I am writing this post so that I can look back and remember what it was like to put our 4 year old on the schoolbus today.
I stood at the corner as young Zac bumped his head into me for who knows what reason exactly (he knows). He and I waited for the bus to show up. For Zac and his obnoxiously large FDNY backpack carried in empty readiness, this was just another adventure. It was like going to the store and getting ice cream. It was like driving to Nana and Papa’s for Christmas. It was like finding a rock shaped like SpongeBob in the woods. Another adventure, followed by a different one tomorrow and forgotten before nighttime toothbrushing.
Putting your kid on a schoolbus for the first time is no run-of-the-mill adventure. I sent our child into the next phase. Since this is Preschool and not Kindergarten (where things get real, yo), I suppose we could call this the Pre-phase. No matter how you look at it, I put my kid on a schoolbus today. He was transported to a new place with new people, new smells, new sounds, and new (day old) chicken nuggets. He was transported by a total stranger to a totally strange place. For the first time ever, he didn’t have to wear his seatbelt.*
When you ask him where he lives, he spouts off something about our silver car and the white truck, or, occasionally, something about the black car in the driveway next door (See it? That’s not my house. I am neighbor to the house with the black car in the driveway). Oh, good. Generic transitory landmarks. Please don’t get lost.
Little Zac was excited about school for every minute except the last. Seeing the bus proved that this was real, that he is not Ironman, and that Daddy wasn’t going with him.
Don’t worry, little man. You are Ironman. Go and be brave. Make new friends. Hold up the picture of your teacher that I gave you, look at it and then at her, and say “your story checks out.” She will laugh and you won’t know why. I’ll be here when you get back.
I don’t want to go to school.
I gave him the thumbs up while he cried in terror, an image he hopefully won’t have to someday explain to a professional. When I try to imagine this from his little perspective, it seems much creeiper than a clown.
He left us in terror. He came home happy. After all, if you had spent the schoolday playing with a Toy Story 3 puzzle, you’d be happy, too (that’s all I could squeeze out of him when it came to a report of what he did). No matter. It was fun. As soon as you got through the door, Malachi offered him some goldfish crackers. What a kind thing to do, Mac! “Of course, daddy. It is his first day of school, after all.”
Zac? Do you wanna go back tomorrow (please say yes…)
A brave little Ironman, ready to get back on the bus tomorrow. Phew.
* What’s the deal with having no seatbelts on buses? Is it that 40 kids cushion each other’s impact? Do buses magically take flight in order to avoid impact? Is a Magic Schoolbus actually just a schoolbus with seatbelts? Discuss.