There are a number of reasons why I have gone back and forth about the idea of my children someday walking home from school. As of lately, what has caused me to question the idea even more was the stabbing of 11 year old Josue Flores by Andre Timothy Jackson, Jr. On the way home from school, Josue was stabbed, according to news outlets, at least 20 times. And while there is said to be no known motive, or any connection between Flores and Jackson, it leads one to label the crime (even if these two factors were present) as nothing other than senseless.
I can’t count how many times I walked home from school and looked forward to it. Stopping past the store on the way home, joking around with whoever I was with. I like to think that things were somewhat different when I was younger; that it was slightly safer. But in reality the same threats that exist today existed back then as well. Some of us were simply fortunate enough to escape them.
For many children it is a necessity to walk home. Growing up in a single parent household often meant my siblings and I had to get home on our own. Till this very day, my mother talks about her concern with us having to do that, mostly because of what that walk home could have brought; what it unfortunately brought Josue.
When I look back on those walks, while they gave me a lot of memories, what they also gave me were life lessons. I learned to be responsible, to be vigilant of those around me, to be mindful of my surroundings. I learned to follow directions. Any kid, who has taken a walk home from school, has learned to be these things. And I don’t doubt that Josue learned something similar if not these exact lessons. When I heard about his murder I caught myself thinking of what his day was like up to that point. If he said, “I love you,” before he left the house. If he raised his hand a few times in class. If he thought about riding his bike after he got home. I wondered if on that walk home from school if he started out happy, positive about the school day coming to an end.
While we will never know his exact thoughts it’s pretty clear that what happened to him has shook, and/ or re-enforced, many peoples’ views of the simple walk home, and, in my opinion, a rite of passage. Walking home from school, to me, has always represented a small ounce of independence; the first ounce that you receive as a child at a time when you either have yet to, or are in the mist of, developing a sense of identity. That walk home from school, for so many children, set the foundation for who they are today, and in some cases contributed to the stories they are able to tell of triumph and adversity. Although this has not been many of our realities, this event serves as a reminder of how the seemingly simple things in life are not always so simple.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Latanya Muhammad is an educator, group facilitator, and 100% a wife and mom. If you would like to read more of her posts visit www.shetanagain.com. And if you want to weigh in on the action? Feel free to direct all feedback and inquiries to email@example.com. See ya'!