Why I Wish I Had Sent My Child On The Bus The First Day Of School

Why I Wish I Had Sent My Child On The Bus The First Day Of School

My 5 year old got lost on the bus on the first day of school.  Gulp.

So before I go on….judgemental moms….please understand I have two jobs and 3 kids under five, so although you may think it is an ‘easy’ solution or I should have done something different…I promise you I AM DOING MY BEST!  I cannot physically do 3 school drop offs and get to work on time…so yes, my 5 year old is riding the bus. 

I don’t want to write this….I just want to pretend to go on like everything is fine.  But then I think to myself, what if there is another little kindergartener out there lost and I could of helped? SOOOOO….here goes.

First day of school, I got an early morning babysitter to watch my 1 and 3 year old and I walked my kindergartener into school.  I had her bus tag on her backpack, I told her teacher her bus pass was in her back pack and I told my kindergartener to follow a little boy to the bus whose mom told me at meet in greet lived in the same neighborhood.

I lined up after school with the other moms all excited to take my first day of school photo.  The bus doors open and…my child does NOT GET OFF THE BUS.  My heart absolutely stops.  I run up the bus stairs screaming her name but there are like 40 kids on the bus talking and playing and I scream again.  Neighborhood kids let me know they didn’t see her (admittedly she is very small so seeing her with all of these kids is not easy).  The bus driver shrugs, and tells me she is not on the bus and that he doesn’t know where she is but needs to keep going to the other stops.  My mind is racing.  My heart is beating so hard it feels like it is going to jump out of my chest.  

I run to my car and call the school.  The office message machine says this school is closed and to call the county.  I call the county, they tell me they have nothing to do with buses and to call the bus department.  I want to scream but instead I remind myself I HAVE GOT TO FIND MY CHILD.  I drive over the school and the car line is literally a mile long.  I pull over to the side and make a beeline to the principle. He radios the office that there is a missing child on a bus.  I wonder if this is some sick nightmare I am somehow living through and I just want my child.

I get to the office and all of the administrators are very nice and concerned, however they tell me they are on the line in the ‘queue’ to get the questioned answered of WHERE IS MY CHILD.  I call a friend of mine who is literally an angel and ask her to go stand at my neighborhood in case another bus brings her, in case she gets dropped off and miraculously walks home or God forbid a stranger picked my child up off the side of the rode and she sees her.  I am standing in the office trying so hard to stay focused and ‘calm’ when my friend calls and the bus came back and dropped her off at my neighborhood!!!! 

Long story short, my 5 year old handed her bus pass to the wrong bus who took the card then her little friend got her to the right bus (BLESS HIS HEART) but her bus card stayed on the wrong bus so the bus driver had no idea who my child was or where she was supposed to go.  I take full responsibility I should have prepared my child much more for this bus experience and most of all I am just overwhelmingly happy I have my child safe in my arms.  Feel free to judge me, but know that I write this just in hopes I could help other moms like me who need to send their 5 year old child on  the school bus (and no there is nobody in her class that rides her bus for us to learn from or ‘follow’)

So here is what I learned the hard way:

  1. Prepare your child ahead of time that they need to be alert and stay awake on the bus ride home.  She was so little and hidden between bigger kids.  
  2. Show them what they are looking for to know how to get off BEFORE the big day.  She told me the neighborhoods looked all the same to her that first confusing day.  I should have been there with a big thing of red balloons or something for her to see!
  3. I should have had a big sticker or name tag or bracelet with our address and my phone number ATTACHED to her.  More than a little white plastic bracelet that goes on her backpack handle.
  4. I should have asked EXACTLY how my child gets TO THE BUS from her classroom and HOW SHE KNOWS what bus to get on, as a 5 year old at the cafeteria during meet and greet.  
  5. Don’t tell your child to ‘follow’ a friend as the friend we thought was on our bus route was on another one we found out the hard way and my child was really confused why she was getting ‘left’.  My heart squeezes feeling her bafflement and how scared she must have felt.  I needed to have taught her for her own knowledge exactly what to do.
  6. I should have had her ride the bus the first day from our neighborhood as the driver would have known her face from the first moment and would have told me yes, your child is on this bus and would have told her to get off on that first day.  He just had no idea who my kid was and that she belonged in our neighborhood.  But since I drove her to school the first day she and the driver had no idea what mom or what neighborhood she belonged in. 
  7. I should have very explicitly told her to ASK AN ADULT at the school for help and to be assertive.  
  8. So of course my mom guilt sunk in hard core last night and I wondered if I should get a sitter and follow the bus and somehow watch to help her figure out how to get back on the right bus after school.  But alas I chose to get her right back on the horse again and she rode the bus today like a champ!
  9. And YES I bought a tracking watch for her!  We love Angel Sense!

Here is some good news….as those who really know me know I try to see the positive always.
She thought she was just on a long ride.  She did not get left with a stranger.  I found out he would have just brought her back to the school.  And her teacher sent me a picture of her arriving safety at school today. WHEW. 

I am very grateful to have a great teacher with excellent communication and who my daughter loves so I know she made the day after a rough start better AND to my angel of a friend who stood an hour at my neighborhood and held my daughter close when the bus driver dropped her off, THANK YOU.  I will never, ever forget this selfless act you did for me.  

So I hope that every other child and parent riding the bus the first time had a fantastic easy experience.  I now have learned some very valuable lessons, I never expected to experience but alas I hope my vulnerability through these 9 tips Make Motherhood Easier.
ihelpmoms.com CEO/Founder

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