Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why my kids will ride the bus

Last night, Superman and I went to Kindergarten Open House at our sons' soon-to-be-Elementary-school.

We were very happy to meet the principal and their future teachers, and learn more about the school where Thing 1 and Thing 2 will be attending in the fall. And they were beyond excited to meet their future classmates and do lots of activities and play games.

But one thing that happened struck me as very odd.  During the school tour, the principal took us to the school entrance and proceeded to spend nearly 20 minutes explaining the complicated pick up/drop off procedure.  Superman and I kept looking at each other, wondering if we were missing something.  Did we have to pick up the kids every day?  She was talking to us as if it was assumed we'd all be picking up and dropping off.

Finally, we raised our hands and said "What about the kids riding the bus?"  And then she spent about 3 minutes explaining the bus procedure.  And we were happy with the explanation.

Afterwards, another parent came up to me, and this was the gist of our conversation:

Concerned Parent: Are you going to let your child ride the bus?
Me: Yes.
CP: We thought about it, but I just don't know....How would he know what bus to get on, or where the bus stop is?
Me: Well, um, I imagine the kids will follow the other elementary kids in the neighborhood and get on with them.
Superman: Also, you can call the school and ask.
CP: They know other kids who ride the bus?
Me: Yes, our neighbors' kids ride the bus.  They play outside with them almost everyday, so they know them pretty well.
CP: Aren't you afraid they'll get on the wrong bus in the afternoon?
Me: Not really. Kids learn pretty quickly who their bus driver is. If they started to get on a bus and didn't recognize the driver, or the other kids on the bus, I'm pretty sure they'd get off.
CP: I'm just afraid my son would get on the wrong bus and get dropped off at the wrong place and be wandering the neighborhood frightened and alone.  (I should mention the Kindergarten has an older brother who will be in the 1st grade next year.)
Me: Did you not ride the bus as a child?
CP: Oh, I did.
Me: Did you ever get on the wrong bus and get dropped off at the wrong neighborhood?
CP: No.
Me: Neither did I, so I'm not too worried.

And I'm not.  I rode the bus from Kindergarten through 1st grade.  Then we moved, and from 2nd grade until 5th grade, my brother (one year older) and I were walkers.  Not only did we walk about 6 blocks everyday to school unsupervised, but our parents left for work way before we left for school, so we were responsible for getting dressed, eating breakfast, and leaving in time so that we weren't late for school.  Then we moved again, and from 6th grade through 8th grade I rode the bus again. And I never worried about getting on the bus, I just worried about missing it!  Because if we missed the bus, we had to walk.  And it was a long walk with a heavy book bag.

Can bad things sometimes happen on the bus?  Do bad things happen sometimes when kids are walking to school?  Yes and yes.  Bad things can and sometimes do happen.  And when they do, they make the national news.  Why?  Because it's RARE!  That is what makes it news!  You never see a headline: Kindergartner successfully rides the school bus back and forth everyday to school with no incident because it isn't newsworthy. It happens everyday.  MUCH more often than a bus getting into an accident or a kid getting abducted.

What my kids will learn from riding the bus: Courage. Independence. Responsibility.

What my kids would learn from me dropping them off everyday at school because I am afraid of them getting hurt/lost/abducted/made fun of/picked on/etc: Fear.

To me, the choice is very easy.


  1. Bryce rides the bus home from school but we drop him off in the mornings. Mostly, we drop him off out of our own laziness and not wanting to get out of bed an extra 30 minutes early to have him at the bus stop on time; it's much easier just to drop him off at school on the way to work.
    I do have to say that Bryce's bus driver, Mr. Frasier is awesome! He runs that bus like a well oiled machine (pun intended)! He has a system, the kindergartners sit in the seats closest to the front and the rest fill in front to back by their grade. This helps to avoid too many 5th graders picking on 1st graders. I have to say this still takes place, but we teach Bryce to stand up for himself and he can handle those 5th graders by simply ignoring them. Sometimes the best part of Bryce's day is the bus ride home. It's a social time with his friends, a chance to decompress.

  2. Amen! If my kids attended schools that actually had a bus, they would be riding them right along with the other neighborhood children. The only problem we have around here is that kindergarten students have to have a parent at the bus stop to get the child off the bus.