One more step Theo has taken on the slow road to independence is going on little shopping errands for me. At the end of our street is the Takegaki, a small neighbourhood green grocer that Theo and I have been to hundreds of times since moving to Fukuyama. About a month ago, I decided that he was trustworthy enough to write out a short list in hiragana, not lose the money I gave him, walk there by himself, buy the correct food, and manage to get himself and the food home safely. For the record, I would never have allowed him to do this in Canada where I would almost definitely be reported for negligence. Here in Japan though, children walking unsupervised to and from school, the park, and extra curricular programs is completely normal after the age of 6. Since April, he has been walking over a kilometer to school each morning with a group of other children and another kilometer back home in the afternoon, sometimes with other students and sometimes by himself. I was very incredulous of this system at first, and sure that Theo would get lost or hit by a car, but after only a few minor incidents in his first week it seems to actually work just fine.
Theo was very excited when I explained what I wanted him to do and was eager to be entrusted with this little errand. He set off on a trot down the street promising me that this would be the fastest trip to the Takegaki ever. Fifteen minutes later he was back again and so proud that he had gotten every single thing on my list. The shop owner had even sealed up his change in a paper envelope and taped it shut. Thank you Theo for not letting me down, especially since your dad thought I was insane for trusting you to do this.