Brae and Sienna each started kindergarten and preschool, respectively, last week.
Brae has been excited all summer to ride the school bus, get a new backpack, eat lunch at school, and play outside during recess. I also loved school (so much that I stayed in it for 19 years straight!). In fact, when the school supplies list came out, I could almost smell the aroma of freshly-sharpened pencils. A natural high.
Sienna’s preschool is at the same location as her daycare, so the excitement was not as high for her. I tried to get her pumped by getting her some back-to-school clothes, and telling her that even though she was still at the same building, she was now a pre-schooler and not just a day-care attendee. I’m not sure she bought it.
The night before kindergarten, we sprinkled some glitter on each of the kids’ heads (courtesy of the kindergarten teacher), said a special prayer (that I cried during), and went to bed early. Brae even wore his entire first-day-of-school outfit (shoes included) to bed. (Yes, I did that too… maybe even beyond just kindergarten).
The next morning, Brae was up bright and early, ready to take the bus. We drove to the bus stop (about 100 yards away), and Sienna and Graem and I waited in the car as we watched him board the bus.
Then, I followed the bus.
In my car.
About 5 blocks, to school.
I was that mom.
Sienna, Graem, and I then greeted Brae off the bus and walked him to his class. He did not even hesitate walking through that pivotal door, barely mustering a “good-bye” as he skipped into his teacher’s arms.
Then, things went south.
That first day, the school bus was early dropping him off, and I had not yet arrived at the stop to meet him. So (I guess thankfully), they kept him on the bus, driving around, until I could gather my frantic wits enough to call the school, who called the bus barn, who radioed to the driver to bring Brae back.
Then, the second day of school, the teachers forgot to put him on the bus. So, there I stood, at the stop, eager to greet him only to realize he was not on the bus. Another frantic phone call.
Then, the third day of school, I waited at the stop for him, and again he did not get off the bus. This time, however, he was on the bus, but completely unaware of when/where he had to get off. Poor little guy. So, I boarded the bus and found him blissfully in space, surprised to see me on his bus, beckoning him off.
All of this made me wonder whether kindergartners should even be allowed to ride school buses at all. In fact, I was about ready to pack the whole thing in and ship him off to private school where there are no school buses.
But, no, I said, he has to do this. For him.
It is my job as his parent to protect him (of course), but also to instill self-confidence in him. I’m not raising a child; I’m raising a man. If the purpose of childhood is to equip my son with the tools needed to bravely face this challenging world, then allowing him to take the school bus is one big giant step in that direction.
It is a new week, and he’s taking the bus again.
And I’m still following it in my car.