...for the first time she since got on the bus for her second year of preschool, Julia has, for the past couple of mornings, had a very difficult time getting on the bus.
When she started at the public preschool, I drove her to school, even though she was eligible to take the bus. Three just seemed too little to send my baby of on the bus and I liked the communication dropping her off and seeing the teacher every day provided. When we had her IEP meeting for the year she turned four, they recommended that she ride the bus so that when kindergarten came, she would not have as tough of a transition, riding the bus daily to and from school. I agreed, even though I was practically *dying* thinking about sending my baby off on a school bus at age four. That year, we also increased her days in school from two to four, again preparing her for full day kindergarten, five days a week.
Julia has always needed a little extra prep when any change is taking place. You can't just throw her in to a situation and expect that she will handle it fine and will know what is expected of her. So, for the summer before she was to take the bus, we read book that I made detailing her entire routine...from the minute she woke up until the minute she got back off of the bus at home. I made arrangements to take pictures of the bus, pictures of what would be her classroom, and pictures of spots around the house that would be significant in her routine (the kitchen to eat breakfast, bathroom to brush teeth etc). By the time September came, she had the plan committed to memory and for the most part, got on the bus that first day with no problem. She had the, "I might cry" look on her face but held it together and off she went.
When it came time to ride the "big bus" and head to kindergarten, Julia was pretty comfortable with the whole situation. She showed some slight concern about the fact that she would not be in a car seat and buckled in. I did my best to explain that the big bus didn't have seat belts (why don't they anyway?) and she seemed to move on. Every once in a while it would come up last year but I was able to calm her fears pretty quickly and easily.
Fast forward to the past couple of days. She is suddenly "freaking out" about not having a seat belt on the bus and said it makes her "very nervous and worried" which are her exact words. At first I thought it a bit strange that this would come up now after a full year last year on the big bus and a month and a half under her belt this year. I thought that there must be something else and that she was using the lack of seat belts as an excuse to cover whatever else was going on.
After consulting with her sister, who also rides the bus with her, asking her bus driver, and talking to Julia herself, it seems that it really is just the seat belt situation. I did find out that bus evacuation practices has happened or will soon so it is possible that this whole seat belt thing came to light after a discussion at school or on the bus about bus safety. She was literally in tears last night when we were talking about getting on the bus this morning.
Julia and I talked for an hour last night about this. She was very adamant that the bus was not safe, that was was nervous with no seat belt, and that she would not go on the bus ever again. She was as is usually the case very, very set about what was going to go down this morning (she wasn't getting on that bus come hell or high water and she would either miss school or I would be driving her and that's that). Somehow, I eventually managed to convince her that she would be ok. I think she was just too worn out both physically (this went on past her normal bedtime) and mentally to keep going. She did ok this morning though she did ask a few times if I would drive her. I stuck to my original conviction which was that I would not be driving her. I didn't do this to be mean but to teach her that sometimes, life is hard, and you have to push through the fear and uncertainty. Who knew such a lesson could be taught during a discussion about seat belt safety and bus rides to school?
In some ways this shows growth for Julia. It's becoming harder and harder to remember the shy, timid, little girl she used to be.
And clearly, she really has been listening to my constant reminders to buckle up in the car (even if it is a habit for all three kids I still say it every time).