If you ask my daughter what her favorite thing about school is, you will get the same answer every time: riding the bus.
This has been a huge surprise to me. Didn’t Molly Ringwald teach us that all kids “loathe the bus?" I know, Emma is only a first grader, so perhaps she hasn’t had the chance to become jaded against the experience.
But she rode the bus all last year and continues to do so with much enthusiasm this year, even when many of her friends, after the newfound sense of independence wore off, have opted instead to be “car riders."
I was reluctant to let her ride the bus in the first place. We’ve all heard horror stories about kids being bullied or left at bus stops alone. The over-protective parent in me didn’t want to relinquish control. I agonized over the decision.
But Emma begged, and I knew the potential for problems was as minimal as it could be. We’re lucky that Emma attends a school that only houses kindergarten and first grade so the threat of being bullied is practically nil.
The buses for her school are driven by teacher’s assistants, so I didn’t have to worry about the competence and maturity of the person behind the wheel. And since I would be at the bus stop every day myself, I could let go of the fear of my baby being abandoned at a busy intersection with no one to intercept her. I took a leap of faith, and it’s turned out to be Emma’s favorite part of the day.
It won’t always be this way. Second grade for my kids will be at a school about 200 yards away from my front door. Riding the bus won’t be an option. And middle school, well, I’m sure my fears will come back in full force, and not without merit. If I’m unable to take them myself, I’m sure I’ll make other arrangements for them to get to school.
For now, I watch Emma on that bus, looking so incredibly small in the seat and so very grown-up, all at the same time. And I’m glad she’ll have it as a happy memory.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. She is the author of a food addiction memoir called "Designated Fat Girl." Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.