This isn’t my first time at this, and I’m surprised at how nervous I am even this second time around. I don’t like to think of myself as an overly anxious parent, you know? So, please don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, and I certainly don’t appreciate when people try to tell me how to do mine. But I just want you to know, up front, that when you pull away from the end of my block today you’ll be taking my heart with you.
I know that as the yellow school bus pulls away from the curb I’ll be straining to see if my kids are waving. I also know that I’ll be torn between wanting to play it cool and running alongside the bus blowing frantic kisses. The kids are young enough that it doesn’t embarrass them yet, and I need to take advantage as long as it lasts.
My youngest, my daughter, is so excited to ride the bus to school like her big brother. So excited. But she’s also nervous that she’ll have trouble with her seatbelt or that she will leave her lunch on the bus. And that’s on top of wondering if she’ll find her class or make Kindergarten friends.
My son, the old pro, is less worried about finding his class, but he still wonders about whether rough kids will sit next to him and about whether someone will make fun of the t-shirt he picked out for his first day of second grade.
I don’t want them to get special attention, not more than anyone else’s children. But could you do me a favor and give them a grin and a “Good Morning!” when they get on the bus? You’d probably do that anyway, but just in case, you know?
I understand that you have a schedule to keep and scores of children to drive around all morning. It’s not an easy job, and I know how rushed drivers and pedestrians are around here. But you should know that I get nervous even when my own parents are driving my kids around. I rarely even let them ride in cars driven by trusted friends. Heck, I get nervous driving around myself with the way people chat on phones and race through lights and take tight turns. In case you didn’t know, I am trusting you to bring my son, my daughter, to their first day of school safely and on-time. But mostly safely.
No, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job. But I know how horrible kids can be sometimes. I know how mean and vicious and ugly they can be. And that’s what we all remember more easily. I know that. But that’s not my kid — not now, and with any luck it won’t ever be.
So please, School Bus Driver, when you open the doors of your bus to let my two-part heart climb up those big steps and sit in a seat that’s two sizes too large, please don’t mind the quivering, teary-eyed lady who looks like she is about to implode. Just be careful with her heart – disguised as a five-year-old girl and a nervously protective big brother.
A version of this post first appeared on Barista Kids two years ago.