The boys on the bus
My preschooler on the bus
This morning my youngest needed to be at school before 8:00 a.m. because he had a field trip and would be riding “the big school bus.” He was very excited about this, so much so that putting his clothes on and eating breakfast seemed to be a challenge. I don’t know how many times I asked him if he had his socks on yet. Then he told me he needed to wear a specific shirt, the one with the name of his school on it. God help me, why didn’t I think of that last night? It’s not like I haven’t done this before! (In fact, the specific shirt had been handed down from either or both of The Bigs.) After tearing through his bureau and his bin of summer clothes, I could not find it. But I did find Curious George and Nemo-Disneyland shirts that were the same color, so I could offer him a choice. Fortunately, I did not have any trouble finding his raincoat and rain boots. It is pouring here, so much so that I was concerned we would not be able to find a way to get him to school (roads closed due to flooding), and I knew I had to keep my eye on the river conditions to ensure I did not do another three-hour tour of duty on the back end during kid roundup, since I was planning a dinner party and Easter egg hunt. Prior to sending him off with his dad, I asked him if he’d gone potty since he got up. “Oh. No.” “Well, you’re probably going to want to do that before you get on the big school bus, honey.” “Oh. Right.” Finally, I sent him off with his dad and his breakfast to go.
The Bigs on the bus
There has been some name calling on our school bus lately. One of my neighbors brought this up yesterday and it turns out that one of my sons isn’t spotless. After discussing it with him and his brother a couple of times, he first enlightened me to the bigger picture of the specific episode where he repeated the name someone else had called his friend (his friend was stabbing my son with his Nintendo DS stylus — yes, friends (and brothers) do sometimes do things like this) and then to an ongoing trend with a particular kid who’s calling a lot of people names, including calling him “fat.” (My son is large like a St. Bernard puppy and sensitive about it.) His brother chimed in with, “Yeah, he called so-and-so’s brother “$$&%~~ *&%!!”
“Well, what did so-and-so do?”
“He told him, ‘Stop calling my brother names!’ “
“Uhhmmm…do you think you could say the same to him about your own brother?”
“Well, I didn’t hear him say it.”
“It doesn’t matter if you heard it or not. You know he’s calling names. Perhaps you and so-and-so together, as the oldest kids on the bus, could talk to him about it. I don’t mean gang up on him; I don’t mean be aggressive. Just tell him it’s not cool.”
This particular name-calling kid was on my middle son’s basketball team. I went to get the team photo, which I had recently framed and placed on our mantle.
“Look. He looks like a nice boy. He’s just doing a not-nice thing. Do you boys think either of you could just tell him to stop calling people names?”
They seemed uncomfortable with the idea, but neither of them wants to “tattle” to the bus driver. I asked them if they wanted me to do it. They said that would be okay. But this particular morning, I was still writing out the check to accompany an order form when the school bus pulled up. I thrust the order envelope and check at my oldest, “Here, honey, can you take care of this, please?” as the school bus was waiting, and exchanged smiles with the bus driver. No chance to talk to her about the name calling.
It’s probably a blessing that I didn’t talk to the busdriver, though. First of all, I can’t imagine it’s all this one kids’ fault. I know how kids can be; I was one once (as I often have to remind my sons; they seem to think I was born a mom) and it was in the very “politically incorrect” 1970’s and ’80’s when parents didn’t wait at the bus stops with their kids or even walk them to school (since people who lived within a mile of our school were not bussed!). Secondly, I think the kids need to figure out a good way to solve this problem themselves. They are only in elementary school. They still have to get through Jr. High, High School, before arriving in Real Life, ideally without excessive name calling or hitting.