Letting Life Lead
When I was in sixth grade, I had an opportunity to attend a special fall program at another school. It would have required me to take the bus once a week during regular hours and return to my school before the end of the day. I was so excited! My school life had very little joy. Okay, let’s be honest. No joy. Bullies, labeled too smart, being odd, and “teacher’s pet” hung over my head daily. I hated school; loved learning. I should’ve had an ulcer.
I had butterflies! I skipped all the way home.
My mother said no. No bus rides.
I was morose. I cried. I wilted.
My grandparents may have tried to intervene or it might have been my sobbing. She finally said yes. I ran all the way to school that Saturday morning. It was too late. The school grounds were deserted. I cried some more and dragged my feet home. Another student got my spot. It turned out to be the class bully. I remember her name; I still hate it.
That summer my teacher volunteered me for a brand new computer program at the school that only had a few bus rides to the city’s college campus. I begged and fought harder. They had Commodore Computers with one of those crazy light pens! This time I got a yes (almost too late). It turned into the best summer.
Looking back, my school years are marked by a lot of missed buses. Kids stopped inviting me to parties, sleepovers, and to their houses to play because I often had to say no. A chance to learn to ski passed. I couldn’t accept rides even in the rain or cold from even a mom I’d known for years. I got in trouble once for riding a friend’s bike — Cindy. Embarrassed, I never went to her house again. Some rules I had to follow made me stick out, too. I spent more and more time stepping away from opportunities. It wasn’t worth the effort to fail or have to say no.
I quit learning the saxophone in elementary school to escape being teased mercilessly. I got into so much trouble! In my mind, it was better than the stalking and daily threats of an ass-kicking by the class bully who had been in every single one of my classes since first grade! I gave up a chance to speak at a televised event that same year because I was terrified of sticking out. Head down; blend in. Except Brownies at the local church. I quit that because they had us making stupid craft-crap like feather dusters. Feather. Dusters. Even at age eight I knew that was wrong on so many levels.
By the time I got to High School, I stopped joining clubs or trying at all. I didn’t date and rarely socialized outside a small circle. No Senior Prom. I wanted to join Drama club but didn’t. I ended up on the Year Book committee and typed an enormous amount of material, but I missed the photo day; I am not pictured with the other staff.
How did I end up with kids that are go-getters and social powerhouses?
I worry. I worry something will quell their enthusiasm.
I worry it might be me.
My daughter wanted to ride the bus to Kindergarten this year. I told her I wasn’t ready because I wanted to see her bound into the school the way I did my first year. I promised us both, though, that for first grade she would ride the bus. We have a plan for future slumber party sleep-overs, and my daughter had her first “other mom” play date to an art class not long ago — without me. I am prepared to have a harder time letting my four-year-old son stretch his wings, but I will survive.
I might need to eat a lot of ice cream. And Swedish Fish.
I’m set in my ways, but I’ve tried over the years to not miss a bus when they come around. I’m not always successful. I will make sure, though, that my babies get on or chase it down and jump on the back doors if they have to.
“Hey! Don’t forget your helmet!”
writing, traveling, and tap dancing around town.
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