The Bus Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

The Bus Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

From A 6th Bowl of Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Bus Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

I remember leading my oldest to the big yellow school bus, name tag pinned to his striped shirt, which was tucked in and matched perfectly with his cotton pants. With a new backpack over his shoulders, he turned to glance at me before heading up the steps.

“It’ll be fine,” I said. “You’ll make lots of new friends, learn wonderful things and have lots of fun.” As I gave him a hug, he looked up at me and asked what time he would be back. I tried to assure him as I sent him up the steps. “You’ll be home at lunchtime. The bus will bring you right back here, and I’ll be waiting for you, and you can tell me everything.” It happened just that way. Not long after that I sent my youngest on the big yellow bus, and when it brought her back, I was there waiting for her, too.

As our lives changed, I acquired a full-time job and could no longer wait for them as they arrived home, but the big yellow bus still stopped in front of my house each and every day to bring them safely back. In the evening as we sat for dinner, they were anxious to share their day with me. We talked about friends and recess, teachers and books. My refrigerator became a gallery full of “star” papers, pictures and report cards. Every Mother’s Day they planted marigolds in milk cartons decorated with crayons and construction paper and carefully carried them home accompanied with the most beautiful cards. I wore priceless macaroni jewelry and paper corsages. As my children grew over the years, I still counted on the bus to bring them safely home each and every day, and it continued to do so school year after school year.

Before I knew it, they were talking about driver licenses and part-time jobs, dances and dates. They no longer made Mother’s Day cards; instead they borrowed the car and drove to the store to purchase them. Marigolds in milk cartons turned into hanging planters or small bouquets, which they purchased with the money they had earned. They wore what they wanted whether it matched or not, and the macaroni jewelry found a permanent home as a decoration on our Christmas tree.

Their backpacks grew heavier as the books they carried got thicker. The refrigerator now held a calendar, which was necessary to keep track of their busier schedules, and a dry-erase board so that we could communicate our whereabouts to each other when we weren’t at home— which by now was most of the time. They were once small children, and now they were young adults who were quickly becoming more and more independent. The big yellow bus no longer stopped each day in front of my house.

High school had gone by quickly; and before I could turn around, my daughter, the youngest, was investigating colleges, and my son had graduated. He pondered his future and opted to join the military. He was ordered to report to his station one sunny, August morning to be sworn in. I went along with other proud parents to witness the beginning of their new lives. I caught a glance of him when I was leaving, just as he was swinging his backpack over his shoulders. Although I had seen him do this hundreds of times, it was somehow different this time. I looked around at all of them, these fine young men and women lined up, one foot over the threshold of their bright futures, backpacks over their shoulders and waiting for—what else—a bus! I walked over to my son and reached up to give him a hug, and he looked down at me. I had done this before, I thought, but where had the years gone?

He was suddenly five years old again, and I asked him if he was nervous. “A little,” he said.

“Don’t be nervous,” I assured him. “It will be fine. Think of all the opportunities you’ll have and all the new people you’ll meet.”

I hugged him again and sent him on his way. I could barely get the words out of my mouth as he walked forward, but I did manage to whisper, “When you come home, I’ll be here waiting for you, and you can tell me everything.”

Denise Syman

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