When my daughter started school this year she had one requested; she wanted to ride the bus. This could have been her only request because she didn’t really understand what she was getting herself into by going to elementary school. Nevertheless, the idea of her riding the bus almost gave me a panic attack.
When she asked if she could do it my response was, “Eh, we’ll see.”
What I really meant to say was, “No way in hell. It cost way too much to get you here alive and healthy and I love you more than life itself.”
I’ve tried not to be a helicopter parent. Despite my tendencies to try and protect her from everything, I’ve really made an effort to take a step back recently and let her spread her wings.
Spreading those wings onto an over-sized piece of metal on wheels without seat belts and questionable turning abilities was a little much for my mama heart.
But it was more than that.
Aside from my concerns over someone snatching her and school bus accidents, my biggest concern was her. She gets so easily distracted and doesn’t pay attention to what she is supposed to be doing a lot of the time. I was very worried she would be in her own little world, or laughing with friends, and not fully listen to where she was supposed to be headed. I imaged her ending up lost, alone and not fully knowing my phone number.
After years of heavy parenting anxiety I finally feel like I’ve started to relax the past few months. Being home with the kids all the time has made me cherish the moments they are away with other family members for the quiet, calm and if it’s overnight, the sleep. However, the idea of her riding that big, yellow school bus gave me motion sickness.
She was persistent. She asked me every time the subject of school came up in the weeks leading to her first day.
When other people asked her about it she told them she was going to ride the bus. They then looked at me with an eyebrow raised.
I was actually surprised that she wanted it so badly. She isn’t a huge fan of stepping outside her comfort zone and she didn’t know anyone at school or really know anyone in our neighborhood well.
After talking to a friend who experienced the same thing with her daughter the year before, I finally gave in.
She desperately wanted this experience and I didn’t want to feel like my fear was the thing holding her back. How was that fair?
When she was very young I kept her from going to sleepovers with family or outings with my mom – afraid she would fall down the basement stairs or would be in a car accident. As she got older, I was always with her when she played outside, even though we have a fenced in backyard.
I realized I had done that to her a lot in her little life. After struggling so much to have a child I tried to safeguard myself from losing her in every way possible.
But recently I recognized that I wasn’t really keeping her safe, I was keeping her from living. Sure it was just little things, but if I couldn’t deal with the little things how was I ever going to handle bigger things?
I knew we would get to a point in life where I was standing in her way – where my fear was holding her back.
I didn’t realize that point would come in the shape of a giant, yellow vehicle full of school children who aren’t strapped into a seat. (Can we seriously just get some seatbelts?!?!)
Not only that but when I did the math, school pick up would fall right at the tail end of my son’s nap meaning I’d have to wake him up early to go get her.
With a deep breath and a heavy sigh I counted on those strangers at school to put my child on the correct bus and make sure she didn’t get distracted along the way. I counted on that bus driver (who coincidently looks like Santa Claus) to get my baby home to me safely. But most of all I counted on my daughter to be a big girl, pay attention to directions and take care of herself a bit.
That was the hardest part of all.
They all did it though. The school administrators, the bus driver and my baby girl all rose to the occasion She was delivered home to me in one piece that first day (and every day since). Not only that but that first day she came running off the bus with a big smile on her face and flung herself into my arms. It was the best hug.
Bus stop pick up in now my favorite time of the day and if you ask my daughter she will always tell you that riding the bus is the best part of her’s.
The bus may only take her from school to home, but the budding desire to try new things and take some chances will take her anywhere. How could I stand in the way of that?