Here Comes the Bus

AND OTHER GREAT BACK-TO-SCHOOL MEMORIES

I was almost eight years old, sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast with my family – when, right in the middle of enjoying my Frosted Flakes – my father looks out our kitchen window and exclaims, “Here comes the bus.” My sister, who was starting her first day of fourth grade, and I, beginning my first day of second grade, leaped out of our chairs, grabbed our school bags and started running as fast as our short legs would carry us down our long country driveway in mid-state Michigan. The only thought running through my head was hoping that I didn’t trip and fall, and put a big hole through the knee of my new red tights.  A few seconds later I hear my dad yell to us, “The bus isn’t coming. I’m just kidding.”

My sister, the strong and confident one, began laughing. And I, the sensitive and emotional one, starting crying. My father’s “the-bus-is-coming” prank rattled me to the core and made us miss the bus when it actually did arrive. Fortunately I managed to stop crying right before my mother dropped us off at school. Back then, I never thought about the conversation my mom and dad most likely had afterwards, but I can only imagine there were numerous words exchanged in our house later that morning.

The good news is my day got progressively better once I walked into my second grade classroom and realized that I had the teacher I really wanted and that many of my friends were also in my class. I remember being so excited to tell my mom and dad how great my first day was.  I really liked school and am the first to admit I was nicknamed “teacher’s pet” by many of my classmates. But my world came crashing down when, at age 12, my mom and dad told us that my father’s job was transferring him to a city in northwest Iowa – over 800 miles away from my family and friends in Michigan.

Middle school and high school were less than ideal for me – but I persevered, made new friends and was ready by age 18 to be “on my own” and go to college. I loved the freedom, and vividly remember on my college graduation day wishing I could make time stand still and not have to go out into the “real world” just yet.

My husband and I had two wonderful daughters and I was excited to relive, through my own eyes and the eyes of my daughters, all the emotions associated with going back to school. Their first days in elementary school brought nothing but excitement. The only tears shed were mine when they hopped on the bus those first couple of years. They would jump off the bus in the afternoons, just as I remember doing, so excited to tell me about their latest science project or to share their spelling words with me. As their mother I was, and still am, amazed at how fast each year passed until they went off to college, ready to live their lives “on their own” – just as I had many years earlier.

Thank you dad for the bright smile I get on my face so many mornings when I see a big yellow school bus picking up the neighborhood children. All these years later – reminiscing about going back to school, both for daughters and myself – brings me full circle to some of the grandest and most cherished memories of my life.