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The Bus

Simon will head off to kindergarten in 11 days. The where is no surprise, as I set my sights on Brandeis back in November. The when is also no surprise, as I’ve been staring at the Jefferson County Public Schools calendar for months now. It’s the how that is shocking people.

Simon is going to ride the bus to school.* And why is he riding the bus when his mom (me) could easily drive him every day? Let me count the whys:

  1. He wants to. “Bus” was one of Simon’s first words, and he’s been asking about riding one for years now.
  2. His cousin Ben will be on the bus.
  3. His friend Rhys will be on the bus.
  4. It’s the ecologically correct thing to do.
  5. It will foster his growing sense of independence.
  6. It will make him feel like a hot-shot.

The choice seems obvious to me, but it’s shocking all my friends. When I tell them, I hear one of two things: It’s either “YOU’RE letting him ride the bus?” or “You’re letting him ride THE BUS?” depending on their angle. My more laid-back friends can’t believe that I, whom they consider an anxious, hovering parent, could possibly put Simon on a school bus heading downtown without having an anxiety attack or two. My less laid-back friends, the ones who consider me a sister in stress, cannot believe that someone who seemed like a responsible parent would put their beloved child on the rolling youth-detention-center-cum-death-trap that is the school bus. Isn’t the bus where the expression “hell on wheels” came from?

In all of these discussions, I have only encountered one person who seemed neither surprised nor concerned. She’s a fellow Brandeis parent I met at a PTA meeting and then for lunch, and when I told her of Simon’s transportation plans she had these soothing words to say:

“He’ll be fine. The kids are good, and the driver is a National Guardsman. The worse you have to deal with is ____ ______ , and he’s a good kid at heart. Just white knuckle it and have a stiff drink at the ready.”

According to multiple reports, ____ _____ is given to colorful language, gender discrimination, and the occasional launching of projectiles on the bus, all of which sounds pretty typical for a fourth-grade boy. I’m not super eager for Simon to pick up those habits, but I suspect he’s already witnessed much of this in preschool. If Simon wants an up-close view of such behavior, his cousin Ben has offered to smuggle him into the back seats where he, as an elementary upperclassman, is allowed to sit and where the miscreants are most likely to be found. I think we’ll pass on his kind and generous offer and have Simon sit up front where he can drive the bus driver bonkers with questions about streets and speed limits.**

As for the stiff drink, I won’t be having that either. Turns out, I won’t even be there. Brandeis asked for parent volunteers to help out the first day of school, and I was happy to help out and start becoming a part of this new community. But the punchline is that they need me at school by 8:00, and Simon won’t catch his bus until 8:16. So it’s up to Matt to deliver Simon to the bus-stop and wave madly as he disappears from view.

And really, the only thing I’m anxious about is whether Matt can be trusted to capture the moment with our camera. Because yeah, I’m going to let Simon ride the bus. Whatever that means.

*Given how long the day will be and that I’m at home, I will be picking him up from school so he can rest and eat sooner.

**The driver might well prefer Simon to sit in the back! He is still a horrible back-seat driver, offering up a constant running commentary about what streets you are on, how fast you and others are driving, and whether you remembered to use your turn signal. By the end of the first week Simon will be able to tell me the best way to school, and the driver will probably be fed up with hearing that he’s going 4 miles over the limit.

One Response to “The Bus”

  1. Amanda says:

    I walked to school, from kindergarten until high school when I lived too far away. I survived. Simon will enjoy the bus.

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