As of a few days ago, I am officially a school drop off line mom. And I’m good with it. I really am. Here’s why.
Last year, my son was in first grade, loving school and learning enough to make his mama feel a bit dumb. But, as with most kids with special needs, things weren’t that easy. He had a lot of behavior issues in and out of school and they weren’t improving much. Especially on the bus. The school he goes to is 15 minutes away from our house, so the school was adamant that he take the bus. Partly for some sense of routine, partly because this is an amazing school and they want to make things easy on the parents if they can.
But things weren’t great. The bus driver was nice, the bus aide was a total sweetheart, but they were no match for my son. He would throw things, get up and try to move seats or cause trouble, scream and hit the aide if he got upset. So the school timidly approached me about getting my son a harness. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine the kind of harness a dog might use, except instead of a leash on the back, the back would be strapped into a special seat belt attachment on the bus, so my son wouldn’t be able to get up during the ride.
I think many parents would say no, and I could tell that they were expecting me to be upset. But if he needed this to stay safe on the bus, and keep everyone else safe, then I wasn’t going to complain. So we got the harness.
It didn’t help with his behavior though. Last year was a struggle, and he was written up multiple times, although I know they hated doing it. And this year? We tried to start off school with no harness, to see if he could handle it. He lasted three days before we all agreed to put it back on. But his frustration with the bus was becoming worse and I was starting to see that his behaviors were not just out of nowhere. I started seeing patterns, and reasons why he would get upset. If the bus changed, if it looked a bit different, if the driver or the aide was out and someone new was there, if another kid wasn’t on the bus like usual; there were a million variables that seem small to us, that bothered my son in a profound way. And they were not anyone’s fault, or in anyone’s power to fix.
The only solution I could think of was to ditch the bus completely. I might not be the most organized person, but I’m Mom. I don’t get sick days, so I would be the one there to drive him every day. In the same van, in his same booster seat, with the same kind of music, and his sister next to him. And, better yet, no harness.
So yeah, it takes a full hour out of my day to drop the kids off and pick them up later, but if it helps my kid, I’m good with that. I really, really am. This is why I became a stay at home mom; so when my kids needed me, I would always be there. And we are already seeing an improvement in his mood and behavior in and out of school, so I know I made the right decision. In the end, all that matters to me is my kids and how they feel. And he’s already feeling much better.