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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bus Riding Blues

By Katie M

It was only one year ago that I swore I would never put my child on a school bus. Then came the sale of our house and the purchase of a new one. And with the new house came a great school zone, the convenience of a bus stop steps from our home, the freedom from early morning drives (and pick-ups during my son’s nap time), and one very excited little Kindergartner. So, I caved. And I have to admit, it’s been a really nice perk to have what is practically a door-to-door service at my disposal for free.

Yet, I still can’t completely ignore the concerns (see list below) I had just months ago. That coupled with comments from other parents who also swore against the bus. They have said things like, “I can’t believe you’re letting her take the bus. I remember what it was like when I rode the bus, and I don’t want my child exposed to that.” And not to mention some of the things I’ve heard my daughter recite and repeat since being a bus-rider. The worst of which was questioning the existence of Santa Claus! So, does the convenience of this free bus service come with a cost, or am I being crazy?

So here were my reasons for not ever wanting my child to ride a bus:

1.) There are no seat belts. Wearing a seat belt is a basic “rule” in our car that we worked hard to establish and have no exceptions for. Needless to say explaining the lack of seat belts on the bus was not an easy conversation.

2.) My mother’s fear which has been my inherited fear since giving birth. See my past blog on How To Talk to Your Kids About Talking to Strangers.

3.) The occasional news reports of bus accidents. Yea, lots of times they are minor accidents that happen due to very rare circumstances and usually happen somewhere far, far away. But still, they are impossible to ignore and forget.

4.) The conversations you can’t control. Everyone knows lots of things are learned on the bus! I honestly think my first discussion on the “birds and bees” happened on my elementary school bus, and the fact that my five-year-old questioned Santa Claus after just one month on riding the bus did not sit well with me.

5.) The bullies in the back of the bus. They were there when I rode the bus (mainly in middle school) and I know they are still around. They may be a different kind of bully from when I went to school, but they still exist. Thankfully my child is young enough that she doesn’t even consider sitting anywhere but right behind the bus driver. Ok, and I also might have hinted that the “cool” kids sit in the front. So, maybe I'm raising a geek, but at least she’s she'll be a safe, protected geek!

All that being said, I recognize that millions of children ride the bus every day and school systems take every measure possible to keep our kids safe. And like I said earlier, my daughter is thrilled to be a “bus rider” and I’m excited about the many friendships she has already developed because of her bus stop and bus rides. I rode the bus for 10 years straight (Kindergarten – 10th grade) and some of my funniest memories from school happened either on the bus or at the bus stop. I feel like it’s a “rite of passage” every school age child should get to experience at least at some point. So, despite my concerns outlined above, we will continue to use the bus service (maybe not every day, but often anyway) and I’ll continue to keep my fingers crossed that all goes well.

Is your child a “bus rider”? Why, or why not? Do you share the same concerns? Or better yet, what can you add to this post to support my bus riding decision?

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Anonymous said...

I shared all your same concerns, but had to let them go. We have to make good, informed decisions for our children, but then trust that God is in control regardless. (not so easy, right?) One, I'm not sure not having seatbelts is the safest thing, but our bus doesn't leave the neighborhood once my daughter gets on, so I pretend that the slow speeds help. (probably should advocate for seatbelts instead). I'm not sure as she gets older when I will let her go to the bus stop by herself, though! (possibly never...) And my goodness, the stuff my daughter has heard from the boys in her 1st grade class way trumps the junk she hears on the bus! That's why we as good parents talk with our children, know what's going on in their lives, and confirm/deny/clarify stuff they hear in the world (which is where they have to live).


Anonymous said...

I learned about Santa Claus and "the birds and the bees" WALKING to and from school each day in elementary school. If they're going to find out, they're going to find out.

Lisa Witherspoon said...

I agree completely - My oldest started riding the bus 2 months into Kindergarten mostly because I could not take sitting in the car line with a whiny 2 yr. old and a crying newborn any longer. She is now in 2nd grade. We have only had one real problem on the bus and it was quickly resolved by her school. She loves riding the bus and it has certainly made my life easier.

- Lisa

Anonymous said...

I am the mother of a kindergartener who has riden the bus from day 1. He was so excited, and still is, to get on that big yellow school bus with the "big kids." With a three year old and a napping baby at home, the bus saves my sanity! As far as what they hear on the bus, here is our chance as parents to teach our kids to come talk to us about anything they hear that confuses them or that they have questions about.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that all the above comments were in favor of the bus! I expected many more moms to chime in with how we are damaging our kids by letting them ride! Thanks for making me feel good about my decision. My kids ride the bus and we love it for many reasons. Two of the biggies are saving gas money and helping the environment! Even if only one child is on a bus, it is going to run. So why not put forty kids on the bus and save forty cars from running that morning?

Anonymous said...

not sure that the big yellow bus is saving our environment though. i think 40 cars might do better than the black tar that flies out of the back of those things!

Anonymous said...

My kid's school is out of zone, so riding the bus is not a choice. If it was, they'd be riding. It's a rite of passage.

And as an old high school friend said recently about his son riding the bus, "If you can survive riding the bus, you can survive pretty much anything life throws at you!"

Anonymous said...

I think all of the rough times on the bus really come later. I rode a rough bus, but I am sure it toughened me up some.

Anonymous said...

Your concerns are valid, but ultimately I think "protecting" our little ones from the reality of life does more harm than good. Like any school experience, it's our job as parents to ask the kiddos the right questions and then direct any questions/concerns to the school as needed -- and to remain vigilant! Wish I was home in the afternoons so my little guy could ride the bus! (We don't wake up early enough to catch it in the mornings!)

Anonymous said...

Glad to read the comments about riding the bus... going to put my K and 2nd grader on one for the first time next week... Close my eyes, say a prayer, and let them go.... :)

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