Every morning when my husband or I put B on the bus, I'm happy.
Not because I'm getting rid of my kid for the day. It makes me happy because Ben still likes riding the bus, and has been successful doing it. It's such a mundane thing. Most people put their kid on the bus each morning without a second thought. Some refues to even allow their child to set foot on a bus, for reasons I don't fully understand (it's free transportation to school!). But, for me, it's so much more.
When K started kindergarten, she also took the bus. It was the most exciting part of kindergarten for her. She had spent 2 1/2 years seeing the bus drop kids off every morning, when I took her to preschool at the local elementary. She would get so excited, and tell me she wanted to ride the bus. You will in kindergarten, I told her. You have to be 5 to take the bus! Every morning it was the same script. She just really loved the idea of taking the bus.
K made it 1 1/2 years on the bus, and it wasn't easy. The bus was loud. She didn't have any friends. In first grade she started getting bullied. She loved the bus, but didn't love everything that went along with it. We tried getting her special ed transportation at one point, but were told there was a "stigma" that came with taking a van, and surely we didn't want K subjected to that. We were told they wanted K to have the most typical school experience possible, and that included riding the bus. It was my first rodeo, and I went along with it, as long as I could.
I think I kept her on the bus as long as I did because she spent 2+ years obsessed with riding it. I so wanted it to be a positive, fun, experience for her. I wanted to hang on to that little bit of normal. During that time, school was going so badly, and I needed the bus to be the one positive we had left. If she just rode the bus, everything would be OK.
Once the bullying started, I had to admit things weren't working. We started driving her to and from school. It was one of the more difficult things to let go of, mostly because it was something K had been so excited about.
Eventually, the school offered us transportation, and we accepted. K's days on the bus were officially over. Our days of doing anything "typical" when it came to school were behind us.
When B started kindergartent his year, he was excited about the bus, too.
Actually, he was excited to take the van (it was all he really knew, seeing K take it each day), but eventually he got excited about taking the bus.
So far, his experience has been a positive one. He has friends on the bus. He sits with them, talks, laughs (sometimes a bit too much, but thankfully we have a really nice bus driver, and she's worked with us through some more trying behavioral times). He never complains about the ride. It's a time for him to see his friends before and after school. They plan play dates. They are silly together. Sometimes, it's a warm place for an afternoon nap.
I am not trying my best to make the bus work. It just is.
This morning I gave B a kiss, and watched as he ran across the street to board the bus, and I just stood there, waving. Heart swollen. More grateful than any other parent, I am sure, that my son can ride the bus.
I have been struggling a lot lately with K missing out on any type of typical school experience. A lot. She misses out on so much, not being part of the community. Although I know the school she attends is peferct for her, it's still hard going to programs at the elementary school, and knowing she can't be a part. Or seeing old classmates around town, and wishing she could be with them everyday. I am thankful that B can be a part of his neighborhood school, and have a fairly typical experience.
Who would think something as routine as riding the school bus could make me so happy.
But it does.