Monday, September 01, 2014

Reluctant mom taxi

The girls started Year 2 and Year 4 yesterday, at a different school than the previous three years. Another change for this year is that, for now at least, I am driving them instead of having them take the bus.

This is the part where I am a bad mom (maybe) because I am not a fan of driving my kids to and from school every day. I think it's borderline ridiculous, at least when other options exist, like walking/biking (as I did in elementary school) or taking the bus (as I did for middle and high school until I could drive). My mom never drove me to school. If I recall correctly, nobody else's mom drove them to school, either.

But the bus service at the new school costs more than the old one did, and it doesn't even come with a lovely female bus attendant to keep things in order. There's a chance we'll switch to the bus in a few weeks, but it's a slim one.

In the perpetual meantime, I'm trying to look on the bright side. Driving my kids to school means I get some time with them at the beginning of their day, and some time with them in the afternoon to debrief. I will see their teachers on a more regular basis. They can stay after for activities without missing the bus. And, of course, we'll be saving a bunch of money. (Just don't bring up the cost of my time.)

Since I'm a novice, I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do things. I've known for years now that Sharjah has some seriously weird road patterns, but now I've discovered that one of the traffic black holes is located right outside the gate of the primary school. It's literally a can't-get-there-from here spot, unless I go a further 20 minutes out of my 10-minute way. So I have to park outside the gate of the secondary school and trek across campus on foot to get to the girls' classrooms. This could be a lovely walk in December, but for now it is a dash through the fires of hell - hotter, though, since I'm clutching a sweaty baby in my arms.

I'm keeping my eyes open to see what norms emerge after this first week or two of school is over. Maybe it will eventually be acceptable to give a cheery goodbye to the girls at the gate (even the secondary one), instead of walking them all the way over to the morning line-up area.

Do you drive your kids to school? What is my problem, anyway?


23 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

One of the biggest perks of buying the house we chose in Midland was that it was in the "bus zone" for their elementary (and middle) schools. I am so excited to simply send them to the bus stop - it is such an enormous pain to leave the house twice per day (we did it at their previous school from Jan-Jun). Getting everybody in the car in the morning wasn't as big of a deal, but leaving in the mid-afternoon (usually in the middle of making dinner) to pick everybody up was always a nightmare. Combine that with the horrendous traffic at their school, and it was a solid 45-60 minute trip to pick them up.

Oddly, I've been talking with my neighbors, and so far NONE of them are planning to use the bus service. Apparently that's only for slacker parents, or the ones who don't care enough to drive their kids? I've gotten some weird looks when I say I'm excited for the bus. One mom cautioned me, saying she wouldn't let her 4th-grade daughter walk all the way to the bus stop unsupervised, so I probably shouldn't let my 1st/2nd-graders. I admit I'm puzzled - I live in freaking Midland - it's like Pleasantville. Granted, anything can happen, and I acknowledge that, but the crime stats are already so low here that a walk to the end of the street (to a stop I can see out my window) is certainly not a cause for alarm for me. But I also don't play with my kids at the playground (I read a book on a bench), so clearly I'm not as concerned about a lot of things as many other parents. :)

Bridget said...

YES, I sense a slight "what poor, unloved children" subtext to bus use here, too. But the bus was amazing, and I liked the independence it fostered in my kids. Plus, I was grateful every day, twice a day, to NOT be dropping everything to go get my kids.

On the other hand, it is nice to see my kids' teachers/classrooms more, but I am alarmed at the implication that it makes me a better mom to watch my child all the way from the front door of the house to the door of their classroom. I haven't brought up the "can I leave my kid at the gate and wave goodbye from there?" idea yet with admin or other parents because we're new at this school and I don't want the weird looks to start yet. :)

Susanne said...

Curious why you switched schools. I remember when you were school shopping a few years ago.

Sorry the bus service is costly and you have to take M&M to school for now.

Kathy Haynie said...

The new uniforms are seriously adorable. (Maybe that was reason enough to switch schools??) (Just kidding, duh.) I used to prepare my children for walking 3/4 mile to elementary school by taking lots of walks with them between our home and the school. The last month before school started (we're talking kindergarten), I had them lead the way, so I was confident they really knew how to get there and back. The younger ones had been taking stroller rides along that route since they were tiny, so it wasn't rocket science to get from point A to point B. I think the most important judge of whether it's ok to have the children walk through the secondary school on their own is YOU. After you've walked the route with them daily for a period of time you'll have a clearer idea. Having 2 sibs walking together, with the older one in year 4, sounds pretty safe to me.

Kathy Haynie said...

Bridget, I'm curious too.

Jen said...

Ian (now in Grade 3) spent K, 1, and half of 2 at a lovely neighborhood school. There are a lot of perks to a "lovely neighborhood school," but one of the downsides is that hardly anyone lives far enough away to take the bus. The school also had the added wrinkle of not having a parking lot, so it was Street Parking Pallooza For All!!! We lived about a half mile away, so I walked during the warm (and semifredo months)....but given that I always seemed to have babies in the winter, I needed to drive for pick-up.

The actual getting in the car and going was not my problem. My problem was 2-fold: (1) my babies would almost always get an abbreviated or postponed nap, which interrupted the groove nearly every day; and (2) waiting around the door in a gaggle of other waiting parents who are all trying to make small talk is one of this introvert's worst nightmares. Ugh. I still get anxiety when I think about those years.

Halfway through 2nd grade, we moved to a new town with a bus. Ian must be one of the only 8 year-olds who was riding a bus for the first time....he loves it. I love it. The bus stop is at the end of my next-door neighbor's driveway, so I can leave sleeping siblings in the house while I brave the rain/snow/blizzard/heat to meet the bus. I love it with all my heart and give my bus driver presents. For reals.

Bridget said...

I gave our bus driver and bus attendant presents, too!!!

Crys said...

I drove E k and 1st. 2nd we moved to a new school where they'd refused to do a new bond and to punish the parents the district pulled bus service for a year or you could pay $50 per kid to have them ride the bus a month. I chose to walk him when it was warm because we only live .5 miles away but Midwestern winters are COLD...biting winds so I'd drive hime then. It always messed up naps and because every parent was driving took FOREVER. Then our state court ruled it was illegal for our district to do that (plus a total pain because the whole city is two lane roads so twice a day it would shut down with parents waiting on the streets around all the schools). The next year bus service was back and even though we live so close they bus because there is no sidewalk to the school...it is weird. I was nervous but I'd watched you let you kids ride so I reluctantly put them on the bus. freedom! The stop is two houses away and I love the convenience. Thanks for giving me the confidence to let them ride!

stevie kay said...

I HATE driving my kids with a passion! In the past, my older child biked with the neighbor kids while everyone else drove theirs. This year, older is homeschooling and younger is in kindergarten and we absolutely cannot let a kindergartener get some exercise (according to the neighbors) so since she has no one to walk with and can't bike yet, I'm stuck taking her. Back and forth. It's got to be one of Dante's circles of Hell.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Liz, the bus is a marvelous choice for several reasons, none of which you have to justify to anyone else. Don't let that slacker parent stuff get to you. The real term for them is control freaks . . .

Suzanne Bubnash said...

No, you were not driven to school with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 times. However, because the school was blocks away, and you had to walk on a trail through the haunted woods to get there, I walked with you and then peeled off for my own exercise once you got through the woods. When you were older I didn't do that anymore.

Now that school has begun and I have been party to conversations by parents of students, I'm appalled at how the parents bend over backwards so their children don't have to ride the bus. I don't get it. IT makes no sense to me.

Bridget said...

Thanks for your curiosity. I'll write about that soon.

Bridget said...

AND: morning chit-chat to kill time is the worst. I enjoy meeting the children's parents but when you're talking just to talk...shudder.

Bridget said...

Well, I'm just returning the favor since you writing about driving your kids led me to check out the bus in the first place! The bus was seriously the best. I'm all nostalgic about it now.

Bridget said...

So sad she has no one to walk with! I have such fond memories of walking to school with little buddies. Even through the haunted woods (see below).

Bridget said...

I guess this is where my attitude comes from because I agree with everything you said. :)

Hannah Singleton said...

I chose to drive my kindergartener to school this year for a couple of reasons. The first being that the bus system is so strange that he was going to have to transfer buses at another stop somewhere along the route. Had he grown up with mass transit that might not be a big deal but for a first time bus rider, I was worried about him at a bus stop in a strange neighborhood alone. The second reason was that he was going to have to catch the bus at 7:00. School doesn't start until 8:00 and we are literally an 8 minute drive from the school. Ridiculous, yes, but my husband drops him off and I pick him up. Every. Day.

AmandaStretch said...

Depending on the year and where the school was, I was either driven (usually in a carpool), bussed, walked by myself (or with friends), or drove myself. I even rode the short bus for a few weeks when I was in a wheelchair. I survived, though I likely could have died from embarrassment during the short bus time. I did like it when it was just me and mom (siblings were home) when she'd come pick me up after middle school because I'd stayed after for something and missed the bus. It was good bonding time, but I can totally see how it can be a hassle. My husband spent a school year as a bus driver after college, and his stories are highly entertaining.

Bridget said...

I have never, ever heard of transferring school buses! What a nightmare!

Sherwood family said...

I hate the thought of driving my children to school (or even having to walk them to the bus), so I just homeschooled. Talk about lazy! :)

Jennifer said...

Introvert comments like this make me smile. I love the chance to get to know other moms in situations like that. I appreciate both of you for opening my eyes to why not everyone loves to talk at that moment though. :)

Jennifer said...

I'm with you on this. Where we lived in CA, there were no busses. All the parents drove their kids to and from school everyday. Those parents who had kids in multiple school were in the car all the time. Moving to OR just before Ellen started kindergarten was awesome. I would be so bugged if I had to wake everyone up and get them in the car just to take her to school. In our school district, you get a bus to elementary school if you live more than a mile from the school. We live 1.4 miles from ours. Score!

Bridget said...

I love the attitude of those last two sentences! You get me.

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