I hate school buses. Always have. My aversion dates all the way back to third grade. My parents were on vacation so my sister and I stayed with a neighbor just far enough away from school that we couldn’t walk comfortably. I had never set foot on a school bus, and now I had to ride one every day. FOR A WEEK.
I was terrified. Who to sit with? Which bus to get on at the end of the day? The moment I climbed up into that fetid, overheated interior that cold January day, a deep fear and loathing of school buses was permanently implanted in my eight-year old brain.
Name one good thing that’s ever happened on a school bus.
Mmm hmm. Thought so.
Kids barf on school buses.
Kids have illicit sex on school buses.
Kids fall asleep and get abandoned on school buses.
Kids get bullied on school buses.
Kids get hijacked on buses and have to be rescued by Dirty Harry.
That's Harry on top of the hijacked bus. Can your local cops leap from bridges onto buses driven by homicidal maniacs? Didn't think so.
I’m not even going to talk about what happens to the kids on the school bus in this movie, because if I have to say it I’ll never get out of bed again and neither will you.
Google it. Like hell I'm telling.
Don’t you see? School buses are the devil’s chariot.
There’s a reason why #3 on my List of Top Three Things that Terrify Me Most is that my son will one day be involved in a school bus accident (I’m not mentioning #1 and #2 because I do not want to “put them out into the universe,” if you can dig what I’m saying.) Fortunately, we live in a small town without public busing — we can drive or walk him to school.
It is, however, summer — a time of camp, of fun and games, of leisure, of FIELD TRIPS. Field trips require school buses. Every freaking Wednesday, no less. So I’ve observed a new weekly ritual this summer: put son in bright blue official camp T-shirt. Inhale back of his neck (that’s what I do, it’s better than coffee. You do it too, you know you do.) Kiss top of his head. Pray fleetingly to all that is holy that his school bus will not crash on the way to the bowling alley/petting zoo/museum.
Guess what happened yesterday? His school bus crashed — backwards, into a building. He is fine. All the kids are fine. Thank God. But that was not a fun call to receive. Or to make, I’m sure. I could hear the fear in the young counselor’s voice as she told me what she had to tell about 40 parents yesterday: “Your child was on a bus, and the bus was in an accident.”
I was sharing this story with a colleague, another mom with kids about my son’s age. She shares a lot of my maternal phobias, we’ve talked about it before. She said a great thing: “So your worst fear came true, and now it won’t happen ever again.”
I assume the odds are in our favor. That’s what I’ll tell myself as my son clambers aboard the bus next Wednesday in his camp T-shirt, thinking hopefully not of what happened yesterday, but what DS game to play on the way to the bowling alley/petting zoo/museum. Kid are resilient like that. As for me, I will do what I do every time he and I part: I will force myself to let go. To breathe. To trust in the universe.