Who hasn’t joked about someone, “riding the short bus?” Even I have. But now that my son actually rides it, it’s a little different. Am I going to punch someone who jokes about it from now on? No. But will it hurt just a little, somewhere deep down inside? Probably.
Jaylen has wanted to ride the school bus since he started school at 18 months. Since he has special needs we have always had the option for him to ride, but I am a little certifiably overprotective. I don’t know, there’s something unsettling about a bunch of special needs kids, most of them non-verbal, riding on a bus, combined with all the horror stories of things that happen to kids with Autism outside of their homes lately.
When the letter arrived a few days before school telling what bus he would be on and what time it would pick him up at the house I really gave it some thought. I even discussed it with my husband, even though it was a one sided conversation. In fact, if I remember right, when we I got done talking he said, “Sounds like you’ve already got your mind made up.”
Fast forward to the first day:
While waiting to go in, his classroom assistant, who is a family friend, mentioned that he is on her bus list. Turns out, she rides with some of the students on the way home and she is on his bus. That got me thinking:
- He wants to ride
- A woman I know and trust would ride with him
- I would not have to fight end of school traffic to pick him up
- I would get an extra 30-40 minutes every day to just have Xavi (who will be napping, especially if I slip him a night cap to be sure)
No brainer (especially since number 4 gave me chills, potentially 3 hours a day, 5 days a week to myself???).
Unfortunately, since he can’t take naps anymore because he goes to school in the afternoon, he fell asleep on the bus the 1st day. So when we rushed out to greet him excitedly with the camera, he was crying. He was confused, upset, tired, and disoriented. So I didn’t get a great picture.
That night, as I was putting him to bed he confided that he wanted to, “ride with Mommy and not ride on the bus.”
Obviously, that broke my heart. I wanted to say, “OK, Mommy will always drop you and pick you up; you can ride with Mommy for the rest of your life!” But I didn’t, I told him we would try it one more time and see how it went. I was strong. He was strong. (I know, this is sooooo ridiculous, it’s just a bus).
After school Xavi and I waited outside (Xavi had to grab HIS school bus for the occasion):
Day 2, much better. He fell asleep again but at least knew what the hell was going on when he got woken up.
Besides the bus, school is going great. But he is in the same room, same teacher, same assistant, mostly the same kids in his class, same speech therapist, same IEP, same accommodations, etc. We just got through day 4 and he loves the bus! He asks if I am proud and if he is a big boy every day when he gets off now. Maybe soon, he will start growing that 3rd and 4th foot.