Five years ago I never would have thought I’d be willing to put my older son on a bus to get him to Kindergarten. In fact I remember a friend and I scoffing over lunch, wondering what kind of parent thought a kid that young was old enough to ride a bus alone. (For those of you who know me, this story goes along the same lines as “my kid will never sleep in my bed” or “my kid will never drink juice…”) Like those other high and mighty plans, my conviction that a five-year-old kid shouldn’t ride the bus went to the wayside. This year we signed him up for our neighborhood route – the green line.
Two months into the school year, I can tell you that our son is doing just fine on the bus. He loves it. In the morning he gets to wait for it at the end of our street with all the other kids (kindergarten kids automatically get to stand in the front of the line and they sit in the seats at the front of the bus). At noon, the bus drops him off at our house. Talk about living the life!
While he’s now completely into riding the bus, I wasn’t so sure he was going to like it as the school year approached. The week before school started I received a phone call asking if I might be able to ride the bus one of the first days to help the kindergarten kids adjust. Having taken the first week of school off from work, I was happy to volunteer.
When I mentioned to my son that I’d be riding the bus on Friday that week, he was thrilled. When I said I’d be getting on three stops before his, he looked at me in disbelief.
“I want you to get on at MY stop!” he hollered.
“There might be kids who get on before your stop who need help,” I rationalized to him.
“I don’t want you to help other kids!” I knew our conversation was going nowhere fast. After a few days, and a few deals (I put a photo of our family in his backpack and gave him a special heart charm on a ribbon) he agreed that I should ride the bus from the first stop.
That Friday, my husband and sons took me to the stop that was about a mile from our house and then drove home so that he could wait at his own stop. I stood at the other stop, waiting with a dad and his daughter and a few other kids. Once I was on the bus, I chatted up the bus driver, Linda, trying to get in good with her so that she could keep a special eye on my sweet boy.
As we drove up to our street, I spotted him from my front seat on the bus. I waved. My younger son and my husband waved back. I could tell my older son was beyond excited to be riding the bus for the second day. As he bounded up the steps of the bus, I scooted over to make sure he had room to sit by me. Imagine my surprise when the same boy who was adamant that I not help anyone else darted to another seat and sat next to one of his classmates without so much as giving me a smile. Another neighbor boy who is also in kindergarten hauled his backpack up the steps and I asked if he wanted to sit next to me.
“Sure thing!” he said and sat next to me for the 10-minute ride to school.
At the age of five, was my son ready to ride the bus? Sure thing.