One morning last week the world was painted with a brush dipped in frost. I cycle past a primary school on my way to college. After weaving my way through the mess of cars trying to push their way as close as possible to the school gate, I crossed into a park right beside the school. There’s an estate on the other side of it, which means a good few families can opt to walk along the winding tarred paths through the park with their kids. To watch these littlies interact with the suddenly slippy world was simply delightful.
The excitement on those glowing faces, as they slid their feet along and slip-slid to school. What an amazing experience it must have been! The sensation of cold on your cheeks, of the snug warmth of your coat, hat, and gloves, of Mom or Dad’s safe hand whenever you needed it for a moment before dashing off to explore the unfamiliar familiar once more. The balance lessons, as this slidey world met your feet. The stimulating sights as you explored the delicate ice patterns on grass and leaves, as you listened to the crunch of frost beneath your feet.
Is it not heartbreaking that this burst of pure joy is denied most of the children in Ireland? That most of them were instead locked away, on their journey to school, inside a metal box cutting off all these awesome sensations, these valuable stimulants for growing little brains?
Imagine if these parents were given an environment they felt was safe for them and their children to negotiate outside the padded, isolated loneliness of their moving prison. Imagine if society prioritised family wellbeing and adapted hours and expectations to allow the parents to walk or cycle to school with their littlies before going on to work.
Wouldn’t that be grand.