Zach was in the morning kindergarten class. This meant that each day around noon, Bob the bus driver would stop at the end of our driveway; bringing my little guy back home. One day though, the bus didn’t come at its usual time. I didn’t think too much about it at first—probably because I had a two year-old and a three month-old to occupy my time. But when the bus was over thirty minutes late, I started to worry.
I called the school to see if they knew what was going on. They said yes, the bus was running late due to the fact that they had a substitute driver who wasn’t familiar with the route (which covered quite a bit of rural area). They assured me everything was fine and that Zach would be home in a matter of minutes.
A ‘matter of minutes’ turned into thirty, and then forty-five. Still no Zach. I was really starting to panic. Where was my son???? I called John, who was working, told him what the situation was. He called the school, got the same story, then called me back and assured me everything was fine. I looked at the clock and realized Zach was nearly two hours late. Things were NOT fine.
I was picking up the phone to call the school again when I saw Zach walking down the driveway. Relieved doesn’t even begin to express what I felt at that moment, but when Zach told me what had happened, relief made room for anger.
The school was correct—the substitute driver didn’t know the route and was aimlessly driving around asking these little ones where they lived. The problem was he never came down our road. Zach got so tired of riding, that after driving by the house of some friends of ours, he decided he could find his way home. So he told the bus driver to let him off—that our driveway was close by…and the bus driver did! Without a house or driveway in sight on a chilly November day, this man opened the door, let my six year-old son out and drove away—leaving Zach a little more than two miles from home!
Zach was a bit tired from his walk, but more than that, he couldn’t believe “…what a bad bus driver that man was.” When I asked Zach how he knew the way home, he matter-of-factly told me he’d seen Colby’s house and knew which way to go from there because we’d walked that way with him while he rode his pony a few times.
Now I know some of you may think we should have disciplined Zach for getting off the bus, but we didn’t. We did talk to him about the fact that it would have been better for him to tell the bus driver how to get to our house, we were proud of Zach’s confidence and awareness of his surroundings, and thankful for the fact that we lived in a rural community where he felt (and was) safe.
I’m not suggesting you turn your kids loose and let them wander at will without supervision—not at all! What I am saying, though, is that you need to make it a priority to ensure sure your kids are familiar with their surroundings, that they know a few different routes to your house, and that they know what places on these routes are ‘safe places’. Yes, I know the world is a scary place and that lots of bad things happen, but instead of over-sheltering your children and making them afraid, keep your children safe by protecting them AND by teaching them to be strong, independent, and aware.
Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.