Keep Your Eye on the Bus (#505)

I see them just out of the corner of my eye as I drive to work on the highway at the height of rush hour:
Little yellow schoolbuses, just like the one that Jim or I have just put Charlie on.

Charlie’s busride is not even a half-hour long from the time he steps on (“Hey Charlie!” the bus driver has been saying with a smile and, in an aside to Jim this morning, “he’s the only one who gets on everyday with a smile”) until he is greeted by a mini-phalanx of teachers. Charlie did not always have this liking for the schoolbus: It was only after staying home for a month because we could not find an appropriate classroom placement for him a year ago last November that Charlie became so eager, and so insistent, about the bus—his bus—pulling up in front of our house five days a week. I even worried that the sight of the bus and the bus ride had a stronger hold on him than his old school itself did (in the end, it was the teachers and the physical space and the kindly spirit that truly meant so much to him) and than his new school does now (different teachers, different building, and same kindly spirit, mean the most).

It means a lot that Charlie is going to school in the town in which we live, and that his grandparents have been part of for over thirty years. This is the town in which Charlie visits the library, is a regular at every grocery store, rides his bike. Four cars stopped as he deboarded the bus after school: We’re a house with a special boy. Let people take notice.

The schoolbuses I see during my morning commute are taking special needs students to out of district placements. One such autism center that Charlie could have attended had we stayed in our old house is in a town that I pass on the highway and I am quite certain that that is where a certain yellow school bus that I drove alongside for a half-mile this morning was headed.

I just glimpsed a gangly brown haired boy—adolescent age—staring straight ahead, but I did glimpse the name of the town on the side of the bus: It is a town in central New Jersey where we lived from 2001-2003, after we had first moved back here from the Midwest. We had moved to this town because it had a quite well-established public school autism program with a certain phenomenal autism teacher (who was Charlie’s teacher for several happy months). We have stayed in touch with some families and just learned that at least one student is being sent out of district to an autism center a good hour-plus away, and that student must have been in the bus right beside my car this morning.

What if we had stayed in that town? What if that commute—not a pleasant one—had been Charlie’s, day in and day out?

I lost sight of the bus, which veered to the right to turn off the highway.

I kept driving onward, knowing that, several miles back, Charlie was walking the length of the grass in front of “Grappa’s house,” one eye keeping watch for his particular prize, his yellow school bus.

One Response to “Keep Your Eye on the Bus (#505)”
  1. Julia says:

    All our kids are in-district; if it becomes necessary to move Sam out-of-district, from what I hear there’s a good program at the nearest district.

    But they’re at 2 different schools, sigh. We’re driving to one to drop off Sam, and then to another to drop off the twins — and there are 3 elementary schools in the district, and the one we “should” be using for geographical reasons is the only one we don’t! 😛

    DH doesn’t want to put any of them on a bus yet. I think my younger son would do fine, but his twin sister and older brother might not. (Funny how the last-born is the first to accept some things! And how the littlest is the first to try some things!)

    (The principal at Sam’s school is aware of the issue and is going to bring that up at the meeting for figuring out where all the various “special education” programs are going to be next year. It would be nice to just take all 3 to 1 school.)

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