A week ago, on the first day of my son’s new school, I wrote that the bus carried not only our son, but our hopes and dreams and the hard work of so many people.
The post was titled “What the Bus Carries,” and I really think it is one of the better ones I’ve written.
Well here we are at the end of the second week of school, and you know what the bus DIDN’T carry this morning?
Ryan is adjusting very well to his new school. All his teachers had nice things to say about him at back-to-school night. They seem to understand him and his challenges and strengths. He’s actually enjoying school. All the fears he had over the summer have eased — except one.
The school bus.
Ryan hasn’t taken the bus to school since he was in special-needs pre-K — too long ago to even remember. He hates riding it now. It arrives early for pick-up in the morning. It drops off late in the afternoons. The driver yells at kids to follow rules and they disobey. It’s loud.
We don’t like it either. The bus stop is across a busy street, and is situated such that Ryan has to cross on his own without the aid of the bus’s stop sign because our street is a few blocks down and there’s no sidewalk on one side. So we have been taking him to the bus stop in the morning and meeting him in the afternoon.
When we heard his stop would be changing to one on a quieter street, we were relieved. Then we go the new bus pass, and the pickup time was a full half-hour earlier.
For a kid who was already unhappy about losing some of his morning free time because of an earlier start to the school day, this was not good news. And yet, Ryan was ready to go this morning without complaint. Veronica took him up to the new stop, 15 minutes early because the bus had arrived very early at his other stop several times already.
And then … nothing.
The bus never came. Eventually, a half-hour after the scheduled pickup, a neighbor drove Ryan to school with his kids. By then Ryan was in full meltdown mode.
Ryan cannot wait, especially when the wait time is uncertain — and that’s when he’s waiting to do something he actually wants to do.
To stand around, waiting for a school bus that might not come? Just to get to … school?
It was a combustible mix. And it went off.
I have already spoken to the school principal this morning. He strikes me as a no-nonsense, get-things-done kind of leader. I told him I know these issues are with the school district’s transportation department and that they are not fully in his control. But I also told him I expect him to fix them.
I was polite, but firm. I explained my son is a special-needs student and that we have had a wonderful experience with our public school district. We’ve worked with teachers, aides, therapists, and administrators that understand our son’s needs and care about him. I told him that this year is off to a good start and we are impressed with the teachers we’ve met.
And then I told him that the bus issues are undermining the entire effort to educate my son. This isn’t a matter of a small inconvenience or slight annoyance. This morning pushed Ryan past his breaking point. It is difficult for him to settle down and learn once he is in that state.
I need the principal to understand all that. I need him to know this is not an administrative inconvenience, it’s a critical issue that could make or break Ryan’s school experience this year.
My child is no more important than any other student at the school, and by all accounts, many are having busing issues. But I will not apologize for stomping my feet to make sure everyone understands that he can’t just deal with it.
It’s a lesson in advocacy that I learned from Ryan.
- What the Bus Carries (pucksandpuzzlepieces.com)