I could drive my kids to school every day, but I choose not to. They both take the school bus and I honestly feel like I’m doing them a favor by not providing mom chauffeur service. Because every time that big yellow bus pulls away from the curb, I’m preparing them for the real world. Here’s what it teaches them:
Be on time.
The bus waits for no one. It’ll leave with or without you. Maybe in elementary school, there’s some leeway but by middle school and high school, the lesson becomes clear – if you’re late then you’re out of luck. Employers don’t care about why you overslept or that you couldn’t find your favorite shirt. Punctuality matters in the real world. It’s an important lesson. Why not teach it to your kids before they get fired?
Make the best of a situation.
Parents often worry that their child won’t have any “friends on the bus.” But, I guarantee, what they will have is a seat. It might not be their first choice but the bus will get them to where there need to go. If it causes your child anxiety not to sit with his or her “best friend” then have them bring a book or music with headphones. In fact, some alone time is good. Much of our time as adults is spent sitting next to someone who isn’t our first choice. Try to stretch your child’s comfort zone. They might make some new friends. Often they’ll develop a set of “bus friends.” Life isn’t perfect.
You are not the sole focus of the planet.
There are other kids on your child’s bus. Sometimes the ride might be too noisy or too quiet. It’s important to understand that the world does not revolve around you nor does the bus. However, we are all in this ride together. This lesson is ongoing through life.
The driver accidently missed your child’s stop. Why? Because mistakes happen. Your child should learn to speak up and be heard when necessary. Teach your children that it’s important communicate their needs and to question adults. Telling the bus driver that they’ve missed their stop is a great opportunity to speak up and trust themselves. A little independence goes a long way.
Not everything is plush.
The bus is not plush. Yes, and that’s true for life as well. You can’t always ride in the comfort of captain chairs in the back of an SUV. Your child doesn’t have to have the DVD player, air conditioner and surround-sound to be ok in life. The only must-haves are safe transportation and a responsible driver. Not everything has to be luxurious.
Show up and work hard.
The bus driver is an amazing example of someone who shows up and works hard. Imagine waking up before the dawn and then driving a busload full of children around for the next few hours. Well, that’s what the driver does every day. It’s not a glamorous job but, they are showing up and working hard. They are taking your children where they need to go. And if you don’t already, please give your bus driver a holiday gift. Bake cookies, write a card- show some appreciation and have your child do the same!
Friends whose children don’t take the bus all tell me that they love the conversations they have with their kids to and from school. And I’ll admit, that’s one thing that I do miss. However, with all of my children’s extracurricular activities, I feel like we have enough “car time” together. Living in Los Angeles, it seems like we are always in the car!
I also make a conscious effort to make time for face-to-face talks. It doesn’t always have to be from behind the wheel. In fact, as I have a pre-pubescent adolescent girl, it’s probably safer for everyone on the road if our conversations occur outside of a moving vehicle.
If it’s an option for your child to take the school bus, well then I would highly recommend it. It will save you time, help traffic and most importantly teach your children some valuable life-long lessons.