My Son's First School Bus Ride Was Exactly as Awful as I'd Feared

Mom Moment 134

first school bus rideYesterday was the first day of school here in Eugene, Oregon, and it was also my 5-year-old's first trip on a school bus. We have a ridiculously complicated bus schedule this year complete with varying pickup and dropoff times and locations (one kid in half-day kindergarten and one in second grade, early release Wednesdays, one bus route that won't come through our block and one that will), and both my son and I were more than a little nervous as we waited for the bus to arrive.

It finally did, 10 minutes behind schedule, and he bravely climbed on board as I waved and took photos and tried to squash a rising sensation of panic as the bus drove out of sight. He's fine, I told myself. He's going to have the best day.

Forty-five minutes later, I got a call from the school. My son had been taken back to school, they said, because no parent was available to meet him at his dropoff. Could I come pick him up?

If you're having a hard time making sense of that, trust me, I did too. "Wait," I said. "My son's in afternoon kindergarten. He just got picked up by the bus, not dropped off. He should be in CLASS right now."

"Ohhhhhhhhhh," said the voice on the other line. "Oh, sorry."

As for how it was that my 5-year-old arrived at school without a teacher helping him figure out where he needed to go, I do not know. I called back, eventually drove to the school to talk to the principal about what happened, and even called the transportation department, but all I got were apologies, without a single explanation. No one seemed to have any idea what exactly had gone wrong, other than it was the first day of school and there was "lots of confusion."

I understand how hectic the first days must be for educators and staff, but I truly can't figure how a kindergartener -- riding a kindergarten-only afternoon bus, so it's not like there were a ton of other grades to contend with -- gets lost in the system to the point where the people in charge of making sure he's safe have no idea where he's been or where he's supposed to be.

The worst part about this entire scenario is that it's EXACTLY why I was anxious about putting him on the bus in the first place. There's something inherently terrifying about watching your child riding away on a school bus for the first time, and the only thing that makes it bearable is the belief that everything's going to be okay.

Ultimately, of course, he was okay. I mean, just to put things in perspective so I don't sound TOO dramatic, it's not like the bus drove off a giant cliff and burst into flames on impact. He was never left alone without supervision, and he eventually made it to his class safe and sound.

But jesus, I can't believe that's what happened on his first day. My poor shy boy, being inexpertly shuttled around and brought to class late. He's been so excited for this rite of passage, but it's going to be a while before I watch that yellow bus pull away from the curb with any sense of confidence.

Have you experienced a school bus mistake like this? Did it make you nervous about letting your child ride the bus?

Image via Linda Sharps

back to school


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bills... billsfan1104

Suck it up. He is ok. I am sure he didn't know anything and was just excited to go to school n

nonmember avatar jodie

OMG! I would be livid. After Kindergarten orientation, I found out that they didn't have my son on the transportation schedule at all. They admitted it was their mistake, but said they couldn't add a bus stop for him, and could he walk a mile (down a busy street!!) to the next bus stop over for the first two weeks? Um, no, my 5-yr-old son will not be doing that (full time working parents here). I hit the roof at that suggestion (first trimester morning sickness didn't help) and they relented and added his stop. This was last year, so needless to say I called way in advance to make sure they had it all set up correctly this time.

fave82 fave82

Poor little guy. I can remember being little and shy and its so daunting having to try things like that for the first time.. Even harder when the adults fuck it all up! On the bright side, figure the worst has happened and hopefully since it happened everyone will be on their toes now!

LadyKiki LadyKiki

The first week my son rode the bus, his bus was 45 minutes late getting to the stop. I was going crazy because I didn't have a cell phone, so I couldn't call the school without the walk back to my house and I couldn't see the bus stop where I lived so I just stood there. After about 30 minutes one of my neighbors I guess saw the crazy women standing on the corner crying and came out to check on me. I told her my son was a new bus rider and his bus was a half an hour late. She just smiled, told me it would be okay, he would probably be home soon and went back to her home. After 45 minutes the bus showed up and I asked what happened. Someone cut the bus off, parked in front of it and wouldn't move. The bus driver couldn't back up so he had to call the cops to come and get the guy to move his car. He assured me usually there isn't so much excitement during the bus ride home. I at the time didn't have a car, it was my only option, so he kept riding.

nonmember avatar BostonBob

Sounds like the idiots in the transportation group (and the school) were not ready for the first day problems.

Things are simpler at our school, all day kindergarten and straightforward routes. But they take extra care to have teachers and staff out front to make sure everyone is delivered to the right place the first week or so.

A lot of kindergarteners can't even get their own name out right to strangers (our son can't say "L" and his name has an "L" in it).

The staff should have to write 100 times on a blackboard, "We won't mess up the bus routing for kindgarteners on the first day".

nonmember avatar Courtney

First day of first grade on Monday, and my nephew's school bus didn't stop to drop him off at the end of the day. It stopped down the very busy street for the second stop, and continued on. My sister was about to call the transportation department when the bus came back, it had turned around the first place it could. Now this was a brand new bus driver, but my nephew is on the autism spectrum and it's the first stop the bus is supposed to make.

It's proper that they apologized, but I'm sure an "I'll look into how this happened" should have also been said.

Judy Easley

I had a situation with my son when he was in first grade.  He was to catch the bus at the corner of our street, and every damn day the bus passed him by.  Many telephone calls from both me and the school principal, and many mornings of me having to leave work and rush to get him and drive him to school, and they finally realized that, yes, the little boy standing there on the corner waving should be picked up.

Butte... ButteryMuffyn

I'm so sorry that billsfan1104 is such an asshole - I understand your fear and frustration, I'm just up the road from you in Washington, and a similar thing happened to us.  Kids were on the bus, and the driver totally sped by their designated stop, TOLD them they had to get off 3 stops away in a different neighbourhood, and drove off.  Thankfully another parent knows my kids, took them with her and called me to let me know what happened.  Bus driver lost her job shortly after because apparently this wasn't the first time for something like this to happen.

Karis... Karisma67

Not to make light of your situation, because I am sure it was scary and frustrating, but I had a much worse situation with the school bus and my child (and the school staff.) Two of the kids on my daughter's bus were bullying my daughter, and the school did little to nothing to stop it. She was coming home bruised, disheveled, and crying, yet the school staff would do nothing to fix it. One day my daughter came home and was very quiet. I finally got her to tell me what happened. The two boys were making jokes and comments on the bus about shooting my child in the head with a shotgun! My husband and I went to speak to the school as soon as the doors opened, and STILL they would do nothing. They chalked it up to typical childhood banter, boys will be boys stuff. OMG WE WERE MAD! I felt absolutely NO confidence sending my child to school OR the bus if they were going to blow off statements like that just miles from Columbine. I felt I had no choice but to enroll my daughter in a different school. Bullying in schools will never be handled until the adults take it seriously.punching

nonmember avatar trina

Wow .. just started school? P.M. Kindergarten?? .. my kids went back to school JULY 31st!!! And there is only all-day Kindergartner here in Indiana ...

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