Sunday, December 20, 2009


Little and I are winding down our homeschooling time by choosing to do some things we've been putting off. We made a field trip the the Sciencenter a few weeks ago, we visited a great nature area and dog park near our house, and we've been making Christmas cookies. Last week I asked him what else he wanted to make sure we got to do together before he started school.

Take a bus, Mama.

Oh, okay. Great. Where do you want to go on the bus?

No place in particular. I just want to ride the bus.

Okay, but buses go places. We have to choose some sort of destination, just because it's winter and we'll want to get off and get warm at some point.

Ok. Let's take the bus to the mall.

And so began our most recent field trip. The bus. To the mall.

Now, let me tell you something about me. I am not a city girl. I rode a big yellow bus to school every day, and that is the sum total of my experiences with public transit of any kind, and buses in particular.* I don't know how to read a bus schedule. I don't know anything about bus stop etiquette. I don't know where to sit, how to pay, whether I need a token or change or a pass or what. And frankly, I don't see why I need to find out about these things, since I have two perfectly decent cars sitting in my driveway.

But Little wanted a bus trip, and I knew my reluctance was just snobbishness, so I did the research, and we did our little trip this week.

We got to the bus stop way too early, and it was a freezing cold day, so we ducked into the nearby gas station for a snack, then stood outside in the cold. He complained, and I refrained from reminding him that he'd chosen this trip, so no whining allowed. I sometimes need to be reminded that just because he's chosen something doesn't mean he has to like it.

But then the bus came, and we giggled the whole way. There was hardly anyone else on the bus, and it was fun to see all the familiar sights of our town through different windows. Visiting the mall by bus somehow offered a different perspective. We didn't have a place to leave our coats. The whole thing was somehow more leisurely, relaxed, perhaps because we knew we could only leave at certain times.

We had lunch, we got a Christmas present for Big, we walked around. We gave the guys at Radio Shack the third degree about cell phone plans. We examined Fossil bags at Macy's. Little played with video cameras. It was great.

And then we caught the bus back home, rang the bell for our stop, and walked home. We strolled happily back up our street, to our house, where our cars sat in the driveway. It was a whole new way of looking at the day. I might even do it again.

*This is not entirely true. In my misspent youth, I actually took a bus from Ithaca, NY to Pocatello, Idaho, and then back again. It took four days and nights of bus travel to get there. I remember sitting with a guy who told me he was a professional football player. I believed him.


JoVE said...

This is great. And I knew you had never taken a bus when you said you needed to get off to get warm. The bus is usually warmer than the outside:-)

And one reason to take the bus despite the cars, is environmental -- more people moved for each gallon of gas and all that entails.

But also, if your kids are comfortable riding the bus, it significantly reduces your time spent taxiing them around. Buses tend to be pretty safe -- drivers usually have a radio if there are serious incidents, they have a fixed route, etc.

So the bus can give your kids independence long before they can drive.

JoVE said...

btw, taking the greyhound between cities is a different kettle of fish

Se7en Wirsing said...

This reminds my of the bus trip Qz and I took during our home school adventure. In our case, the bus was very crowded and for part of the return trip (from BU)we had to stand. We appreciated our car more after that trip!

shaunms said...

We moved right in front of a bus stop, and have chosen our church (probably) in part because we can easily go door to door on the bus! Love the bus. Though bussing/public transit is very different depending on the size of the city. I never took the bus in Ann Arbor.

I have not yet had my kids (or at least the 10yo) do a solo voyage on the bus, but many of our friends with teens rely on it. Very helpful.

And I'm with Jove -- the warm bus is one its best features. Hop on, it's warm, it's defrosted, it's never surprisingly low on gas when you are already running late!

Hope the transition to school goes smoothly for you all!

Anonymous said...

Well, depends on where you are. San Francisco buses are always full of potential for extreme weirdness,* New York buses are full of people who have no time for you to figure out that you have to push the door open,** while the buses in Newport Beach are full of all the Hispanic housekeepers and maids going to and from work in all the mansions.*** But I've always liked riding the bus. Good for you for going through with it.

*Cross-dressers, drunks, etc.
**To my serious embarrassment.
***These three being the sum total of my bus experiences. Your mileage may vary.

Sarah Averill said...

Hi You guys,

It was great to see you. I just read the last few entries to your blog--which I have been remiss in not reading regularly. You write beautifully about your life and its challenges. We stand by you through it all. Let's get together soon.

lots of love to your crew.

the scarlet piglet said...

There's a dog park in the area?? where?!