This week the Velo Family has the special treat of being part of a student documentary focused on displaying the point of view of its subjects. Specifically, how a family living car-free gets from point A to B with ease. Filming us as I pick up my daughter from school and head to a doctor's appointment, my husband commuting to and from work on his trusted bicycle, and the whole family heading out for our weekly trip to the swimming pool, the director and her team hope to capture the spirit of this blog - that life can go on as usual without depending on a car.
We are quite honoured to be the inspiration for this project. I have to admit that having someone follow you along as you do a daily trip made me realize how I take what we do for granted about our lifestyle. I never think of us as being a unique family, knowing there are other families out there who don't have cars. However, every day, Monday to Friday, I walk the same route with my kids, dropping my daughter off for another day at school. Some days we bike, but it's always the same, never involving getting behind the wheel of a car, and that's pretty special.
Aside from the obvious health benefits of walking or biking every day and getting in our daily physical activity, there are a couple added bonuses of travelling this way. One very big benefit is that my children know their neighbourhood as well, if not better, than many adults living in the area. They know which way to go to get to their school, the local community centre, library and, of course, the local grocers. My four year old son even goes so far as to ask to take different routes once and a while, knowing the alternate paths to certain locations, and can tell when I'm deviating from our route. It's a pretty special thing to know you're kids can get themselves around their neighbourhood without having their parents guide them the whole way. They still have a ways to go before we'll let them do those trips without us, but its comforting to know they're already getting set for their future independence.
A surprising benefit of these trips are the stories we get to share. On our walks home from school, my kids can tell me about their days, and I can see their excitement, frustration and fascination with the activities of the day. We talk face to face, instead of half listening from the front seat while concentrating on the traffic ahead. It is something I take for granted once and a while, because it is such common occurrence for us, but I do miss it on days when my husband takes them to school on those rare days I have to work. On our family bike rides, my husband and I get to experience the world through their point of view. They marvel at the animals, the boats in the harbour, and, most recently, the beautiful snow capped mountains.
So, an examination of the point of view of our family helped me to remember why it is that we are very lucky. I get to experience so much of my children's lives in a very personal way. I share in their wonder on a nearly daily basis, and they have their parents close at hand to reassure them and guide them when they need it. I am a lucky parent to be able to live my life in such a way, and am thankful for the opportunity to raise my kids in a way that afford them the chance to know their neighbourhood while sharing their excitement with me.