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The People On The Bus

January 18, 2013 - Jen Zbozny
A recent mom comment on the MirrorMoms Facebook page got me thinking about walking to school versus taking a school bus. I wondered about parents' perspectives on the subject and I questioned my own personal preferences.

In my own experience, I walked to school from kindergarten until 10th grade. I was lucky enough in first through 5th that I could walk home for lunch even. I have to say that was wonderful. Coming home for lunch made a nice break and my lunches were super. It's probably where I developed my opinion that cold sandwiches will suffice for lunch but nice warm homemade soup or stew and fresh cookies are what lunch is really all about. It also gave us exercise since going home for lunch made four trips instead of two. That's quite the perk.

It's true that about half of the children in my school took a bus. I had walker friends and bus friends too, but walking was great because whole armies of kids appeared out of different corners each morning. It fun to look forward to seeing those kids and tossing an occasional snowball. When it rained we could stop and enjoy a particularly fine puddle too.

Since there were so many children of different ages, there would be the occasional parent in the mix but we stuck together in groups and we knew the older kids looked out for the younger ones. We stopped at eachother's houses on the way to and from school sometimes too. My brother and I felt very important in 3rd grade when it was our responsibility to stop at two houses on the way and get little Michael and Patrick and John and walk them to and from school. Sometimes Mrs. Bailey would give us a treat or let us see the owl in the basement. It was interesting and exciting.

We enjoyed being outside too, there were seasons to enjoy, and the excitement of wearing heavy coats and snow boots, or using umbrellas. In middle school there was the excitement of sitting on our book bags and sliding down the grassy hill just beyond school grounds. In winter it became a sliding wonderland.

Coming home was good too. We would watch the bus kids waiting for their buses as we raced out and started for home. It didn't occur to us that the bus might get some kids home more quickly. We felt good to get started and be on our way. Usually, by the time we arrived home, we had been running or sliding or spinning in circles making wide centrifugal arcs with our book bags. That meant we'd had enough time, fresh air, and exercise to be fairly copacetic (and hungry) by the time we got home. With a little snack, we were usually prepared to sit and do our homework so we could go back outside and enjoy ourselves before dinner. I think it was remarkably good for us. We learned responsibility, promptness (well really we learned we got in trouble for dawdling but the whole sea of kids kept us on time since who wanted to get left behind?), and we learned to expand our worlds safely and independently in our own clan of kids.

Once into 10th grade, we were relegated to taking a bus. My brother and I railed against it. Even as a high school girl who fussed about perfect hair, I'd have preferred the independence of my own two feet to the confines of the bus. We got used to it and found our place well. I have great memories of conversations with close friends and funny antics while riding to and from school, but they're nothing like the wondrous adventures that walking provided. That opinion may colored since I started busing in high school when so many other things change for school children.

I may have loved the bus as much as walking if I'd never known anything else. I ask you, dear readers, tell me about being a bus kid. Soon enough Eve will be in school and most likely take the bus the whole time. I'd like to be able to identify with her. I'd be grateful if you'd share.


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