Having gotten my last child onto his crowded school bus, I headed off to face my day, walking a block I rarely do, where I came upon a line of small school buses that stretched around two corners. Waiting outside one of the block's bigger buildings were teachers who met every bus, carrying backpacks if necessary, holding hands of children small and large who cautiously emerged from each small yellow vehicle. I was on the block for barely a minute, only slowed by navigating through the crowd of waiting teachers, but as I continued past bus after bus waiting to discharge its passengers, I could tell that this was an experience that would stick with me far beyond that minute. When I send my children off to school, I wonder how they will do on today's test, or how they will manage with the richer kids or the smarter kids or the kids who annoy them. I wonder how they will handle the crush of other students, the keeping together of their own stuff, the independence forced upon them at what sometimes seems an early age.
In my minute on this block, I felt both warmed by the gentleness of the bus monitors and
teachers who guided the children off the buses, and chilled by all the
things these kids' parents must wonder when they put their kids on those
buses. I felt suddenly lucky for how easy my kids' lives really are. I
felt grateful that there are teachers who stand outside school buildings
and hold children's hands if they need it. And most of all, I felt
happy that I had found myself walking on this block, because sometimes
it takes walking a totally different path, even just for a minute, to
realize how simple the steps we take every day really are.