Second grade has been a different experience for us than the previous school years. During kindergarten and first grade, I walked our son to and from school every day and dropped him off without too much interaction with other parents, except for a select few and his teachers. This year is a whole different ball game because his school changed location and now he takes a bus to get there.
We have a very large bus stop and a very unreliable bus driver, giving me lots of time to get to know the other local bus stop moms and really observe their interactions with their kids. What I picked up on truly surprised me, and honestly, made me feel like the odd mom out.
Many other moms appear to be involved in every single issue their kids encounters while waiting for the bus, or coming off the bus. It makes me worried about the future generation! How are kids supposed to ever learn to fight their own battles and deal with whatever problems they face in life if their parents do it for them? Thinking back on my childhood, there was one (yes, ONE!) incident that I can call recall from fourth grade where I was so distraught over my best friend trying to choose the same historical figure as me for our annual puppet show that my mom had to call my teacher. Every other time I had to handle crappy situations that I got into with my friends on my own; I had to seek out my own help on school projects that I didn’t understand. These coping skills have stuck with me and helped me both problem solve and deal with any confrontations in adulthood. I have always fought my own battles, and I think my son should, too.
So, the day that I pulled my son off the bus, crying about something so that we could go home and discuss the situation together, I looked very insensitive to the group of moms who were immediately in my face as soon as I turned around from the bus steps.
“You know, there’s someone on that bus whose making him cry like that!” They all sang in my ears.
“Well, duh.” I wanted to say in response, but didn’t.
He obviously wasn’t crying for no reason; he was upset about something that happened with another kid on the bus. But you know what? He’s seven years old, and there are going to be situations that upset him. But if I constantly interfere, call the school, step on the bus and hunt down the person making my son cry—he will never learn how to overcome problems on his own. It’s my job as his parent to look at these situations as teaching moments, giving him the opportunity to learn coping skills that will stay with him his entire life. Otherwise, I don’t think I’m doing my job.
So no, I’m not the “mean mom,” just a concerned parent looking at the bigger picture. I hope that some of my bus stop mamas will join me.
This piece was originally published in Mommy Nearest Magazine.