A mother’s survival guide to school bus ridingCASSANDRA WHITE | CONTRIBUTING WRITER Standing in line at the grocery store recently, I overheard a woman talking to her son about riding the school bus for the first time. It brought back memories of my older daughter’s first ride.
She was entering first grade and was more than ready to get on that big, yellow bus. I was the one who thought that it was scary.
As the first day of school arrived and we walked up to the corner, my nerves became more and more pronounced. Would the bus make it there? It was only a mile away but what if it broke down; where would the children go? And who would be on the bus?
I had heard a lot about children learning inappropriate words and gestures from other children. And bullying! What about that? My mind raced with every terrible situation it could think of all involving my daughter.
When the bus did arrive, my daughter kissed me and waved as she got on, sitting in the front row. Thank goodness she listened to me about that. I wanted her right next to the driver. But then I realized that I didn’t know the driver.
I always ask anyone who was going to be in charge of my daughter lots of questions, but I hadn’t done that. Who was this person driving off with my child?
That was enough for me! I ran the five houses down to my home and hopped into my car to follow the bus.
I was impressed that the driver went slower than the speed limit, placed her yellow warning lights on long before she needed to stop, and when she did stop she made sure all cars did too.
I followed the bus all the way to the school parking lot and watched as my daughter got off and went right in the front doors, just like we had practiced many times the week before.
Satisfied, I returned home and walked in just as the phone was ringing. It was my father, making sure all went well.
When I told him about my following the bus, he remembered his first day of school, and how he got on the wrong bus to come home. He rode all over southwest Portland terrified his mom would never find him. (It ended well. As the bus returned to the school, with him as the only passenger, he saw his mom, pushing his little sister in a baby carriage, on the way to school to find him.)
This story sent me into panic mode because I hadn’t even thought twice about how my daughter would make it home.
I spent the next six hours fretting about this, conjuring terrible images in my mind about where she would end up. So, I decided to go up to Mt. Pilchuck and follow the bus home.
As the bell rang, I was hunkering down behind a bush. I couldn’t let her see me because she had told me over and over that she was old enough to take the bus.
When she walked out, I watched her walk from bus to bus looking for the one she was suppose to get on. Did she forget the bus number? We had gone over it a million times!
In a state of panic, I called out to the first teacher that I saw to come over to the bush that I was in. I pointed out my daughter to him and asked him to please help her because she was about to get lost.
He looked at me, a smile on his face, and assured me that wouldn’t happen. He suggested we give her another minute to see if she could figure it out.
I was shocked and wanted to complain to him about this no-help school when I noticed him staring at me. He was probably memorizing my face as a future neurotic parent to stay away from.
I was about to explain to him that even though I was hiding in a bush, I was not crazy when I then saw my daughter get onto the correct bus.
I sprinted out of the bush and to the parking lot to get my car and followed the bus until I was a block from home, when I hurried up a different street in an attempt to get my car home, and walk back up to the corner to see her off of the bus.
When she got off, we hugged and I asked her about the first day of school.
“It was great!” she replied. “But you must be tired!”
“Why?” I asked
“Because you spent the day in the bushes at my school. I saw you there. But that’s OK, Mom; I know that you worry because you love me.”