If the kid was starting kindergarten, you took pictures.
If he/she is in first grade, you offered an extra long hug, an extra-impassioned “I’ll miss you.”
If it’s second grade, well, you’re probably just happy to see them off.
Today was a different story. Today, the kid was running late. He couldn’t find his Spiderman sneaker. She couldn’t find her Princess backpack. Don’t worry, you said. I’ll drive you.
Since I’m cruising to the station on the bike each day, with typically around 30 seconds to spare in making my morning train, I’m acutely aware of the traffic around me, and the start of school means a major, major increase in the number of cars on the road in our little hamlet at 8:10 a.m. My guess is that the number is double what it is in the summertime, or perhaps more.
And the thing is, if your kid is going to the public school, which just about every kid I know is, the bus probably goes right in front of your house. Yet there you are, packing up the kid(s) into 4,000 pounds of SUV for the three quarters of a mile drive to school.
I know–nobody wants to hear a preachy environmental sermon from some self righteous guy who bikes each morning. We’ll leave that to Al Bore. But hear me out.
I know things happen, and mornings are hectic. Our own Little G was the happy recipient of a half dozen rides to school last year when, for a variety of reasons, we simply were not making the bus. Kids oversleep, or they’re a bit sick, or they suddenly need the bathroom 60 seconds before the bus is due to arrive, after denying needing to go three times before that.
So by all means, drive the kid when the situation arises. Free country. And heck–gas is only, what, 4 bucks a gallon.
But for those moments when you’re on the fence, when you don’t really have a good reason to drive the kid, when your eyes search for the car keys solely out of habit, get them to the bus stop.
I think most kids actually dig the bus. For Little G, the so-called Big Yellow Cheese was the one thing he was looking forward to resuming this September. Not school. The bus.
And it gets them in the habit of riding mass transit each day, as opposed to putting another SUV on the road. And running the stop sign in front of the school when the crazy guy on the bike is flying down Heartbreak Hill, trying to catch the 8:16.
And that’s a good thing.