My Kids Don’t Ride The School Bus And They Are Better Off For It

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bus kidsWhen I went back to work, I knew that unless my schedule changed over the next few years, my kids were likely going to be in before and after school daycare once they entered elementary school. As a parent, I think it is hard to imagine the all-important First Day of School without that Hallmark-perfect scene of your official “big kid” climbing up the steps of the bus, probably with an adorable tag hanging around their neck with their name and their teacher’s name in case they are misplaced between your driveway and school. It was the scene I had in mind when my daughter started school and I was very upset initially that we would be bringing her to daycare ourselves instead of letting her ride the bus. This was until I remembered the bus rides of my younger years and began to comfort myself about our situation- my kids don’t ride the school bus and they are better off for it.

Now, I won’t say that riding the school bus as a kid was the worst thing in the world. It had it’s good moments and it’s bad with plenty of mundane in between. I went to a pretty small school in the kind of town families rarely leave once they are settled in- so I rode the bus with basically the same kids from kindergarten through my senior year. No, my parents did not buy me a car. Yes, I am still a little bitter.

When I think back to anything negative that I witnessed amongst my peers, I have to admit- most of the time, it happened on the bus. This small school that I went to was very loving and kind of strange in that not many kids got bullied or cast aside but the few instances I can remember seeing happened on the bus. There was one very overweight girl and a few completely terrible boys that would make fun of her. She was big enough that the bus shook a little when she stepped on and of course, they would all just take that and run with it. I remember wondering if her parents knew she was being teased so badly on the bus and whether she had asked her mom to drive her to school instead. I know I would have begged for that if I were her.

Besides the “anything goes” atmosphere, there was also a ton of boredom. I got car sick easily so I could never read or do my homework. I was picked up last in the morning and dropped off last in the afternoon so my ride home was around 45 minutes of wasted time. I have no great memories of my time riding the bus and a few kind of awful ones so I began to wonder why I was so in love with this image of my children boarding the bus and heading off to school. I know it has to do with what it symbolizes for me as a working mother- that my hours are flexible enough to allow me to stay home until they get on the bus and to be home when they are dropped off. Once I realized the root of my sadness, it was much easier to get over.

My daughter was a different story. She was VERY sad that there would be no bus- at the fricktillion orientation events we had attended, the bus had figured very prominently in the various presentations we sat through. During one session, the kids were separated from the parents and got to take a “practice” bus ride and of course, my daughter went along even though she would not be a bus kid that fall. She came back blubbering to me about how sad she was that she wouldn’t get to ride the bus. That was when I started to hype up our little situation. She would get to ride to school with Mommy or Daddy every morning and we would sing songs and stop for doughnuts and it would be SO much better than the stupid bus. She dried her tears and valiantly tried to move on.

She is mostly ok with it now but there are still times where she brings it up and asks me when I can be “a mom who stays at home” so that she and her brother can be bus kids. I tell her that I don’t know if that will ever happen but that she really isn’t missing much by not riding the bus and I mean it. I’m sure it’s not all bad and if my kids ever get to do it, I will be glad because it will mean my schedule is more reasonable than the whirlwind that it is now but I don’t think there is anything so great that she is missing out. Or at least that is what I tell myself and her so that we will be cool with our little doughnut, daycare, drop-off routine.

(Image: Hurst Photo/Shutterstock)