More than we give them credit for

I got an email today from a friend whose son started kindergarten yesterday. She admitted to me that as the bus pulled away from their driveway, she cried as if he were shipping out to sea instead of traveling the couple miles to school. What if there was a problem with the bus? What if, for some strange reason, he got locked out of the school? I could commiserate…it seems that every year, as C. gets older, there are more things to worry about. My husband might disagree; he might tell you that I look for things to worry about. But I don’t. Honest. These things just find me somehow.

Although C.’s in second grade this year, we are still experiencing a first: this is his first year to do bus transfers. Last year, I opted out of sending him into the unknown abyss of transfers. Instead, I drove him partway to school and had him picked up and dropped off where there was no need to switch buses. But this year, with a baby at home, I had to admit that having him get on and off the bus here would make my life a whole lot easier. And he was more than ready to give it a try – it seemed like such a grown up thing to do.

I will confess to all of you that I had bus transfer nightmares for the three nights before school began. In my dreams, I was running around frantically, unable to get to the transfer spot, where I was supposed to meet C. to make sure he got on the right bus. I couldn’t find my car, couldn’t find the keys, got in repeated accidents…obstacle after obstacle kept me from doing my part of the transfer process.

[Now in real life, I don't need to go to the transfer bus. I get C. on the bus by our house and off he goes. But you know how dreams are.]

So, Monday morning arrived, and I was doing my best to not act nervous in front of C.. I had prepared in every possible way. I had tested C. on his bus numbers – all four of them. We had driven past the two transfer points, so he would be familiar with them. And I had put “the card” in his backpack.

“C., I put a card in your backpack. It has your bus numbers –”

“But Mom, I know my bus numbers.”

“I know, but just in case. And it has your teacher’s name and your school –”

Mom, I know all that stuff.”

“I know. But just in case. It also has our home phone number –”

“But –”

“I know. You know that, too. But just. in. case. And it has my cell phone number. So if you need any of that information, for any reason at all, it’ll be right there.”

“Okay mom.” (I have a feeling that he was secretly thinking, My mom is a psycho.)

Naturally, he didn’t need the card, he got to school just fine, and he made his transfers without a hitch. We had one minor incident – when the afternoon bus driver cruised right past our house – but that all got worked out, too. C. felt incredibly mature for handling multiple transfers, and I’m pretty proud of him. Sometimes I worry that I keep him “too young” by protecting him from these kinds of things. So this whole experience has been good for both of us. He got some added confidence and pride, and I learned a teeny bit more about the whole letting-go process.

Kids can usually handle more than we give them credit for. At least mine can. I’m still learning how to hold on loosely to him – loving him fiercely while letting him venture a little further into the world all the time. It can be hard to find that balance. But I’ll keep working on it. And keep praying for wisdom. And most likely, I’ll keep finding myself amazed by him.


A couple first-day pictures:

Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, ready to go

At the bus stop

At his desk


  1. Okay how did you get first day pictures at his desk if you . . . forget it! Just kidding. My, he looks so grown up and handsome! Glad to hear it all went well and BIG KUDOS to you for “letting go” a bit more this year. Believe me, I have a feeling C. will thank you someday. I would.

  2. P.S. A few years ago I took a picture of Mike’s first day of school . . . backpack and all! I love it!

  3. Okay, Dianne, you caught me! :) I ended up meeting C. at school so that he wouldn’t have to carry all 20 lbs of school supplies with him. I stuffed his backpack with as many supplies as we could fit, and then I took the rest. But – and this is the truth – I took a completely different route than the school bus. I did not follow the bus!

  4. He looks SO big. The way he’s standing, his smile, everything. Maybe it’s all that bus-transfering confidence. But really, I do think that we need to give them independence. I’m all about keeping them young. And as if to prove it, my 3rd grade daughter is watching PBS Sprout (a network for preschoolers), and her two year old brother is here with me. . . .

  5. They do grow up don’t they in spite of us and our worries!

  6. Southern Girl says:

    Awww, he’s so handsome! I think I’d probably be one of those mothers sneaking around, following the first bus to make sure he made the transfer okay. You’re a better woman than I am not to have done it. ;)

  7. This sounds like me with my 3 year old starting his first day of preschool next week. I know he is going to do great, but there is that voice in my head saying he can’t be ready for this yet. He is still my baby.

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