Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yellow Bus

Three years ago when Misa boarded her first yellow school bus for Kindergarten, I quickly learned that the bus ride would become a significant part of her day.  One year later, it was the same experience for John-Pio.  Like the elevator in our condo building, the yellow bus is a natural part of our city kids' day-to-day life where what they say and do are sort of part of a larger community.  Every school day morning, they meet their familiar bus driver, Ken, along with the attendant, Tom, with special rituals that signify their come-and-go relationship.  They greet Misa with a hearty hello, and bump-fist with John-Pio or playfully try to take his hat.  At the end of the week, Misa is often given the microphone to sing anything she wants.  When I'm lucky enough to walk them to their bus or be there when they arrive home, Ken gives me some shortened run-down of the kids, and always wishes me a good day.  I feel as attached to these two as I observe Misa and John-Pio are.

In fact, the kids have memorized their birthdays and include each in their holiday gifts.  The other afternoon, Misa was hell bent on making chocolate chip cookies for Ken - just because.   Thankfully, both kids have had the same bus driver and attendant for two years now and although it'll most likely change next year, I have no doubt that a new kind of relationship will develop - whomever the new bus driver and attendant turns out to be.  Hearing others' positive stories about elementary school bus drivers, I bet there are hundreds of others out there who make it on the list of kids' positive memories.

Misa delivered this card from Ken and Tom when John-Pio was sick for a few days.  I just imagine that they have a stash of cards with various sentiments at their disposal . . . 

One event of our weekend was the Badger Kids Fair and Spring Football Game (where incidentally, we froze our asses off, but that's a forgettable piece of the weekend).  Along with 30 of my students, my kids, Jada, and Brad, Peter and Ruth also joined us.  We met at Sherman to board none other than a yellow school bus.  That wasn't very exciting at all to any of the kids or to my students, but it was novel for me to be riding the yellow bus with my brother!  In all our years of schooling, we were never eligible for the yellow bus because we were within walking distance of Palmer Way Elementary and Granger Junior High schools, and by the time we were in high school, someone was able to give us rides or we became licensed drivers soon after entering high school.

Riding that yellow bus on Saturday reminded me of the envy I felt as a student.  I secretly wanted to be a part of the yellow bus community.  I'm not sure I even knew anything important about it - my best friend Karen rode it every day so that was one source I count that contributed to my envy.  And I kind of liked the tone and energy from, "I gotta go - I have to catch my bus!" It sounded urgent and independent, as if the kid who said it had to get home to take a piano lesson or watch their little sibling, when maybe it had nothing to do with that demanding of a task.  Maybe it was just to get home in time to watch the "Brady Bunch" or "My Three Sons" or "American Bandstand."  Whatever it was, I know I was envious then.

Today I'm just happy knowing Misa and John-Pio are happy every time they get on and off the bus.  They confirmed this a few weeks ago when I offered to drive them to school and as a bonus, I would stop at Lane's Bakery for doughnuts.  No deal, Mom.  Their preference was to ride the yellow school bus - so much a part of their routine and so much a part of their day-to-day community experience.

Here's a picture of me and my brother on the only yellow school bus we've ever ridden together.

1 comment:

  1. Love having yellow bus memories after reading your post. First I remember crying all the way home on the first day on the kindergarten bus because it went a different way home than it had followed on the way TO the school and I was sure I would never get home. Susie Holmes, my next-door-neighbor and best friend looked worried but didn't cry and reassured me we'd get home. We did.

    On the junior high school bus in a different community, with a different best friend who was also a next-door-neighbor, Karen we fell into a nice pattern to begin our day. Karen was a superb piano student and practiced before and after school. I'd hurry to get ready early so I could go to Karen's and sit in the chair next to the piano listening to her remarkable music while I thumbed through her dad's art books.

    We raised our own kids only 4 miles from their school, but due to the nature of the rural bus ride from the start of the route on the edge of the attendance area, back to McFarland, their ride lasted 50-60 minutes. The bus was K - 12 and no attendant, just a forward facing driver. The worst thing I remember from their thousands of hours aboard the bus bumping down the dirt roads of the Dunn Township was Sam's first kindergarten bus ride home -- he got off the bus pouting because he'd been teased by another kindergartner for wearing pink sandals. I suggested, "All colors belong to everyone." Though he didn't eliminate pink from his wardrobe, nor even his outlandish hibiscus Aloha shirt with matching shorts, he never wore those sandals to school again (opting for curry yellow high top sneakers with Road Runner on them). If that's the worst thing that happened over so many hours of travel, zig zagging down Dunn Townships farm country roads, well that's okay. I am actually amazed to this day that there were no problems. Seems the kids just worked things out for themselves and even looked out for one another, especially the younger ones.