Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bus Whisperer

Last week I took the boys on their first bus ride. We went with a friend and her little boy on a local bus route loop for about 20 minutes before winding up at another friend’s house for a playdate. I had mixed emotions about taking the boys on the bus because it scared me a little, but our trip was fun and even a little enlightening.
When the bus pulled up to the bus stop the boys were at first curious about being so close to a bus, and about how big the wheels were. They know a lot about buses; we have two bus stops we can see from our balcony and so they’re familiar with what buses look like and what they sound like. They will look up from playing and proclaim, “bus!” when they hear one. They also are quite fond of the song “The Wheels On The Bus,” and have a terrific pop-up book with the same title. So the stage was set for our sojourn.
Yet, as I prepared to take them out of the stroller and fold it up to board the bus, they freaked out, wailing and carrying on crying, “Mommy, Mommy!” like I was in some way betraying them. Meanwhile my friend’s son was taking it like a champ. He had ridden the bus before, so is an expert. Plus he was clutching tightly to two crackers. Somehow we got all of us onto the bus, Clark on my friend’s lap, Cal on my lap, and her son wedged in the seat between us. They even stopped wailing long enough for  me to notice my surroundings.
Back in the days of riding the bus and metro to work every day I was not accustomed to people being, well, friendly. Not that people were generally rude, but they were generally glazed-over on the commute. Like what deep-sea-dwelling fish—the ones with no eyes— must look like on their commutes. Creepy. Most of the passengers wore black and carried briefcases and smelled of expensive importance. Then there was me with my thrift store teacher’s slacks and whiteboard marker fingers messing It all up. Of course, I was nothing compared to the man who dressed like a woman and painted his nails with polish from a makeup Caboodle while riding the bus. That's right. He/she would show up occasionally and I always was so delighted to watch him/her. But enough about what kept me going while teaching middle school.

Anyway, the strangers on the bus were kind to us, especially to the boys. The driver talked to the boys and would have flexed his steering wheel for them if he could have. The passengers picked up dropped hats and waved and winked and one man talked to Clark for awhile about his little girl who is just Clark’s age.  A man climbed on the bus with garden tools, including a spade and some large sheers. I kept thinking that carrying those potential weapons must be against the rules, but I guess because it was so clear that he had just crawled out of a landscaping hole somewhere, the driver didn’t bat an eyelash at it. I don’t think he spoke English, but he winked at the boys and waved when he got off.  A tall black early twenty-somethings man with ear buds in, bobbing his head to the beat, grinned ear to ear each time he made eye contact with the boys. Kids seem to tear down invisible walls between people.
Cal kept saying, “Keeeeep going!” and they both kept pointing to the triangle wheelchair signs and loudly declaring, “yellow triangle!” The steering wheel elicited “big wheel!” every time they looked at it. They noticed with delight the way the bus driver lowered the bus to the level of the sidewalk as we got out. Ah the wonder of a child!
Not only was I delighted by kind strangers and excited about introducing public transportation to the boys, but knowing how easy it actually will be to get the boys on and off the bus was a great relief and very freeing. There are so many places we can visit!
Cal and Clark are still talking about the trip. Once-in-awhile Cal will pipe up with, “I sit Mommy’s lap bus ride!” because I like to ask them questions about our trip and they love to answer.
 Tonight as I was reading a bedtime story, I saw Cal slip away on his tummy with a little toy bus. He had his head down on the floor, watching it as he pushed it back and forth. “Bus ride,” he whispered slowly over and over, as if they were magic words. I’m pretty sure we’ll be boarding a bus again soon.
Here is Clark, driving his bus.


  1. I've never met them, but I love your boys all the same. Hopefully, we can change that first part soon! ;-) Love ya!

  2. Well DC is lovely in the spring, Hattie... :)

  3. Brilliant post -- So Shouts and Murmurs. Refreshing reflection on child (and adult) wonders you won't find in Parenting magazine.


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