By Katie Moosbrugger
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. And that is the whole ordeal about my child not getting off the bus - a situation I unfortunately put my mom in on the first day of my kindergarten year. That, plus my child getting lost, getting into a car with a stranger, getting off at the wrong stop, etc, etc.
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?