My oldest son’s school is three blocks from our house. He recently started walking to school (last spring). We live in a nice residential neighborhood. I admit that I had major reservations but he is growing up in a city and next September, he may be attending a new school closer to downtown Philadelphia and will be taking the bus to get there. As a city kid, we have to foster his independence.
Thinking back on my own childhood, I took two city buses to school in Brooklyn (Utica to Church Ave and then the Church Ave bus to Flatbush) when I was in 3rd grade. He’s going into 4th so walking three blocks was not a huge stretch. We followed him for the first week to make sure he was going to school and crossing at the intersections. Finally, we let go. He was so excited to have responsibility and he did just fine.
Yesterday, the news story broke about a young boy in Brooklyn. A year younger than my son. He asked his mom to walk home from camp and she gave him permission. His first time walking home, he was abducted by a stranger living in the neighborhood and went missing. With the aid of traffic cameras, they saw the man that approached him and tracked him down. The police found blood in his apartment and he finally confessed. They found the boy dismembered, stuffed into a suitcase and thrown in a dumpster.
My heart breaks for this family. Especially for the parent that also chose to let go of her son and grant him a little independence by allowing him to walk home for the first time. I know that mom will always hold that in her heart. That “what if”. Even though I am sure her son was thrilled to take those steps by himself like a big kid. Poor baby just didn’t know that evil was lurking so close to him.
I admit, I get desensitized by the news. So many tragedies sometimes that I can’t keep up. Every once in a while, one story touches me. I won’t forget this one for a long time.
Rest in peace Leiby Kletzky.