more kids. Everyone had to help out. Why is thatsuch a bad thing?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 10:40 AM

mehitabel

Meow. I've been here since the first week.

atb
"It wasn't defensive, just dismissive. As in, most of your comments can be easily dismissed, as they have no added value, other than sarcasm. No, go ahead, call me a cheerleader."

It was a fairly long statement to be dismissive. I anxiously await the ADDED VALUE of your comments. Rah!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 10:45 AM

Posted by: gcoward | August 22, 2007 10:40 AM
Hate to disagree with the pussycat, but DITTO.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 10:49 AM

gcoward and atlmom1234, although seemingly contradictory, both make good points.

For children growing up in urban areas with well-established public transit systems, riding the bus or subway alone by age 10 is a reasonable solution to some transportation challenges.

In less-populated regions or areas without established bus-stops or even safe spots to stand while waiting, or if the service is infrequent, legitimate concerns can arise, however.

The parent has to decide what's best for the child, balancing safety concerns with the need

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:52 AM

gcoward and atlmom1234, although seemingly contradictory, both make good points.

For children growing up in urban areas with well-established public transit systems, riding the bus or subway alone by age 10 is a reasonable solution to some transportation challenges.

In less-populated regions or areas without established bus-stops or even safe spots to stand while waiting, or if the service is infrequent, legitimate concerns can arise, however.

The parent has to decide what's best for the child, balancing safety concerns with the need to teach the child self-reliance and independence as age-appropriate.

(Oops, end of message got truncated on the first "submit").

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:53 AM

Posted by: hillary | August 22, 2007 10:45 AM
The mystery deepens, why would hillary not use or tell her former name?

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 10:54 AM

mehitabel

No way in hell would I let my kids ride public transportation in New Orleans. People have been literally murdered on it in the past.

Whene we were in Wash D.C. a couple weeks ago, we rode the Metro everywhere but that public transit system is much more developed than in other cities that I have been in.

Posted by: Fred | August 22, 2007 10:54 AM

Hillary, what did your name used to be? Mine was catlady.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:54 AM

Maybe I'm naieve, but i dont understand how the kids are too young for riding the bus. Is she talking about METRO or just the regular school bus?

I know several mothers who drop their kids off at school although there is a perfectly fine school bus that comes into the neighborhood. This has always puzzled me.

Posted by: deena1946 | August 22, 2007 10:54 AM

mehitabel: Of course, I wouldn't argue that with you at all.

And, clearly, the world is a different place than when my mom was taking the subway in NYC all hours of the day and night (and she lived inthe bronx, not manhattan, so that was a long ride). Of course, the subway NOW is more safe than it was when I was in high school. And yet, I took it quite a bit (lived on LI).

But, I get really tired of parents complaining about stuff and then you ask them questions and it's really that they don't want th ekids to grwo up, not that the kids aren't capable. We chose where we live BECAUSE you can walk places. If I had to live int he suburbs where I had to drive everywhere (and let me tell you, in Atlanta, you pretty much need a car) and it would take me an hour to get milk, I'd shoot myself.
When my kids are older, and they want to do stuff, they will be required to have a plan before we sign up for activities, whether it's that we carpool, or they can walk (really - they could walk to many activities) or bike or whatever. Even if I were a SAHM, I wouldn't be in my car all the time. I hate hte car as it is, I wouldn't want to spend more time in it.

My mom was SAHM, rarely home after school - we all had to find our own ways around. And I dont' think that was an issue when we bought our house, my parents didn't think about that aspect much, I'm sure. But we definitely thought about it when we bought our house, I assure you.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 10:58 AM

Question for pATRICK and gcoward,

At what ages WOULD you let your children ride public transit alone in your regions of the country (since neither of you is in the DC area)? What instructions would you give them in order to stay safe and feel confident? Would you feel differently if you lived in the DC area?

As Fred rightly points out (10:54 AM), one region might be much safer and better-functioning than another.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:59 AM

I suspect some parents' aversion to letting their children ride public transit alone really has more to do with social-class snobbery than authentic concerns.

Actually, mine comes from my own experince on the metro and the buses. I seem to attract all the freaks, like drunk guy who needs a ride, or sit to close to me person. I really just don't think it would be safe for a kid to ride the subway at 10. Who would step in if someone started messing with them or grabbed them. I have to say this and if any of you work for metro, then I am sorry, but my experince with the metro people was, "you are on your own." I also never really saw a lot of small children on the metro either.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 11:00 AM

May I bring a different cultural perspective? In France where I come from, I know of very few families, if at all, who subscribe to the American way regarding afterschool activities. Kids there do things after school, but not to the extent they do here in the US, and parents are not solicited so much as they are here. There is a lot less chauffeuring back and forth of the kids. I have not really looked into the whys and hows. It is just something I have observed.

American parents have fallen into the illusion that cramming activities into their children lives is the only way to go. I beg to differ. I also cringe at the thought of all the CO2 being released with all these mommy vans driving around nonstop.

I also need to confess that I was one of those mommies too, until fairly recently when my daughters starting driving themselves. The societal pressure is just irresistible.

marguerite manteau-rao
mother, and green blogger
http://lamarguerite.wordpress.com
"The Daily Sins of a Green Girl Wannabe"

Posted by: lamarguerite | August 22, 2007 11:02 AM

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:59 AM
unfortunately NEVER. I would not wish public transport on my worst enemy in texas.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 11:03 AM

That article in the HOME section was a waste of paper. What was a bunch of whiny upper class mothers fretting about getting their kids to tony private schools doing in the Home section anyway. It belonged in Style or Metro. There are valid conerns about logistics in getting kids and grownups to where they need to be as we've let our infrastructure wither on the vine, be it public transportation, road capacity or even public school buses.

That would have been a more worthwhile disucssion than the private school moms.

Posted by: HokieAnnie | August 22, 2007 11:04 AM

in Atlanta, it really is a class issue. We have let our lack of mass transit persist because people don't want to ride on mass transit with 'those' people and think: why don't they just get a car (well, because everyone sitting in their car just doesn't really create a city many people want to live in, really).

In a few years, rather than driving my kids to their grandparents, d*** straight I would prefer to put one/two of them on the train and have grandma/grandpa pick them up. Why not? If they know where to get off, what's the big deal? They'll learn to be independent, etc. My in laws WILL HAVE A COW. The train goes to the airport yet my in laws won't take it, they'd rather sit in traffic driving people to and from the airport (like, their kids, each other, etc - I put my dad on the train, and it's no big deal - and he's from OUT OF TOWN) HUGE waste - of time, energy, money, whatever.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 11:05 AM

Would you feel differently if you lived in the DC area?

No, your murder rate and crime rate are through the roof.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 11:08 AM

Back to the school bus discussion for a minute: my biggest concern with having my children ride the school bus is that it doesn't have seat belts. I don't understand at all why this should be. I've heard all kinds of stories about how much it would cost, but it still seems like it would be money well spent to me. It would keep the kids safe and in their seats.

My concern about having them NOT ride the school bus is that I don't want my kids growing up so "pampered" and supervised every second of their lives. A lot of the great memories I have of my childhood do not feature my parents or anyone's parents in any way. They weren't around as much as we parents are around our own kids. It's a delicate balance.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 11:08 AM

My kids, 11, 9 and 7, are in different activities. Religious ed (all at the same time) is not an option. Oldest does karate, in which she has to attend at least 2 classes per week, but clases are offered 6 days a week, so we can be flexible. Middle and youngest both participate in travel cheerleading, on different teams, with different practice schedules. However the middle one has 3 kids on her team who live close, so we carpool for the 2 practices a week. The youngest has yet to get into a carpool, but we're working on it. The oldest also does Girl Scouts, and I'm a leader, so that's something we do together. And I changed my hours, so I work 6:30AM - 3PM so I can be home to shuttle the kids around. Hubby works 8:30-4, so he gets them up and ready for school, and when he gets home, he can help. He switched from a regular 9-5 job to being a teacher, so snow days and summer vacations are covered by him. His first full day of summer vacation I had so many phone calls about how our kids are driving him nuts, I had to calmly remind him how I was home with them for 8 years, and to deal with it. It got better, and I'm sure he's going to miss their time together when school starts again.

Posted by: pamsdds | August 22, 2007 11:09 AM

atlmom1234 wrote: "it's really that they don't want the kids to grwo up, not that the kids aren't capable."

I was thinking that exact same thing myself, atlmom1234, but didn't have the courage to say it!

With the proviso that we're discussing regions where public transit is plentiful and reasonably safe -- I suspect some parents just plain don't want to give up being helicopter parents hovering over their children rather than teaching them gradually how to develop independence and adult life-skills (of which riding mass transit is but one). Sooner or later, though, the kids' friends will start to make fun of them for being such a big baby that they still have to be chauffeured everywhere by mommy or daddy.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:09 AM

Our eldest (4) will walk to school with his father in the morning and I'll pick up at end of aftercare at the school. teh programs looks very good this year- nice mix of free time, foreign languages and crafts. Aftercare ends at 6 pm. I've heard some say that it should go to 6:30 but that seems too long to me.

Posted by: baby-work | August 22, 2007 11:13 AM

What is a speech/reading therapist? Is there something wrong with your kids?

On a somewhat related note, my mother taught me to read before I went to kindergarten. I wonder how many parents do that today. You know that time you spend watching television shows in the evening? How about spending it teaching your kid to read instead.

As for those who complain about driving their kids everywhere or restricting their activities because of it but won't let their kids ride public transportation, why don't you do something about it? Public transit is dangerous? Organize a group and FIX IT! Quit complaining and do something about the problem. This is America, not a dictatorship. Public transit exists for our USE. As someone else said, it is mostly snobbery, not danger, that prevents parents from making their kids use public transit.

And school buses? Don't have them? Well, maybe that's because you keep voting against levies that would raise the money to pay for a quality bus system.

Posted by: JoshHamilton | August 22, 2007 11:13 AM

"For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl."
-- The mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, quoted by H. P. Lovecraft in "The Festival."


The problem with 10-year-olds in D.C. walking to school or riding city buses is that degenerates and perverts who used to crawl in the shadows have learned to walk right out in broad daylight to grab innocent children. I walked to elementary school, rode city buses to junior high school, and rode the subway to high school. That was before the scavengers of sexual freedom waxed crafty to vex society and swelled monstrous to plague it. I know several families with eight or more children, and I can tell you that those children do not ride city buses to school.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 22, 2007 11:14 AM

yeah, mehitabel, my DH and I are already (well, since they were born!!!) having discussions about BUYING THEM A CAR when they get their licenses. I didn't get one, and he did. He's the oldest, and one of his responsibilities was to drive the younger ones around.

Well, where we live, one COULD take a public bus (we don't cause we have cars and parking's easy in the city). So, my thought is, way before they even think about cars, they will be able to figure out how to take a bus places, at least that's my goal. I mean, if they could ride their bike and/or take the bus, the world is their oyster. They feel independent, I've done my job, etc. I guess that's growing up near NYC, where I could just take a train to manhattan when I wanted and get around there once i was there. Easy as pie, independence at 14 - going to clubs in NYC by 16/17, etc. I mean, I know parents here who are freaked out by their kids taking a train to the big city with their friends for a concert - where the train is PACKED with many others who are there for hte same thing. It's not like it would be 2 AM (if it were open) and empty.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 11:16 AM

I'm wondering another thing...With all of these extracurricular activities, do your kids spend any time studying?

(You as in the general you.)

Posted by: JoshHamilton | August 22, 2007 11:16 AM

atlmom1234, It's not as thought we were thrown out into the streets to figure out for ourselves how to ride the bus to/from our destination. It doesn't take much time for a parent to teach a child how to take the bus to/from a specific destination -- a trial run or two suffices.

And for a train ride, once it's age-appropriate (note proviso!), I see nothing wrong with having the grandparents waiting for a grandchild at the other end of the trip. Along similar lines, didn't this blog have a column a few months ago re having children fly alone, and what precautions parents could take to make the trip successful?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:17 AM

JoshHamilton

Are you Josh Hamilton, the actor?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 11:17 AM

I know several mothers who drop their kids off at school although there is a perfectly fine school bus that comes into the neighborhood. This has always puzzled me.

Posted by: deena1946 | August 22, 2007 10:54 AM


Deena1946,

There is also the issue of the bus schedule. I know of some kids who ride the bus for 25-30 minutes each way for a school that is 6 minutes by car from the house.

Posted by: Fred | August 22, 2007 11:18 AM

Matt - you're FULL OF IT. There are NO more child abductions than there were when you were growing up. We just have news 24/7 now - so YOU KNOW ABOUT IT.
And let me tell you - years ago, people weren't put in jail as much as they are now for molesting kids - you know where they are because we just know MORE about EVERYTHING now. It's not that it's happening more - in fact, I believe it's happening LESS.

You're parents just didn't know as much about it. There were a couple of channels and that was IT

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 11:20 AM

"Back to the school bus discussion for a minute: my biggest concern with having my children ride the school bus is that it doesn't have seat belts. I don't understand at all why this should be."

_______________________

WorkingMomX: the biggest reason this doesn't concern me is that the kids wouldn't stay in them anyway.

I hate to sound cynical, but it's tough enough for us to keep our teenagers in the back seat of the van buckled in, and we have (a) informants in the form of younger siblings who will rat out someone who has surreptitiously unbuckled; (b) lots of potential punishment options for those who don't behave ("if that seatbelt isn't buckled you're not driving for A WEEK!"); and (c) years of experience to know when and how someone's going to unbuckle. And it still happens.

So, picture the middle school bus. Thirty kids get on. How many will buckle themselves into available seat belts? Two, maybe three? Those who qualify as the class "goody two shoes"? Then, what kind of peer pressure will they face from those who aren't buckled in? And especially when it's more fun to not be buckled - it's easier to turn around and interact with others.

How will the driver - the only adult on the bus, remember - enforce the "you must be buckled in" rules? Does she have to stop every time a kid hollers "Joe's not buckled"? Can you see the driver trying to say "If you don't all buckle your seat belts, I'm pulling this bus over to the side!"? That will make the bus an hour late (which may be what the kids want) and elicit howls of protest from parents and schools.

No, I harbor no illusions about how widely seat belts on school buses would be used. Call me cynical, but I'd rather not waste the money.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 22, 2007 11:20 AM

hillary- You've got to be kidding me. You chose the I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I strategy? I generally discuss the topic, with some drift. So far I've seen you contribute nothing but comments on cheerleaders and Collin Farrel and pATRICK.

On topic, kinda- I think 15 is a little old to first ride the bus. I started at 13, I believe, in Clearwater, FL, so I could get to the beach in the summer when my parents worked. I wasn't exactly in the normal demographic, but it worked. Once I was in HS, I had friends who drove. Not a much safer choice, huh? If your kid can ride his bike alone/with friends, he can take the public bus. It's probably safer than the school bus, sounds like! Anyone have their kids in school in DC? Those kids all take Metro.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 11:21 AM

"yes, ride city bus at age 10. What is really the big deal? "

I used to ride the metro by myself to work as a teenager, and I would never, ever let a 10-year old ride alone. With a few friends, sure, but alone? When I rode the metro, I had sexual advances made to me by creepy older men on a regular basis. Some of them were clearly drunk or on drugs. I would never let my DD ride the metro until she was big and mature enough to fight off such advances.

(And since I know I'll be getting comments- I was wearing business suits- I was interning downtown).

Posted by: floof | August 22, 2007 11:21 AM

I think it is a joke that you all think the metro is so safe even during the day. I have seen fist fights on the metro, shouting matches, drunks, (one who got slapped in the face for trying to kiss a man) and was almost knocked flat on a crowded train when I was six months pregnant.

Call me helicopter captain number if you want to, but I am not going to put the most precious thing to me on the metro when she is ten. When she is 15 maybe, but since I will never live in DC again, I really don't have to worry about it.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 11:22 AM

"The problem with 10-year-olds in D.C. walking to school or riding city buses is that degenerates and perverts who used to crawl in the shadows have learned to walk right out in broad daylight to grab innocent children."

The boogeyman is going to get me! Ahh! People watch too much television. Here's a clue - most children who are abducted are abducted by PEOPLE THEY KNOW. And if you are so afraid of "degenerates and perverts" on the streets, how about teaching your kid "don't talk to strangers?"

Posted by: JoshHamilton | August 22, 2007 11:22 AM

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 11:20 AM

let it go, or we will all just ruin a perfectly nice wednesday.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 11:24 AM

Josh, I'm not sure how much studying you think a 4 year old should be doing? the aftercare program for older children includes homework time and even provides community volunteers to help the children, but since 4 years olds don't generally get homework, we just let our son take the lead as he likes. He loves to write letters and will independently ask us for paper and pen so that he can do this as he pleases. Other kids in his class like to "read" to one another-- they aren't really reading, but they tell a story based on the pictures they see in the book. I think this is great for that age-- what do you think?

Posted by: baby-work | August 22, 2007 11:27 AM

This is starting to sound like the good old days at the OB.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 11:27 AM

floof- I assume you weren't 10 and interning in a suit. The good news is, most people on the Metro are like me. There is no way in hell we're going to let an adult harass a kid. On the other hand, I agree they should travel in small packs, 3-5. Safety in numbers and all.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 11:28 AM

Sheesh, even if you should encounter an annoying passenger on a bus or subway, you just get up and move to another seat. Or, worst case scenario, get off at the next stop and wait for the next bus/train. And here's a little secret: Most subway systems in this country have plain-clothes police on each train.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:29 AM

What did you name used to be in the "good old days" of this blog, Hillary?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:30 AM

I am NOT getting into the whole pedophile argument again. Do not direct any posts about it my way. It is a beautiful day here and I REFUSE to have it suck today. Besides it's my mother's birthday.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 11:32 AM

And here's a little secret: Most subway systems in this country have plain-clothes police on each train.


You've got to be kidding me?

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 11:32 AM

mehitabel

What did you name used to be in the "good old days" of this blog, Hillary?

Why are you asking?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 11:32 AM

"The good news is, most people on the Metro are like me. "

I was 15. And incidentally, no one EVER intervened, even when the guy who was obviously high out of his mind wouldn't leave me alone. All the men on the car either looked away or hid behind their newspapers and pretended not to see what was going on. It actually occured to me that he could rape me in the middle of the car and none of these guys would have done a thing. Most people do not get involved, unfortunately. Kids need to learn to handle situations like this on their own, but 10 years old rarely have the physical size or the life experience to know what to do.

Posted by: floof | August 22, 2007 11:33 AM

happy b-day to pATRICK's mom and hillary, I think I know who you are.

Anyway, I would let my ten year old ride the subway with collin farrel.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 11:34 AM

Hillary, why are you afraid to tell us your former name here?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:36 AM

Actually, Josh has a point, though he's making it in such a way that they'll focus on the emotion of the message and not the content. Child abduction in this country has either remained at the same level as 30 years ago or dropped (I actually think it's dropped). It's just that with the media the way it is, we hear about every one and it makes it seem like it's almost probable if we're not careful enough with our children. Culture of fear, that's what we live in/with.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 11:36 AM

hillary, I think I know who you are.


do tell

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 11:37 AM

floof- That's crazy. We've seen kids split off from their parents when the doors closed between them. A bunch of adults (strangers) got it straightened out. I always keep an eye out. Maybe women are more likely to involve themselves than men. Though, I have to say, I think a 15 year old is old enough to handle it. I don't think of a 15 year old as a child, but as a teenager. 10 is young for the Metro, but 12's not.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 11:37 AM

No, Irishgirl, I'm not kidding re plain-clothes subway police.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:37 AM

"The boogeyman is going to get me! Ahh! People watch too much television. Here's a clue - most children who are abducted are abducted by PEOPLE THEY KNOW. And if you are so afraid of "degenerates and perverts" on the streets, how about teaching your kid "don't talk to strangers?"

How about I teach my kids not to talk to "JoshHamilton". You little perv. Let me guess. You're on a first-name basis with Chris Hansen. My God Leslie, please tell me you have the ability to report persons such as this to the appropriate law-enforcement agency.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 11:38 AM

floof

That has been my experience on the metro too. When I first started riding, I would get on after a guy who did electrical work. He is the only person I ever encountered who would seem like he would help someone.

Oh well, you guys let your kids ride the bus/metro when you want and I will let my kids ride the pretend metro (there is none here) and bus when I want. That's why you are the parent of your kids and I am the parent of mine.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 11:39 AM

How about I teach my kids not to talk to "JoshHamilton".

That was funny. No offense Josh.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 11:42 AM

"Actually, Josh has a point, though he's making it in such a way that they'll focus on the emotion of the message and not the content. Child abduction in this country has either remained at the same level as 30 years ago or dropped (I actually think it's dropped)."

You "THINK" it has dropped?!?!?! Give me a break. Get some real statistics or go home to your parents' basement you pathetic loser. You know what I think. I think you were a key figure in the 9/11 attacks. Thank God I don't need evidence to "prove" my assertion, I only need to follow your logic.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 11:43 AM

You know what I think. I think you were a key figure in the 9/11 attacks.

Not funny.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 11:45 AM

"You know what I think. I think you were a key figure in the 9/11 attacks."

I really don't care if you think it was funny. Do you have evidence to back up WorkingMomX's assertion? Or do you agree she/he/it was just spewing crap??

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 11:49 AM

Scarry, I'm surprised you had trouble, as you don't have the tone of a victim, and creeps usually seek out the weak. I think you're going to raise your girl to be strong enough to let others know that if they start some crap, she's going to raise a stink. It does depend on the maturity and confidence of the kid and comfort of the parent. Truth be told, I'm more worried about something happening when they're out on their bikes alone where there may not be a good samaratan around.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 11:52 AM

atb wrote: "Truth be told, I'm more worried about something happening when they're out on their bikes alone where there may not be a good samaratan around."

Another alternative to parent transportation, school-buses and mass-transit -- and, as an added bonus, a "green" one a that! -- is the bicycle. One way to improve your child's safety is for him/her to ride with another bicyclist who lives nearby to group activites in which they both participate.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:59 AM

baba -- Amicule, deliciae, num is sum qui mentiar tibi?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 12:02 PM

BAN BABABOOEY666!!!! BAN BABABOOEY666!!! He is evil. He attacks other posters. He needs to be subjected to the WaPo rules. He adds NOTHING to the discussion. He is ALWAYS off-topic. Please Leslie, BAN HIM!!!!!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:03 PM

Damn, I am so sorry that I encouraged the blog idiot with my moment of hormonal laughter about the Josh post. It would have been funny to me at that moment if he would have said any of our names.

And, wow, an original joke about an Irish person, how did you ever think of it.

ATB, do you see now how I attract crazy people. Show them a little bit of attention and this is what you get.

Leslie don't take his post down on my account, I think the one directed to workingmomX is the one that needs to go.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 12:04 PM

WorkingMomX:

"baba -- Amicule, deliciae, num is sum qui mentiar tibi?"

Oooh. You so smart. You speak very smart language. Me no understand it. Me no match for you.

It's too bad you can't actually back up your original post you pathetic liar.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:05 PM

Please don't take down the post on my account. I am not easily offended, especially by someone so, shall we say, unmedicated.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 12:06 PM

What is going on?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 12:08 PM

"And, wow, an original joke about an Irish person, how did you ever think of it."

Actually, it reminded me of the hilarious Colin Quinn joke on SNL. "Scientists today discovered that having at least a drink a day was good for your health. Oh, wait a minute. That wasn't scientists. That was Irish people." Funny.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:08 PM

"I don't think of a 15 year old as a child, but as a teenager. 10 is young for the Metro, but 12's not. "

I think we actually agree here. At 15, I was able to handle the situation, but I know I could not have at 10. Possibly not even at 12.
I think you need to look at the individual child rather than just the age. A balsy, extroverted 12 year old might be fine alone on the metro, but a shy, frightened 13 year old might not be. It really depends on the kid. And, as the saying goes, you have to parent the child you have, not the child you want. You can do everything you can to get the extroverted kid and still end up with the shy one.

Basically, I won't let my daughter ride alone until I feel she can stand up for herself properly. She needs to be able to take care of herself, and not be in the position to have to depend on strangers who may not help her out.

Posted by: floof | August 22, 2007 12:09 PM

atlmom1234,
As someone who grew up in Atlanta, I'm honestly horrified at the idea that you would put your children on MARTA or the bus by themselves at an early age. Before you tell me that I'm a snob who thinks that I'm too good for the train, let me mention that my father took me and my brother around on MARTA on the weekends when I was as little as three. I think the train is great for getting places without a car.
That being said, my parents NEVER allowed me to ride on the train until I was in high school. Even after they deemed that I was at an age where I could ride the train, I was often harassed by people for money, or just because I was a cute young girl. There are NO police on those trains to protect your children, and plenty of people who wouldn't think twice before hurting them or taking their belongings or money. Compared to the NY subways, MARTA is far less safe. I hope you consider how people change around unaccompanied children before you put them on that train by themselves again.

Posted by: ehc4 | August 22, 2007 12:11 PM

"Please don't take down the post on my account. I am not easily offended, especially by someone so, shall we say, unmedicated."

Just curious, but why do you think I'm "unmedicated"? Maybe I'm just following in the footsteps of my hero Amy Winehouse and sucking back a cocktail of K, Yay, and E. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it???

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:11 PM

To read the posts on this site, you would think every stranger on the street is a sex-crazed pervert just waiting to grab the next child walking! TURN OFF THE TV AND GET OFF THE INTERNET FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. The fear mongerers are turning us into a group of worriers afraid of our own shadows!!

Posted by: abrianj | August 22, 2007 12:14 PM

"Leslie don't take his post down on my account ..."

And PLEASE stop with the "his". Do you just assume that anyone who is willing to tangle with the "cool" people on this blog must be a man? If not, what is it? Are you blinded to the fact that a woman might be argumentative? Honestly, what is up here?

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:15 PM

What is MARTA?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 12:16 PM

Hillary, We'll tell you what MARTA is if you'll tell us what your name used to be.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 12:19 PM

"To read the posts on this site, you would think every stranger on the street is a sex-crazed pervert just waiting to grab the next child walking!"

Do the math genius. It doesn't require that "every" stranger be a sex-crazed pervert. It only requires that about 1 in the 1,000 persons your child would encounter in a normal subway ride be off-the-mark. Please show some semblance of knowledge before posting. Thanks a bunch!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:20 PM

Moving A**holes Rapidly Thru Atlanta

Posted by: anonthistime | August 22, 2007 12:20 PM

"Please show some semblance of knowledge before posting. Thanks a bunch!"

And to pre-empt the coming attacks, let me do it for you. "Hey Baba Booey, why don't you take your own advice." Ha ha ha. Very original.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:22 PM

I can't speak about MARTA, but about the Metro, I can kind of see why people would hesitate to let their children ride it alone. I remember getting into commuter mode during my 90-minute trek to work where you don't look, REALLY LOOK, at anyone just out of habit. In the 12 years I rode the Metro, I never once saw anyone harassed as an individual, though the occasional drunk would treat a carful to a song or diatribe. I would certainly get involved if a young person was being harassed. I'm sorry that happened to you, floof.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 12:23 PM

"Moving A**holes Rapidly Thru Atlanta"

I proudly take the floor to nominate for Quote of the Day.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 12:28 PM

"Child abduction in this country has either remained at the same level as 30 years ago or dropped (I actually think it's dropped)."

WorkingMomX:

You are not going to get off easy. Not if I have anything to say about it. Where are your statistics??? Please back up your comment or take it back. This is the second time I have asked you for proof and you just ignore my requests. If you want to be taken seriously, pony up.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:29 PM

bababooey,

Go ride the public tranport in Atlanta, it is made for people like you!

Posted by: anonthistime | August 22, 2007 12:29 PM

Hillary, you have no standing to nominate for quote of the day until you tell us what your name used to be on this blog.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 12:30 PM

mehitabel

"Hillary, you have no standing to nominate for quote of the day until you tell us what your name used to be on this blog."

Meow. Who died and made you Head Cheerleader?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 12:33 PM

"bababooey,

Go ride the public tranport in Atlanta, it is made for people like you!"

Wow. A public transportation system made for mothers who care about their children, who refuse to believe the government just because it's the government, who loves to spar with those who have opposing viewpoints, and above all, who loves America. You're right anon. That system is for me. THANKS!!!!!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 12:34 PM

Leslie -- Some suggestions for future topics:

conflict resolution (between children)
when your teenager gets a driver's license
how to ask for a sabbatical
date nights

And I'd still like that recipe exchange!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 12:36 PM

Date nights! There's a topic I can dig!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 12:40 PM

"mehitabel

"Hillary, you have no standing to nominate for quote of the day until you tell us what your name used to be on this blog."

Meow. Who died and made you Head Cheerleader?"

Fred, who also issues the much-coveted QOTD.

Posted by: lundgrend | August 22, 2007 12:47 PM


"when your teenager gets a driver's license"

Since Leslie doesn't have teenagers, she will lead off with the next best thing-herself! There will be the usual gushing about the thrill and excitement of learning to drive. Oh, and how she overcame some tiny obstacle to obtain her license, but, by golly, she did it! Her father is a hero if he taught her to drive and/or funded her lessons/car. If he didn't, he's off the hook. Daddy was a busy lawyer, you know.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 12:52 PM

The best reason to carpool over sending kids on public transit is that kids that age need supervision.

The problems I had weren't ever with unknown perverts -- it was mostly kids who lived nearby!

They'd get to walking home and somebody would grab somebody else's hat and a scuffle would break out. Or they'd meet up with another bunch of kids and a backpack would get run off with. With iPods I'm sure it's even worse.

It doesn't make one bit of difference where you live either. The incident that brought this home to me was when the son of a well-known Washington Post columnist threw another kids' violin down the sewer!

Posted by: RedBird27 | August 22, 2007 1:01 PM

Wow bababooey666 is annoying! It's not "tangling with the 'cool' people" when you're just being annoying. And who's "cool"? What are you, 13? That goes for you too, hillary. Did you guys not get enough attention as kids? Why do you dominate the blog with garbage day after day?

Feel free to hurl the insults that you seem to cherish. I won't be replying to either of you.

On topic, I rode the city buses around Rockville and Wheaton and those areas starting at 13 or 14. The best advice I got was to not speak to strangers and to yell at the top of my lungs "Leave me alone!" if I felt threatened and to find an adult in uniform. I never had to use those techiniques, but I felt safer knowing that I had a plan. Even as an adult, when I'm on the Metro alone, I know the best course of action is to draw as much attention to the perv as possible. Like saying very loudly "I don't want to talk to you. You are obviously drunk. Please find another seat and bother someone else."

Posted by: Meesh | August 22, 2007 1:02 PM

bababooey- I believe the reason people think you're male is because you use the term 'pissant,' which seems to be pretty much exclusively used by teenaged boys. And I think aggressive ranting is associated more with men as well. You may get novels by Laura, but most of the women on this blog limit the USE OF CAPS. And most of the women actually spar with pATRICK, rather than hurl unintelligible nonsense at him in a hit-and-run approach. Hillary excluded, of course.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 1:02 PM

Sometimes folks on OB crack me up. I think we see ourselves as enlightened, yet we just toss around unresearched generalizations without a care.

Some are indicating that the world is more dangerous for children (vis crime perpetrated upon them) now than years ago.

NOT TRUE, assuming you mean recent history:

http://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/phenviro5.asp

It's really not hard to google this stuff. Why spread FUD (Fear, Uncertaintly and Doubt) instead?

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 22, 2007 1:05 PM

«What are you waiting for Irishgirl?? Too busy getting drunk to answer my question.»
«Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 11:56 AM »

«Amicule, deliciae, num is sum qui mentiar tibi?»
«Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 12:02 PM »

«-- The mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred, quoted by H. P. Lovecraft in "The Festival."»
«Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 22, 2007 11:14 AM »

Can we not all get along? Prejudiced language, like Irish getting drunk and Latin-lover seducers and Arabs getting mad, do you ever ask, who is the Arab mad at, and why? «Mentiar» mihi, I do not care if you lie to me in Latin because the truth, it will be found out anyway. Please though, let us not make mock of ethnic nationalities, this is the Washington Post, John P. Sousa, that great American, he dedicated a musical march to the Washington Post, he wrote it for his band, the US Marine Corps Band. This link, copy it to your browser, download MP3, play it. This music, while you listen to the Marine Band playing it, think of how all ethnic Americans, Arab Americans, Irish Americans, Luso-Americans like Sousa, all can be proud to be Americans, no one needs to make mock of where other fellow's ancestors came from. Yes, we can all get along.

http://www.usmc.mil/band/m_bandcd.nsf/2c27a15bfd3a6753852567d300486244/276f6cbabe39ec12852567d3004cb398?OpenDocument

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 22, 2007 1:07 PM

Meesh, I didn't even realize Baba had referred indirectly to me as one of the "cool" people on this blog until I read your post. Hey, thanks for the compliment, Baba! (Though I'm fairly certain it was unintentional.)

I'm wondering how many people on this blog have ever witnessed or been the victim of harassment on the metro.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 22, 2007 1:09 PM

Abu,

Do you spend any time with your kids in the carpool lane?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 1:10 PM

I've witnessed harassment on the metro.

I've witnessed harassment at my office.

I don't think of my office as being too dangerous for a 10-year old to be there unattended.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 22, 2007 1:12 PM

"most of the women on this blog limit the USE OF CAPS. And most of the women actually spar with pATRICK"

Just to be clear. By your impeccable logic, it's most likely that pATRICK is a woman.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:18 PM

"Feel free to hurl the insults that you seem to cherish. I won't be replying to either of you"

Meesh:

You just did reply. It's so sad that you're not willing to verbally spar with those who disagree with you or who might look a little different than you. Did you grow up in a gated community? Don't bother answering. We all know you did.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:21 PM

"Just to be clear. By your impeccable logic, it's most likely that pATRICK is a woman."

A virago! I knew it!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 1:22 PM

"Just to be clear. By your impeccable logic, it's most likely that pATRICK is a woman."

Wait a minute. I think I misunderstood. By your impeccable logic, pATRICK is the only person on this blog who is not a woman. Now I think I know why everyone else here is so shrill!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:23 PM

"bababooey- I believe the reason people think you're male is because you use the term 'pissant,' which seems to be pretty much exclusively used by teenaged boys. And I think aggressive ranting is associated more with men as well. You may get novels by Laura, but most of the women on this blog limit the USE OF CAPS. And most of the women actually spar with pATRICK, rather than hurl unintelligible nonsense at him in a hit-and-run approach. Hillary excluded, of course"

Hey atb:

Let me guess. Your official title is "Department of Homeland Security, Director of Racial Profiling".

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:34 PM

Good God you're an idiot. What are you even talking about? Wait, are you trying to be funny? Are you snickering as you type? OK, you're to be pitied. You are so lame. As a cheerleader, I'm apparently uniquely qualified to say so.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 1:37 PM

From "The Big Lebowski"

WALTER
"...am I wrong?"

DUDE
"No, you're not wrong--"

WALTER
"Am I wrong!"

DUDE
"You're not wrong, Walter, you're just an ass hole."

On the OB blog, Walter is played by bababooey666.

Posted by: nonamehere | August 22, 2007 1:43 PM

Oh atb:

I'm not snickering as I type. Did I hit too close to home? Are you stuck in a dead-end government job doing George W. Bush's bidding? Oh, atb. It will all get better. Don't feel sorry for yourself. Sure, you could have made better choices in your life but you were doing the best you could with what God gave you.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:45 PM

"On the OB blog, Walter is played by bababooey666."

And the part of Terry Schiavo is played by Mako!!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:47 PM

Gimme an L
Gimme an A
Gimme an M
Gimme an E
What's that spell?
Bababooey!
One more time!
Bababooey!

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 1:47 PM

"Gimme a G. Gimme an E. Gimme a D. What's that spell? The long-term goal of our favorite poster, atb!"

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:50 PM

Way to be original. You know what's not funny? Taking someone's joke and trying to change it a bit and pass it off as yours. Man, August in DC is slow...

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 1:53 PM

atb

"Way to be original. You know what's not funny? Taking someone's joke and trying to change it a bit and pass it off as yours. Man, August in DC is slow..."

Cheers on this blog go waay back.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 1:56 PM

bababooey, you are a joke and you add nothing of substance to the discussion. Why do you post? From which ward did you escape? No one is interested in anything you have to say because you are so abusive and confrontational. Why don't you go take a kick boxing class? Truly, and I'm directly this at hillary too, don't bother posting unless you havve something to contribute that's not an insult at someone else or just snark.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 1:57 PM

"Way to be original. You know what's not funny? Taking someone's joke and trying to change it a bit and pass it off as yours."

Dude/Dudette:

Hunh?? Just admit when you've been served. I've done it a few times. It strengthens the soul.

Anyway, you've grown tiresome atb. I'm going to go stand over there.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 1:57 PM

This topic has degenerated on the side into something somewhat interesting: people that think DC is the most dangerous city in the world v. those of us who actually live here....and would allow our kids on the metro.

Irishgirl, were you commuting in NE DC in the early '90s in the middle of the night? The metro experiences you describe are so foreign to me as to seem almost made up! I have commuted for years on the metro (during and after rush hour), and have never seen anything beyond the constant general rudeness, crowding of the doors and idiots pushing to get out of the doors before their stop. (And the delays. Oh, the delays.) Anyway, that's my norm.

and pATRICK, really? The crime and murder capital of the country?? Again, I'd ask, when did you actually live here (if ever), under Mayor Barry when most of what is now Penn Quarter was a crack den? As far as places go, Northwest Washington (and its metro) are fairly clean, safe and mostly immune (but for some unfortunate and well-publicized blips in the last couple of years) from the kind of seemingly exaggerated incidents above. I'm almost (almost!) laughing out loud here.

Can we talk about lawyers' billables again?

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 1:59 PM

wtf

"Truly, and I'm directly this at hillary too, don't bother posting unless you havve something to contribute that's not an insult at someone else or just snark."

Again, who died and made you the Queen Bee?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:00 PM

"bababooey, you are a joke and you add nothing of substance to the discussion."

Why thank you, wtf. That is the kindest thing anyone has said to me in quite a while. I am clearly achieving my goal!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 2:00 PM

I've been "served"? Seriously? You know, the kids aren't saying this anymore. Mos def. Tight.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 2:02 PM

Where are the recipes?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:07 PM

"and pATRICK, really? The crime and murder capital of the country??"

NPR good enough for you?
Washington, D.C., has the highest homicide rate per capita in the nation. One local scholar says that sociological factors, such as population distribution and poverty, have more to do with the high murder rate than do policy issues. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Charis Kubrin, senior fellow at the Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections at George Washington University.

"And most of the women actually spar with pATRICK, rather than hurl unintelligible nonsense at him in a hit-and-run approach. Hillary excluded, of course"

Yep, that's what makes it fun, people like Bababooey are just unhinged.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 2:10 PM

Oh atb:

You know what the other posters are saying don't you. "atb, why are you letting her drag you down to her level?? Why are taking the bait??" But you can't resist, can you atb. You're addicted. You're like Bill Bennett at a craps game. You can't resist.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 2:10 PM

Actually hillary, I'm pretty sure I speak for the blog when I tell you and babablooey that you both suck and your posts are worthless.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:12 PM

"and pATRICK, really? The crime and murder capital of the country??"


NPR good enough for you?
Washington, D.C., has the highest homicide rate per capita in the nation. One local scholar says that sociological factors, such as population distribution and poverty, have more to do with the high murder rate than do policy issues. NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Charis Kubrin, senior fellow at the Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections at George Washington University.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 02:10 PM

That's interesting (and I mean that genuinely as these statistics change every year)- I did just try to run my own search and could not find anything but I did it in about 20 seconds. Regardless, I am confident that the murder stats (just like similar HIV statistics) are limited to certain quadrants. Living and working and even metroing (and even allowing children to metro) in NW Washington is not so dangerous. Did NPR actually break down those statistics? Just curious....

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 2:16 PM

"Actually hillary, I'm pretty sure I speak for the blog when I tell you and babablooey that you both suck and your posts are worthless."

wtf, now you're really making me blush.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 2:16 PM

babablooey666

I would rather be a comatosed individual who is loved than an ass hole.

XXXOOO
Mako

Posted by: nonamehere | August 22, 2007 2:16 PM

wtf

"Actually hillary, I'm pretty sure I speak for the blog when I tell you and babablooey that you both suck and your posts are worthless."

Actually, wtf, SPEAKING FOR AN ENTIRE GROUP is classic Queen Bee/Cheerleader & Wannabee behavior!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:17 PM

Why in the H$ll is hillary so fixated on cheerleaders? Creepy, especially if she has been such a "regular".

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 2:20 PM

That's right, you two, keep it coming. You must feel so proud of yourselves at the end of the day. Babablooey, you should blush. And hillary, if telling you two where to get off is being a Queen Bee SIGN ME UP. You may have exhausted the rest of the people on this thing but I just got here and I'm used to dealing with morons. So bring it on.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:22 PM

My daughter takes the metro red line and transfers onto the green line to meet me from her fathers house. She is 15. She told me earlier this week that she hates taking metro due to the various forms of idiots and unstable personalitites she has come across.

She is old enough and it is convienient but we both prefer that her father not use that mode of transportation for her.

Posted by: mamipicante | August 22, 2007 2:23 PM

wtf

"So bring it on."

Oh, brother...

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:23 PM

Mako:
"I would rather be a comatosed individual who is loved than an a** hole."

I speak Mako. Allow me to translate: I would rather be bababooey666 after an insulin overdose than atb.

In all seriousness, that is about 20 personal attacks for the day. More than enough to cover an entire week. So enjoy your blog everyone. I'll be back next Monday. Unless Leslie sees the light and bans me permanently.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 2:24 PM

What's the matter hillary? Can dish it out but can't take it?

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:25 PM

HALLELUJAH! Moron 1 has left the building. Now, hillary, it's your turn. We're waiting.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:27 PM

wtf

"What's the matter hillary? Can dish it out but can't take it?"

OMG. Classic teen behavior!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:27 PM

mamipicante's daughter told her "earlier this week that she hates taking metro due to the various forms of idiots and unstable personalitites she has come across."

Kinda like Hillary and Babba on the "On Balance" blog, huh? I'd rather take my chances on public transit, thanks.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 2:27 PM

"HALLELUJAH! Moron 1 has left the building. Now, hillary, it's your turn. We're waiting."

Oh good. Thank you for leaving, wtf. But we will all miss your sense of humor and ability to take a joke. Love you, wtf!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 2:29 PM

Takes one to know one, hillary.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:29 PM

CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 02:16 PM

Actually according to the preliminary crime stats published by the FBI for 2006 NYC leads the pack with murders at 596 and DC only had 169. There are many many cities who would hold the title of murder capital such as Pheonix or LA before DC.
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/06prelim/index.html

Posted by: noname1 | August 22, 2007 2:29 PM

wtc

"Takes one to know one, hillary."

C'mon. Is this the best you can do?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:31 PM

ALERT: Moron 1 has returned. Lock and load, y'all.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:32 PM

hillary is THAT the best YOU can do?

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:32 PM

NoName-you just provided evidence to support my point-I'm not the one who called it the murder capital. I incredulously questioned pATRICK, who did (with NPR evidence to support it). Anyway, thanks-I couldn't find anything either way but was surprised to hear it. I hate NPR anyway.

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 2:33 PM

Today's blog has turned into life in the cesspool lane.

On a per capita basis, Philadelphia and Camden would be right near the top.

Posted by: chemguy1157 | August 22, 2007 2:33 PM

"ALERT: Moron 1 has returned."

Welcome back, wtf! But don't be so hard on yourself.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 2:34 PM

Although I guess pATRICK was talking about per capita, not total. So you could both be right at the same time. Doesn't matter. My original point was that NW DC is pretty safe, as is the metro.

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 2:34 PM

wtf

"hillary is THAT the best YOU can do?"

YOU threw down the challenge!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:35 PM

I'm turning into Captain Google, here.

First of all, what is a "high" rate of violence?

National avg in 2005 is 469 aggravated assaults per 100,000 people.

http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

Divide 469 into 100,000....I'll wait.... what you get is a statistically insignification fraction. Second of all, if you look at the link what you will see is a constant decline in crime since the 1990. No doubt either Reagan or Clinton are to be credited, depending on your politics. If you are Rudy Giuliani, you probably credit yourself, but I digress.

So onto DC:
http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm

2005 yielded a "higher" crime rate than the nation's. True. 6,206 per 100,000 people. A little long division yields a .06% chance of one person out of 100,000 being victimized violently in DC.

So what's this tell us? "High" is relative. If you know 500,000 people there is a good chance you know someone who has been the victim of a violent crime.

Now, caveat - You could argue lots of crimes go unreported. Fine. But I could then argue that lots of domestic crimes go unreported in the suburbs. For every anecdote of your cousin's brother's wife getting her purse snatched in DC, there is an anecdote of bratty suburban high-schoolers slashing tires.

Stop with the FUD. Research and think.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 22, 2007 2:36 PM

cream of the crop,

I have no reason to lie. I was on the red line for most of my time in DC. I saw three drunk people, one during the day and two at night. The crazy lady who tried to kiss the young boy fell down the steps on her way out and I laughed. Sorry, but she did "try" to touch my husband. It didn't work out well for her. The fist fight happened on the way home when the train lurched and a rare Good Samaritan grabbed a lady who was going to fall, she slapped him and then his wife slapped her. I guess I should say it was a slap fight.

Just because you've never seen it, doesn't mean it has not happened and I find it odd you would think I would make it up. The metro has no barring on my life now, so why would I care.

Actually, I wish I was lying about the time the lady tried to push me down. It was a horrible experience which almost landed my husband in jail.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 2:36 PM

baba- Actually I take a lot of pleasure in guessing what your next "comeback" will be, so I keep posting. I'm not trying to get the last word. I'm leaving that to you, and I'm hoping its a doozy. I am actually surprised that I haven't been chided by the regs. I think they understand, as many of them are in DC and have experienced August here.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 2:36 PM

Oh, the irony, the delicious irony of it all! Hillary hurls the epithet "Queen Bee" at anyone with whom s/he disagrees, all the while not recognizing the s/he is projecting his/her own hoped-for self-image onto others.

In Hillary-world, everybody's out of step but Hillary.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 2:37 PM

Let's keep it going atb. Maybe we can distract the idiots and keep them busy hurling insults and others can have a good discussion.

Meesh, maybe hillary is George Bush.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:39 PM

mehitabel |


"Oh, the irony, the delicious irony of it all! Hillary hurls the epithet "Queen Bee" at anyone with whom s/he disagrees, all the while not recognizing the s/he is projecting his/her own hoped-for self-image onto others.

In Hillary-world, everybody's out of step but Hillary."

Wow! Talk about irony!!!!! Don't know how delicious it is.|

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 2:41 PM

Shut up Dubya.

Posted by: wtf | August 22, 2007 2:44 PM

I've seen blood and vomit, separately, on the Metro, as well as the vomiters, but not the bleeders. That's pretty gross and obnoxious, but I've never seen harassment.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 2:44 PM

If someone calls a bunch of people Queen Bees -- when, by definition, there can only be one per hive -- there is indeed an irony at play, which the epithet-hurler clearly has overlooked.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 2:46 PM

"I am actually surprised that I haven't been chided by the regs."

Me too. (Although my last attempt at this post either got eaten or I'm banned!!) Anyway, maybe when I return on Monday I will be a whole new, kinder, gentler, on-topic poster. Hmm...

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 22, 2007 2:49 PM

With respect to people who would avoid public transit because they might once in a while see "blood and vomit [there], separately," as well as a few odd or drunk people:

Well, you see all these same things elsewhere in public, but you just can't hide from the world if you want to have a life worth living (as opposed to trolls under rocks).

Heck, poor pATRICK even encountered vomit in his own car recently; it's unavoidable occasionally in even the best of families!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 2:56 PM

mehitabel

Yes, but with all due respect, I am not ten years old and that is my point. Drunk lady trying to kiss a hot 20 something was funny. Drunk lady trying to kiss a ten year old, not funny. It's all about how you see things. Sure she will be around drunk people, I mean I am Irish after all, but I want her to be able to handle herself before I send her out into the world alone.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 3:04 PM

Irish Girl, my long response to you was just eaten by the Washington Post, so I will sum up in a few points:
1. your original post made it seem that seeing drunkards and being harrassed was a common occurrence on the metro and, therefore, it was not a safe place for kids.
2. your second post admitted (unwittingly?) that you've actually only ever experienced this less than a handful of times in what I assume to be a very long ridership on the metro.
3. those incidents-at least the instances of seeing drunkards-happened at night with the exception of one.
4. the metro ridership changes during period of the day: during the day and evening you have the masses of workers shuttling into, out of and around DC; and during the night you have a sampling of the same plus others that have gone out for the evening, etc; and on weekends you have different ridership still (mostly tourists).
4. kids (and most others) ride the metro during the aforementioned day and evening hours. the rare incidents of which you spoke didn't happen during the day (or most of them did not).
5. therefore, I take from this that it is a pretty safe metro system and safe for kids to ride.

finally, on any public transportation system (and on public streets, and even on private school buses, as someone pointed out) there will always be bad incidents. The question is whether there are enough to warrant needing to keep your kids off these things to keep them out of harm's way. my answer to that is clear enough.

And ProudPapa 15, thanks for the statistics-I am obviously not a Google Captain myself.

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 3:05 PM

Sure she will be around drunk people, I mean I am Irish after all....

Just being a smart-ass. No one get upset, I don't like that sterotype myself.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 3:05 PM

In Metro's defense, the blood and vomit was late at night. And that urine you smell is probably from the night before. I love Metro, but it is public transportation, after all. It beats driving drunk.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 3:09 PM

CreamOfTheCrop

Three out of the five incidents I saw happened during the day. The one that happened to me, during the day.

I am not saying I never took my kid on the metro, I am not saying it is unsafe for an adult, I am just saying that I am not going to let my 10 year old ride it by herself. As I said before that is why I am her mom and you and others are the moms, dads, etc to your children. You are not wrong, I am not wrong, we are just different.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 3:09 PM

ProudPapa's math is a little off. According to the page he cited, http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/dccrime.htm ,
in 2005 DC had 6,206.0 crimes per 100,000 people, of which 1459 were violent crimes and the other 4747 were "property" crimes.

1,459 violent crimes per 100,000 people means that 1.459 out of 100 - or 1.459% - were victims of a violent crime.

If those victims were truly randomly distributed, then it's quite likely most residents knew somebody who was the victim of a violent crime. In fact, the birthday paradox says that if you know a little more than 50 residents you've got a better than 50% chance of knowing such a victim.

That assumes that each victim was unique; there was no one who was the victim of 2 or more violent crimes that year. That's probably a false assumption; it's quite likely that some number of people were assaulted 2 or more times over the course of the year. But that information's not provided.

And of course as Cream of the Crop has pointed out, the victims are not randomly distributed. There are no doubt clusters, most likely in NE and SE, with fewer in Upper NW, Georgetown, etc.

But I did want to make sure that the math was done correctly.

(Where's Fred when you need him. Given the much smaller population but still large amount of crime, I've got to believe that New Orleans is at or near the top in per-capita violent crime. And Baltimore's up there, too, despite what the current Mayor and Governor would like you to believe.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | August 22, 2007 3:09 PM

"Drunk lady trying to kiss a ten year old, not funny."

Yet it happens at many people's family celebrations, so would you recommend that people never take their child to family holiday parties?

I agree with the earlier posters that at least some adults will stand up for a child traveling alone on public transportation.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:10 PM

Now catlady and scarry are going to have at it! Let the fur and flesh fly!

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 3:13 PM

Irishgirl, five incidents is not a lot, especially over a considerable period of time on a heavily used system. These things can happen anywhere in public, not just on the subway (or other public transit). You can find similar behaviors even in restaurants, e.g.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:14 PM

It beats driving drunk.

Posted by: atb | August 22, 2007 03:09 PM

My favorite comment of the day.


Army Brat, thanks for the re-check. That's what I get for being careless.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 22, 2007 3:17 PM

Heck, poor pATRICK even encountered vomit in his own car recently; it's unavoidable occasionally in even the best of families

LOL, I am doing my best to avoid it all costs, told my daughter to ride public transportation where she can throw up anytime she wants. ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 3:19 PM

Irishgirl

"As I said before that is why I am her mom and you and others are the moms, dads, etc to your children. "

Catlady doesn't have any children....

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 3:21 PM

Last post on the metro topic. My family cares more about my children than the average Joe on the Metro. If a drunk relative tried to harm one of my children at a family gathering they would probably end up at the bottom of a mine shaft.

Everyone is not like you, me, and pATRICK. Everyone will not go out of their way to help people. I will not rely on other people to take care of my children. I just won't put them in that situation. I never rode the metro until I was 29 and I managed okay, you are not handicapping them by not making them take public transportation. The whole argument is around the kid being "10" my teenager may be able to ride on it with friends, but not my 10 year old.

No, atb catlady and I are not going to fight over it. We like each other; it's just a difference of opinion. And, yes, I could be out with my kids and have someone be drunk or push one of us, but the point is, I will be there or someone who is in charge of them will be there.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 3:23 PM

Hillary has no idea whether Catlady has any children, or how many.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:24 PM

Yet it happens at many people's family celebrations, so would you recommend that people never take their child to family holiday parties?

I agree with the earlier posters that at least some adults will stand up for a child traveling alone on public transportation.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 03:10 PM


they might, but I am the mom of my kids and I am not going to leave them to the kindness of strangers before they weigh 120 pounds and have the judgment to know what of adult behavior is funny and what has risk for them. I use public transit WITH my kids in cities where using it is efficient, primarily in Boston and NY. Prior to age 15 or 16, however, the risks of potential harm to my children in utilizing public transit alone far outweigh any societal or personal benefits to them. YMMV.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 3:26 PM

"I never rode the metro until I was 29"

Sheltered much?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:28 PM

"I never rode the metro until I was 29"

Sheltered much?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 03:28 PM

How does that one choice make scarry sheltered? She may not have lived somewhere in which metro was the most efficient transportation choice. She may have biked everywhere. Hold the presses: she may have walked.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 3:33 PM

I just can't help myself today.

Some 10 year olds weigh a good 120, but I still think that's too young to be on the Metro.

scarry- I was kidding. I just liked the thought of cats attacking an alreay scarred up person. Seemed appropriate.

pATRICK- LOL. That was a good one.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 3:33 PM

Why would I want to ride in a sweaty box full of strangers when I can drive in my safe, air conditioned , leather appointed car listening to my favorite cd? No Thanks!!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 3:34 PM

MN makes an excellent point when she writes, "I use public transit WITH my kids in cities where using it is efficient." You're right, this is how children learn to ride buses and subways, by example.

My earliest solo bus-riding was during daylight on weekdays between our neighborhood and downtown, with a few blocks' walk on each end of the journey. From an early age I was taught always to be alert to my surroundings, and to get away from uncomfortable-looking public situations -- which my parents taught by example, too.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:35 PM

But pATRICK, your car smells like daughter-barf.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:36 PM

I think I will have to agree with Irishgirl regarding Metro.

I saw an older man get on a train, squeeze into a seat where a young girl (she was about 12-13 years old) was sleeping, and wake her up. A young man on the train asked the girl if she knew the old man, when she said no, he called the old man out for touching her. When the old man got up to leave he had his pants down "exposing" his intentions.

This happened around 2pm on a weekday at Metro Center, some 2 yrs ago.

I have seen other nasty incidences but this one was pretty disturbing. Therefore I can understand why some parents do not like their children riding it alone.

Posted by: zr500 | August 22, 2007 3:37 PM

But pATRICK, your car smells like daughter-barf.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 03:36 PM

Not anymore, it is back to its pristine state. I told my daughter any more barfing and I will trade her in for a hamster.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 3:39 PM

"safe, air conditioned , leather appointed car listening to my favorite cd"

Sounds like Metro to me! You can even get up and shake your money-maker in the aisles if you want. And barf freely. And spit on the carpet.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 3:39 PM

Okay catlady, I think you may have some metro issues at this point.

I lived in Ohio for the first 25 years of my life. We moved to Utah and lived there for 4, we visited many places, but never ones with a metro, that brings me to DC at the age of 29. A nice LDS girl showed me what to do and that was that.

You can't ride something that isn't where you live, you know.

By the way, have you been to a coal mine? A potato farm in Idaho, pretty neat, I might add. Perhaps climbed the hills of WV or had a steak salad with French fries from North East Ohio. It's all relative to where you live.

atb do you mean the scares from my pancreaticis or my emotional scares from not riding metro until I was 29?

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 3:40 PM

This happened around 2pm on a weekday at Metro Center, some 2 yrs ago.

But hey that was only "one" incident right? What about the other 364 days? (ROLLING MY EYES)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 3:41 PM

Oh, but MN, what if there was vomit on the sidewalk or the curb, or a drunk or mentally-ill person approached her?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:41 PM

catlady, If scarry were to encounter a vomiting drunk on the average street corner, she can run, shout and otherwise get away. Public transit is a closed system. You're trapped with the vomiting drunk until the next stop, at minimum, or to your stop, more likely.

You're ignoring the inappropriateness of your prior comment to scarry. It's not an indication of being sheltered to have not ridden public transit by the time one is 29. Back to your original point, though, more importantly, a family who determines that public transit is not the right answer to meet its 10-year old's solo transportation needs is likely to have many valid concerns about safety and efficiency and not seeking to avoid poor people or those of a different race.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 3:50 PM

Gee, pATRICK, I sure hope that hamster is house-broken.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:51 PM

Scarry- Your name has always scared me a bit. And I now know you're a scrapper. I've decided your scars are from a knife fight. Maybe you have a menacing one down across your face, like Omar in The Wire.

Posted by: atb2 | August 22, 2007 3:52 PM

Re an offensive passenger on public transit: you get up and move away from the person. And/or, as someone noted previously, you make a commotion to attract the attention of other passengers. If on a bus, you tell the driver. For the record, when I was riding the bus solo at age 10, I was small and slender for my age -- though, on my behalf, I must add that I was fleet of foot! More to the point, my family was not being neglectful or unloving by sending me off on the bus: it was the norm in our city for kids to start riding the bus a few miles to reach destinations at around that age; a child who didn't was considered either a big baby or overly-protected, either of which could lead to peer derision!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 3:58 PM

This happened around 2pm on a weekday at Metro Center, some 2 yrs ago.

But hey that was only "one" incident right? What about the other 364 days? (ROLLING MY EYES)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 03:41 PM

pATRICK, I suspect there are far greater incidences of teens getting into car accidents/ causing car accidents than peds on the metro. Does this mean you will never let your kid drive? (rolling MY eyes. but only at you.)

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 3:59 PM

yeah, and the point is that the person (child) would perhaps learn how to handle situations.

pATRICK: And one of the reasons some places are more dangerous than others is that everyone *is* in their cars. If people are out and about walking - there is typically less crime. It's kinda simple...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 4:04 PM

RIGHT. Teens are killed on the highways here *all the time*. The legislature finally did something about it (very lame attempt, I might add). But no one is saying: hey, these kids can't really get around any other way - mom and dad give junior a huge SUV that they couldn't possibly know how to drive - and then they think it's safer.

What we really need is a way for people to get around the city without having to drive, then mom and dad wouldn't feel obligated to get the kids out of their hair and give them cars so young.

Just a thought.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 4:06 PM

No one pulling down their pants and exposing themselves in our car.... well maybe except my son when he was two but we put the kibash on that.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:08 PM

Scarry- Your name has always scared me a bit. And I now know you're a scrapper. I've decided your scars are from a knife fight. Maybe you have a menacing one down across your face, like Omar in The Wire.


No, sorry it is just my last name. I am a scrapper though.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 4:12 PM

atlmom1234, my large urban high school (located in the heart of our downtown) didn't even have a student parking lot, just one for faculty (permit only). Those rare few students with a car available who wanted to drive to school had to deal with feeding parking meters between classes and moving their cars if there was a time limit on the parking space. Our school system didn't have daily school bus transportation, either, so if a student's parents chose to live farther than walking distance from school, it was up to the family to figure out how the student was to travel to/from school on time. Many kids used the public transit bus-line, with their student IDs; a few were dropped off or picked up by parents, but they tended to get mocked by classmates for being immature.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 4:12 PM

No one pulling down their pants and exposing themselves in our car.... well maybe except my son when he was two but we put the kibash on that.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 04:08 PM

Sigh. I get the humor but your point is utterly off point. You are surprised that those of us pro-metro moms would allow our kids (or think that kids should be allowed) to frequent the metro where there are rare instances of vomit, blood, pervs, you name it. But apparently deaths and/or serious injuries occurring far more frequently on the roads would not deter you from having your child drive and/or be driven in a vehicle on the road. So, by your logic, getting flashed once on the metro is a big deal, but the higher possibility of getting killed on the roads...not so much?

I'm not advocating for keeping teens off the road (though I might one day). All I'm saying is that your risk calculus makes no sense here: sarcastically saying that "one" incident is no big deal (thus implying that it IS a big deal) in one scenario while implicitly accepting the far worse odds in another scenario is pretty strange.

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 4:14 PM

"Scarry- Your name has always scared me a bit. And I now know you're a scrapper. I've decided your scars are from a knife fight."

A rose by any other name ring any bells?
So?
It's a surname, not a nickname.

Scarry,

How's the pregnancy progressing?

Posted by: maryland_mother | August 22, 2007 4:17 PM

"And Leslie, 10 and 8 year olds are certainly old enough to ride buses by themselves"

Listen people, Leslie definitely meant city buses. Her children attend independent schools (that's private to those who don't know). Almost all "people of a certain class'" children do in Washington (and other places too.) First of all, public schools in Washington, except for a very few Elementary Schools like Horace Mann, Key and Janney, are terrible, and secondly, it is a class issue. Being nasty about this is pointless. Its just the way it is and the way it has been for a very long time. Badmouthing the chilren of privledge isn't going to make it change and no, thery are not all white. As for the poster who said he/she was allowed to ride city buses at 10, that is really horrible and just because it happene to you does not make it okay. Letting a child of 10 ride Washington City Buses or Metro should be considered child neglect in this day and age.

Posted by: SuzonCameron | August 22, 2007 4:23 PM

and, pATRICK, are you going to keep them in your car forever? Or only have them associate with others you deem 'acceptable?'

That's a very dim view of society and I don't think it's so helpful to your kids to not have them know how to deal in different situations.

Having not even grown up in NYC, but near it, I am possibly always a little overly aware of my surroundings, possibly I freak myself out a little more sometimes than I should, but I think being overly vigilant isn't such a bad thing and not such a bad thing for a kid to know at an early age.

I like that I see kids in upper elementary/high school etc walking to school themselves, they should be! Well, plenty of parents around here don't think they should, and they drive them. I had to fend for myself (riding public transit cause the school bus thought I lived to close to school). So I learned and figured it all out.

Perhaps why when I got to college I was much more able to take care of myself than many of the students there. I was utterly amazed at what some parents were doing for kids.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 4:23 PM

Sigh. I get the humor but your point is utterly off point. You are surprised that those of us pro-metro moms would allow our kids (or think that kids should be allowed) to frequent the metro where there are rare instances of vomit, blood, pervs, you name it


I rode the bus when I was about 8 to play golf across town and transferred twice to get there. Looking back, I could have been snatched and NO ONE would have ever known what happened to me. It was absolutey stupid of my parents to allow me to that. I will not make that mistake. You do your thing, I will do mine.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:24 PM

Dissension in the ranks!

Purrrr

Posted by: hillary1 | August 22, 2007 4:27 PM

I agree with Cream of the Crop.

Sounds like Mehitabel and I may have had a similar experience. I grew up in NYC (I might have mentioned that about 100 times before) where the NORM is for 9th graders (13-15 year olds) to take public transportation to school.

I admit I think 10 is a little young. Not so much because I think they are in grave danger, though some small danger exists. More because I am not sure a 10 year old has the maturity to remove him/herself from a dangerous situation. If strangers are doing something dangerous does the 10 year old (A) watch; or (B) run away? I don't know. We'd all like to think we raised smart kids but sometimes the young do silly things. In other words, my fear is about the kid's judgement, not the strangers.

I'll be equally concerned if my 11-year-old wants to ride his bike to school every day.

By 13, I will expect that my kid could take public transportation, because I did it. In a much worse area during a much worse time.

To wrap back to the larger point of Leslie's posting -- "In my day" we did plenty of extracurriculars, but they were centered around school. Study hall in the morning? Take the train to school earlier. Baseball practice in the afternoon? Take the train home later.

In the era of cell phones and text messaging, I tend to think we should feel more secure now, not less. By comparison, when I left home for school at 7am, my parents could not reliably count on being able to contact me until I got home between 3:30-5p, depending on what day it was. THEY had reason to worry. Today's parents? Not nearly as much. 2 cents.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 22, 2007 4:30 PM

pATRICK: part of the point is that kids really don't get snatched as much as anyone would be led to believe. First of all, most of the time it's by someone the person knows.

And secondly, since you hear so much about it, then that's why you think it's frequent.

However, the same could have been said about me walking to and from school every day. Do you think I shouldn't have done it?

Clearly, each kid is different, each person is different, each parent is different, but if you think chauffering the kids around is fine for you, then go do it. I'm hopeful I won't have to do it forever. I would get rid of my cars and ALWAYS take the bus/subway whatever if I could. I SOOOOO hate to drive. I hate every little aspect about it. My dream is to live somewhere I *don't need a car at all*. What freedom *that* is. No joke.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 4:34 PM

"...being overly vigilant isn't such a bad thing and not such a bad thing for a kid to know at an early age."

Hear! Hear!

Among other ways of street-proofing a kid (besides getting away from scary people), my mother taught me the names of all the cross-streets between our house and the far side of downtown, which by the time I was 8 I could recite by memory in either order (i.e., to or from home) -- there were about 24 of them altogether. That way, I was less likely to perceive myself to be lost while away from the house by myself or with friends who didn't know all their streets yet. And no, the streets weren't numbered or lettered, nor in alphabetical order like in parts of DC, either :-)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 4:36 PM

"Why would I want to ride in a sweaty box full of strangers when I can drive in my safe, air conditioned, leather appointed car listening to my favorite cd? No Thanks!!"

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 03:34 PM

Folks who want to slow global warming, folks who want to lower pollution and congestion, all folks who want to get Americans out of their fume-belching cars, pickups and SUVS -- this is an example of the kind of attitude you are up against. How can civic-minded, earth-minded, progressive people change these attitudes?

Here is a suggestion: Let's not call it "mass transportation." That implies that it's only for the unwashed masses. Rather, let's call it "public transportation," and let the élites set an example. Let them commute by public transportation every workday. Let's have corporate CEO's taking the D.C. bus to their offices. Let's have Senators and Representatives and all nine Supreme Court Justices riding the Metro every day. When the ordinary public sees Cabinet Secretaries riding public transportation to their Department headquarters, sees equity partners in top law firms knocking off work at 1 AM and riding the Metro to Union Station to get onto the MARC trains, sees the Mayor of the District of Columbia holding onto a strap or a pole on a D. C. bus -- then people will realize how important it is to leave their motor vehicles at home.

I fear that some of these élites will say, "Wait a minute! My time is far too important for me to spend it on a street corner waiting for a bus, or on a Metro Center platform waiting to change from the Orange Line to the Green Line." The problem with this attitude is that the ordinary worker is going to reply, "Well, my time is just as important to me as your time is to you, Big Shot, so I'm gonna keep driving to work every day in my comfortable, air-conditioned car."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 22, 2007 4:39 PM

yeah, proudpapa - I wasn't typically home til 5:30 after school, in high school, and senior year, I was out of there by 1:30 or so. I'd go eat with friends, hang out, sometimes have some extracurriculars, sometimes not, but most definitely my parents didn't know when they were. I had dance class or whatever - again, my mom didn't really keep track. I'd show up after school, maybe a few hours later, and no, no one had seen me since 7 AM.

It is, I guess, a different world. I'm kinda happy (I guess, if we stay here, but if we're moving, it would be somewhere I COULD GET RID OF MY CAR - so it'd probably be a city) that my kids will be living a more urban life than I did (I was on LI, after all). We're in the city, and that's good for me. Of course, there's always incidents and stuff, but that's the way it is. I can't insulate myself and my kids forever.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 4:40 PM

"As for the poster who said he/she was allowed to ride city buses at 10, that is really horrible and just because it happened to you does not make it okay. Letting a child of 10 ride Washington City Buses or Metro should be considered child neglect..."

Wow, to quote a great thinker!

In that case, the majority of children in my hometown were the victims of child neglect. Guess we urban types just didn't know any better.

But you helicopter parents can just go ahead and keep chauffeuring your kids everywhere till they go off on their own. Oh, wait, they could just live with you forever.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 4:42 PM

See what you dc new yorker people don't realize is only vagrant, very poor or crazy people walk. Public transportation is a joke. We are spread out for dozens of miles and getting on a bus or something would eat up your whole day. It's a very different world. As far as snatching, putting them in positions to get snatched molested etc to "street proof" them is ridiculous.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:42 PM

well, in a 'real' city (which I'm not sure Atlanta is), it would take far less time to drive then to take any sort of public transportation - what with getting your car, figuring out traffic, getting wherever you're going, parking the car, getting to the actual destination.

Which is why people take it. and, Matt, in NYC, yes, many people who take the subway are the high level people at their companies. yes, some of them have cars with drivers or take a cab - but most of the time, it's faster to take the subway, if it's anywhere near rush hour, so great, you get to sit in traffic, when you need to be in the office...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 4:44 PM

"First of all, public schools in Washington, except for a very few Elementary Schools like Horace Mann, Key and Janney, are terrible, and secondly, it is a class issue. Being nasty about this is pointless."

then why are you being nasty about it? 3 are OK and rest are all "terrible"? Such hyperbole! I'd say 25% are terrible and the rest are OK or even very good.

Regardless, the school doesn't make the child-- the parents do! What is critical is the role the parents play in managing the child's education.

Posted by: baby-work | August 22, 2007 4:45 PM

It's a surname, not a nickname.

Scarry,

How's the pregnancy progressing?

You are correct. I am doing better.

My name is not pronounced like scar.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 4:45 PM

Sorry ALTMOM I hate the whole NYC experience so, i am not the one to try to convince. Urine filled subways, taxis , ridiculous prices for everything,walking 10 blocks in a suit outside..uggg.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:49 PM

MAtt in Abardeen, actually a lot MOCs (Member of Congress), Secretarys and Supreme court justices live on Capitol Hill and walk to work. no need for public transportation for them.

Posted by: baby-work | August 22, 2007 4:50 PM

pATRICK, I think ALL children need to be "street-proofed," because helicopter parents can't be there every minute of the day protecting them, and kids need to be able to figure out what to do when the parents aren't around (like in an emergency).

Re walking in a city: I'm neither a vagrant, very poor nor crazy, yet it's my preferred mode of transport for shorter distances. Obviously I don't walk just anywhere, any time, and I'm always very alert to my surroundings. But you can't let yourself become held hostage by society, either.

BTW, this sort of knowledge is useful even if you're parking your big safe air-conditioned, CD-equipped motor vehicle in a parking lot.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 4:51 PM

Posted by: baby-work | August 22, 2007 04:50 PM

Wait until Al Qaeda kills one of them, you will see armored limos going everywhere...

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:51 PM

pATRICK, I think ALL children need to be "street-proofed," because helicopter parents can't be there every minute of the day protecting them, and kids need to be able to figure out what to do when the parents aren't around (like in an emergency).

I really hate that term. Keeping your children out of positions for harm is not helicopter parenting. You are talking about 10 year olds riding alone on a major subway. You find that street proofing them, i call it needlessly exposing them to drunks and perverts. We disagree. If they were 15-16 we would see.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:55 PM

forgot this.. kids didn't wear seatbelts in the 70's, are we know helicopter parents becuase we strap them in? Older people could say, well we didn't have seatbelts, nothing happened to us. Your argument is the same as theirs.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:57 PM

"'When the ordinary public sees Cabinet Secretaries riding public transportation to their Department headquarters, sees equity partners in top law firms knocking off work at 1 AM and riding the Metro to Union Station to get onto the MARC trains, sees the Mayor of the District of Columbia holding onto a strap or a pole on a D. C. bus -- then people will realize how important it is to leave their motor vehicles at home.'"

"Matt, in NYC, yes, many people who take the subway are the high level people at their companies. yes, some of them have cars with drivers or take a cab - but most of the time, it's faster to take the subway, if it's anywhere near rush hour, so great, you get to sit in traffic, when you need to be in the office..."

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 04:44 PM

ATL Mom, NYC is the exception. Equity partners in top law firms do ride the subway to Grand Central and Penn Station and get onto Metro North or the LIRR or NJ Transit trains late at night. I knew one Harvard Law School graduate (class of 1932) who rode the LIRR from Great Neck to the Empire State Building every workday. But when Mayor Bloomberg recently made a big show out of riding the subway from Gracie Mansion to City Hall, people realized that he doesn't do it every day, so it's just a publicity stunt. I have heard that one particular Supreme Court Justice rides the D. C. Metro -- that's why I proposed "all nine Supreme Court Justices riding the Metro every day."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 22, 2007 4:57 PM

pATRICK, if memory serves, Senator Biden commutes daily to DC via Metroliner (high-speed train) from Delaware. Maybe some Maryland Reps and Senators do as well -- perhaps someone in the DC area can check this for us.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 4:57 PM

But you helicopter parents can just go ahead and keep chauffeuring your kids everywhere till they go off on their own. Oh, wait, they could just live with you forever.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 04:42 PM

Distinguishing between appropriate transit options for a 10- year old and appropriate transit options for an 18- year old seems to be posing some problems today. There's nothing class-ist or helicopter-like about appreciating the differences in maturity and ability to cope (with varying levels of threat to safety) between pre-teens and older teens. But then, I suppose it's easier making extreme statements when you don't distinguish between the two.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 4:58 PM

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 04:58 PM

Exactly! Thank you!

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 4:59 PM

The seatbelt analogy doesn't hold, because parents were supposed to see to it that their kids were wearing seatbelts in the '70s (as long as the adults were driving).

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 5:01 PM

I never said a child should ride the bus or subway alone anywhere, any time -- that's a straw man in this debate. We were discussing a 10-year-old being taught to commute to/from a destination a few miles from home during the day on weekdays.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 5:04 PM

ATL Mom, NYC is the exception. Equity partners in top law firms do ride the subway to Grand Central and Penn Station and get onto Metro North or the LIRR or NJ Transit trains late at night. I knew one Harvard Law School graduate (class of 1932) who rode the LIRR from Great Neck to the Empire State Building every workday. But when Mayor Bloomberg recently made a big show out of riding the subway from Gracie Mansion to City Hall, people realized that he doesn't do it every day, so it's just a publicity stunt. I have heard that one particular Supreme Court Justice rides the D. C. Metro -- that's why I proposed "all nine Supreme Court Justices riding the Metro every day."

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 22, 2007 04:57 PM

This was very funny to me. Only because MattInAberdeen makes a huge deal of this one Harvard law Grad riding the subway every day (like normally well-educated, high-ranking lawyers, doctors, business people etc don't do it). (Side note: For those who don't remember or who weren't here last year I was the person who had the audacity to suggest that it mattered a lot more when "elite" women (defined as top college & grad school grads, which would include HLS) dropped out of the workforce than when other women did for a variety of reasons.) Anyway, to circle back to that post so long ago, MattInAberdeen, I can assure you that many many HLS and other "elites" ride the DC metro into work every day. And on that note, I'm out of here.

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 5:05 PM

Funny, I interpreted Matt's comment about "one Harvard Law School graduate (class of 1932)" to be about someone who was extremely elderly (and perhaps for some time a bit frail) still riding the subway, even though he might have been able to afford to drive/park (or even have a driver).

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 5:09 PM

(Side note: For those who don't remember or who weren't here last year I was the person who had the audacity to suggest that it mattered a lot more when "elite" women (defined as top college & grad school grads, which would include HLS) dropped out of the workforce than when other women did for a variety of reasons.)

Actually, I'd take a guess that most of us remember your comment, not for its, ahem, audacity, but for its gratitous slams at "crappy state schools", and teachers, etc. Had you defined "elite" as you now want to recast it, neither the comment nor the values it conveyed would have been nearly as memorable.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 5:14 PM

So this is what I have to look forward to if I have children? Some of you are being way overprotective. I'm speaking for your children, because as a single, childless 23-year-old, I still recall how my mother acted, and tried to "protect" me. Puh-leeze. Had she been looser with the rules, and let me do more for myself and by myself, then I wouldn't feel so bottled up today. Yes, strangers will try to approach your children. (When I was 14, a man in my apartment building tried to ask me out for about 4 months.) Yes, they will get harrased on the school bus. Yes, they will encounter panhandlers, druggies, drunks and crazy people. However, if you raise them right, and teach by example and words, then they will be fine.

So let go, and take your self to a spa or sports bar while your kids ride the bus. Believe me, they don't need you as much as you would like to believe they do. If anything, they'd rather see you leave them alone sometimes so that they can have some space to breath and live without you getting in their way.

Posted by: Strawberry23 | August 22, 2007 5:14 PM

Strawberry 23, Consider identifying precisly what behavior you consider over-protective. We'd hate to miss out on this quality advice from a childless Millenial using the blog as cheap therapy to address that whole "bottled up" problem.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 5:18 PM

Posted by: Strawberry23 | August 22, 2007 05:14 PM

Your friends called from the mall, they are waiting for you at the food court.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 5:19 PM

We'd hate to miss out on this quality advice from a childless Millenial using the blog as cheap therapy to address that whole "bottled up" problem.

MN, that doesn't sound like you.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 5:23 PM

Actually, I'd take a guess that most of us remember your comment, not for its, ahem, audacity, but for its gratitous slams at "crappy state schools", and teachers, etc. Had you defined "elite" as you now want to recast it, neither the comment nor the values it conveyed would have been nearly as memorable.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 05:14 PM

Oh, I want to get off this blog but I can't resist responding. Yes, crappy state schools. I'll say it again. That was part of my attempt to define non-elite so as to show the types of grads I was not talking about. But my overall definition of elite (if you wanted to waste your time to go back and dig it out) was identical then to how I just described it. Again, this is off point, but I couldn't resist responding. Say what you will about my viewpoints, but don't accuse me of whitewashing history, please.

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 5:24 PM

Only elitist liberal snobs use the term crappy state schools. The rest of the real, world goes to University of Texas, UCLA,etc.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 5:27 PM

Who knows, if my parents hadn't made me ride public transportation so much, I might not have had to settle for Crappy State Schools.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 5:28 PM

COTC,

When I look at my bonus this year, I'll think fondly both of you and of the opportunities afforded to me in the law by my crappy state school education, LOL. Particularly since, as I recall from our discussion the other day, I'm at Biglaw with balance and peace, and you're at Biglaw with misery and anger.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 5:28 PM

MN, that doesn't sound like you.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 05:23 PM

this means what?

as I've admitted to pATRICK, low-hanging fruit is more tempting some days than others, but my response is pretty much the same whenever I encounter it.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 5:31 PM

"Funny, I interpreted Matt's comment about "one Harvard Law School graduate (class of 1932)" to be about someone who was extremely elderly (and perhaps for some time a bit frail) still riding the subway, even though he might have been able to afford to drive/park (or even have a driver)."

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 05:09 PM

Obrigado, a senhora dos gatos! The fact is that even when my father-in-law was young and hale and hearty, he still walked to Great Neck Station and rode the LIRR because you have to be crazy to sit in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, and then ¿where was he gonna park his car near the Empire State Building?

Actually, I see now that I used the wrong word when I wrote that "élites" should be seen riding public transportation. To get the needed visibility, I should have written that "celebrities" should be seen riding public transportation to work every day. That means not only well-known politicians, but also such stars as the Major League Baseball pitcher, John Rocker. We need to see him riding the Number 7 train to Flushing!

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 22, 2007 5:32 PM

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 05:31 PM

Don't feel bad, it needed to be said about STRAWBERRY23

Posted by: pATRICK | August 22, 2007 5:34 PM

MN, it means that you usually take the trouble to write thoughtful replies, instead of going after what you term "low-hanging fruit" -- even though we all know how tempting it can be ;-)

A 23-year-old has a useful quality to offer with her input, if only because she and her contemporaries were more recently children than many of us, so she can give a more up-to-date perspective on the topic at hand.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 5:39 PM

Thanks, pATRICK, LOL.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 5:40 PM

Particularly since, as I recall from our discussion the other day, I'm at Biglaw with balance and peace, and you're at Biglaw with misery and anger.

Posted by: mn.188 | August 22, 2007 05:28 PM

Yes, and Hillary Clinton, an "elite" grad, is running for president (and may, therefore, have the opportunity to change things for a far broader spectrum of women than just you). Enjoy your bonus.

Posted by: CreamOfTheCrop | August 22, 2007 5:40 PM

I'm wondering if most of the people who say 10 years olds should be able to ride mass transit alone have kids themselves and know what 10 year olds are like. They are still very, very little and don't have the best judgement. Lots of them are barely out of the paste-eating stage. In many states, it is actually illegal to leave a kid that young home alone- it's considered neglect and you can lose your kids if you do that (the age at which this is considered okay varies by state).

For those who are saying what "they" were like at 10, it has been my experience that people typically have foggy memories when it comes to their own childhood, and remember themselves as a lot better behaved and more mature than they actually were (at least, according to their parents).

Posted by: floof | August 22, 2007 5:49 PM

Well CTOC,


Not everyone has the need or desire to be the prez!

Enjoy your ulcer!

Posted by: nonamehere | August 22, 2007 5:50 PM

Hmmm, let's see, John Edwards not only attended a crappy state school (North Carolina State), he even had to work his way through it. Joe Biden graduated from the University of Delaware. I bet if someone checked, they'd find more CSS grads running for President.

On the other hand, Bush went to Harvard and Yale. They must be so proud down at the H-Y-P Club.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 5:53 PM

"For those who are saying what "they" were like at 10, it has been my experience that people typically have foggy memories when it comes to their own childhood, and remember themselves as a lot better behaved and more mature than they actually were."

Well, speak for yourself, floof.

My memories of riding the bus alone at age 10 are vivid. Sometimes when a parent assigns a child age-appropriate responsibility and independence, the child rises to the occasion, and grows up a bit more. Over-protecting children runs the risk of infantilizing them, which makes becoming an adult a whole lot less gradual when the time comes to take on responsibility for oneself.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 6:01 PM

I took the public bus once or twice in junior high and it was sketchy - my area is much like what patrick describes, it's just not planned for public transit and what little public transit exists is pretty bad.

Like a lot of others here, we chose our current home based in part of the availability of transit and the walkability of the neighborhood - I don't want to have to drive my kid everywhere he needs to go. I think the lightrail here is very well run and safe; I can't say at what age I would let him ride it alone though because it just depends on how he matures. 10 years old just isn't the same for every kid, so we'll just have to see. I'm just hoping that by the time he reaches that age the system is still in place, running smoothly, and has hopefully expanded.

Posted by: LizaBean | August 22, 2007 6:39 PM

Fred's Quote of the Day
(Humor Division)

goes to Floof for her comments on 10 yr olds!

"Lots of them are barely out of the paste-eating stage."

The Creepy Van (tm) c/w the red skirted Hula Girl awaits!

(Of course at 10, yours truly was contemplating retirement having already come to terms with his service in Viet Nam which would not occur for another 9 years.)

Posted by: Fred | August 22, 2007 6:41 PM

Laura wrote: "First, we chose a neighborhood where everything doesn't require getting into a car. This was a dealbreaker for me (my husband didn't get it at the time, but he does now)..."
AND
LizaBean wrote: "we chose our current home based in part of the availability of transit and the walkability of the neighborhood..."

*clap* *clap* *clap*

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 6:44 PM

mehitabel

What are you doing posting after me?

Traditionally, the FQOTD is suppose to signal the end of posting for the day. Except for the obligatory "Fred, you da' man! I am just so honored to have your award bestowed upon me today. I am humbled."

And other such suck-up comments.

Posted by: Fred | August 22, 2007 6:55 PM

oops! I meant far *more* time to drive than to take public transportation...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 7:29 PM

wow matt, I might know you....

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 22, 2007 7:42 PM

My memories of riding the bus alone at age 10 are vivid. Sometimes when a parent assigns a child age-appropriate responsibility and independence, the child rises to the occasion, and grows up a bit more. Over-protecting children runs the risk of infantilizing them, which makes becoming an adult a whole lot less gradual when the time comes to take on responsibility for oneself.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 06:01 PM

for catlady, overprotective means different than the way she was raised. becoming an adult is very easy for youths who take on responsibility at the time they are ready for it, and not when some neighborhood busybody thinks they should.

Posted by: anon | August 22, 2007 8:09 PM

Fred, I merely applauded those two comments (also atlmom1234's along the same lines). No preemption was of FQOTD implied.

To anon: Bite me!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 8:31 PM

The purpose of childhood is training in preparation for adulthood.

That means age-appropriate familial protectiveness as well as age-appropriate "testing of wings." Overprotective does NOT necessarily mean just different from the way I was raised, it means more protectively. Children are better able to assume responsibilities -- again, age-appropriately -- when first instructed in them, then assigned them.

Helicoptering over kids for 18 years, then setting them loose insufficiently prepared on the world is just a recipe for disaster (see atlmom1234's comment re this above, as well as similar comments from others on past days).

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 8:37 PM

P.S. to our veterans on this blog: How about recounting a few choice narratives about over-protected kids who arrived ill-prepared and spoiled in boot camp?

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 8:40 PM

Had she been looser with the rules, and let me do more for myself and by myself, then I wouldn't feel so bottled up today

Stop blaming your mother for your issues and when you have an actual ten year old come back and talk to me!

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 22, 2007 9:11 PM

Irishgirl, by your criterion you wouldn't have standing to comment either ;-)

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 10:15 PM

We were discussing a 10-year-old being taught to commute to/from a destination a few miles from home during the day on weekdays.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 05:04 P

To anon: Bite me!

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 08:31 PM


Helicoptering over kids for 18 years, then setting them loose insufficiently prepared on the world is just a recipe for disaster (see atlmom1234's comment re this above, as well as similar comments from others on past days).

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 08:37 PM

speaking of straw men, 10 is not the same as 18. first it was pATRICK insisting that anyone who disagreed with him would have their child killed or, at minimum, harmed. Now mehitabel dictates that anyone who disagrees with her is over-protecting his child and will raise someone ill-equipped to function as an adult. Has there been a mass escape from a mental institution or a school for dictators and why do they all come to Leslie's blog?

Posted by: anon | August 22, 2007 10:35 PM

And what, pray tell, anon, do YOU know of dictators? I can guess.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:17 PM

Odd how mehitabel has so much to say about children riding public transportation when she HAS NO CHILDREN as she has stated many times on previous blogs.

So no need to argue with her when she doesn't have a dog in this fight. As Scarry has mentioned several times today (paraphrasing here) everyone raise your kids the way you see fit.

Posted by: 20anon07 | August 22, 2007 11:21 PM

20anon07, where have I ever stated how many children I have? Post the URLs, or cease from claiming what you don't know.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:23 PM

mehitabel - if you are the original catlady of all the posts prior to this blog requiring sign ons you have stated numerous times that you don't have children.

If you do have children why didn't you respond so when asked earlier today and why do you not respond as to how you are raising your children - versus how you were raised many years ago.

Posted by: 20anon07 | August 22, 2007 11:34 PM

Where have I stated what you claim? You can't find any such instances so are merely bluffing. And under what other names have YOU posted?

It's late, and you have no salient points to make. But feel free to stay up posting merrily away to yourself, since that seems to be your greatest personal pleasure.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 22, 2007 11:39 PM

You're making your own point that you don't have kids and again have no real point to your posts. If you want me to look it up - id be more than happy to - that's what search functions are.

You seem to be over fixated on finding how what names people have previously posted under. I haven't previously posted - I read the blog at night since I actually work during the day.

But continue to argue with me I know you will.

Posted by: 20anon07 | August 22, 2007 11:42 PM

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