Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baby steps

This week Sophia, born 1999, took her first solo Metrorail journey from suburban Silver Spring, MD downtown to DC's Farragut North station to meet her mom for an eye doctor appointment.

Well, sort of.

The journey was meticulously orchestrated from start to finish by her parents. Here's how it worked.

* Dad lent Sophia his Android phone, complete with a crash course on how to make a voice call and text message.

* Sophia's first text message to her mom:

"Test... hi its Sophia I'm just trying out dads phone we are leaving soon"

* Dad, working from home, collected the kids in the Pilot and headed for the Metro parking lot.

Sophia's second text message: "Ok we are going to the station"

Mom's reply from her iPhone: "Ok why don't you text me when you get to NY Avenue Station, just before u enter the underground segment of the journey"

At the Metro entrance, after the boys were instructed to wait patiently for a short time by the ticket machines, dad and daughter swiftly entered the transit system and took the escalator to the platform, where there was a train poised to depart. "Shady Grove, that's the right one", insisted Sophia, who'd been prepped what to look for and do at this point by mom the previous night. To which dad responded, "Have a good trip!" as she boarded, the doors closed, and the Metro headed south. Dad hurried down the opposite escalator for a reunion with the boys and the return home. Total time: ~ 20 mins.

* Sophia's first text message to her mom from the train: "kk on the train right now c u soon!"

Mom: "Hooray! Really proud of you for doing this on your own! So far so good?"

Sophia: "Yep ok I'm at rhode island leaving there right now"

Sophia a few minutes later: "Now I'm at new york ave."

Mom: "Ok, I'm walking down to Farragut North now. C u soon!

Sophia: "k"

* Sophia sees her mom and texts her from the platform at Farragut North: "Hi"

* Mom phones dad a few minutes later to say, "The package has arrived."

Epilogue

This was not exactly an easy thing to do, either for Sophia or her parents. But her parents believe that it is essential for children of a certain age, initially with hand holding of their guardians, to take "baby steps" on the way to achieving their independence in the world, despite all the troubles that have made us collectively wary of doing such things. Because, if not, what sort of powers of freedom will our children be able to call upon when they become adults?