November 17, 2011

Riding the Bus... or Not.

Tears streamed down his face as I tried to gently push him into the open door of the bus.  His hands grasped the doors, resisting, and he looked so small compared to that big yellow bus.  He was absolutely beside himself.  Even as his friend was calling to him from inside the bus, telling him to come, he just wouldn't.  They couldn't wait.  I pulled him back and he crumpled to the ground, I pulled his arm and told him to get up.

By the time we got home, he was calm again.  I, on the other hand, was beside myself.  I was angry at him.  So angry that he couldn't just get on the bus, that now he would be late for school, that I had to hurry and get ready, that I had to get his little brother ready and take him inside the school too.  Angry because it's not convenient to drive him every day.

I was also extremely upset.  We have a really strong emotional connection, and when he breaks down like that it breaks my heart.  I KNOW that he is not just trying to be difficult, I know that he was really upset about getting on the bus.  I hate seeing him that way.  I hate that he feels so scared or uncomfortable or whatever that he will physically pull back from getting on the bus.  I hate that the bus driver and the other kids witness it too. 

I've tried talking to Sam about why he doesn't want to ride the bus.  Mostly, his answer is that he wants to be with me.  Between the adjustment to school - going from 2.5 hours of preschool 4 days a week to 6.5 hours of school plus bus time 5 days a week - and tension at home, he is unsettled.  He is clingy, and now there are no substitutes.  He wants me to play with him, put him to bed, drive him to school.  All of it.

It's exhausting.  Having someone want that much of me just drains me.  And since Danny is only 18 months old, it's more like having two people who want me like that.  Sometimes I feel like I just want to climb up high where no one can reach me so I can just be by myself for a few minutes.

With the bus, I'm not sure what to do.  He has relayed that there WAS an incident one day.  There are 3 boys at the playground/bus stop that Sam is friends with and plays with.  One of them in particular is very hot and cold with Sam.  One day they play well, and the next day this boy is not really being Sam's friend and is tattling on him or sometimes making fun of him in a way.  Apparently, when Sam tried to sit in a seat with this boy and one of the others one day, they pushed him out of the seat.

Sam is a really sensitive kid, and it's hard for him to understand why someone would be his friend one day and not the next.  He is a good friend, and he would never turn and NOT want to play or be friends anymore.  His friends mean the world to him, and it's confusing to him when they don't want to be around him or are not being that nice to him.

Between the pushing incident and the general rowdiness and number of kids on the bus, I think it's not a place he feels that safe.  He has said that he doesn't like it because there are so many kids and only one grown up.  And that grown up is concentrating on driving the bus, and can't be watching every second.

I'm just not sure what to do at this point.  I could just drive him to school every day.  It's not that convenient - it's about 10-15 minutes each way, and once I get there I have to unstrap Danny and walk Sam into his classroom.  BUT it would give us more time in the morning, he would be able to get 15 or 20 more minutes of sleep and have a bit more time to wake up and get ready.  Maybe we could split it so that I drive him a few times a week and Justin drops him off some days, or my Mom could take him on days she is volunteering at the school.  I also talked to his special ed teacher, and it is a possibility to get him on the special ed bus.  It would be a smaller bus with less kids, and maybe he'd feel more comfortable.  When I suggested it to him though, he was just concerned that his friends wouldn't be on it.  Which is funny, because he won't get on the bus his friends ARE on.

Is it really worth it to try and force him to ride the bus?  Maybe I should just wait until he's ready.  If I thought that he was doing this just because he wants to be with me, I might try to force it.  But I really do feel like he is not comfortable on the bus.  The last thing I want to do is force him into a situation that is making him anxious or unsure.  I know that going to school takes a lot of effort for him.  He gets tired, and I don't want him starting his day every day with something that's stressing him out.  

Have you deal with a challenge like this?  How did you resolve it?

This week, I chose prompt #2.) Your biggest parenting challenge and/or joy.


Angie @ TheLittleMumma said...

I don't have any advice. But I can certainly understand why this is so traumatic for you. Being a mother is hard enough but when our children are frightened or upset, it's heart-wrenching.

I hope you can work it out with your little guy. If only we really knew what was going on in their little brains.

Ediehope said...

I think it's friggin' scary on a school bus that big. I never rode a bus when I was little but I did all the way through jr high and high school. A lot of stuff goes on that the bus driver has no idea about. The more I read about it, the less it seems like a good idea to force him. Starting the day all freaked out will definitely affect his school day. It's one of those things special ed teachers call an antecedent event. It refers to whatever happened before a behavior incident that put the kid in the mood he's in. With older kids you can spend time talking it out, but I think it would be difficult for his kindergarten teacher to do that with 24 other kids to take care of. Some kids can handle it, but Sam has sensory input issues and that bus ride probably overloads him which can leave him exhausted before school even starts. Believe me, you will feel better looking back on this if you let it work out in it's own time. 

Liz Sawyer said...

Tough stuff here. I know several families who drive their kids despite having the bus as an option in their area, but I also know families who struggled with this in Kindergarten but then by 1st grade their kids think it's "cool". A good friend of mine had to take her daughter off the private school bus when she was in Kindergarten because the content of conversations & social interactions are drastically different between a Kinder & a 3rd grader or 5th grader.  Some things I would consider: what is going to make going to school fun? it would be a shame if it started affecting him not wanting to go to school. Is there a parent you can carpool with? They drive the kids' to school, you pick them up. Is there a drop-off location where you do not have to walk him to his classroom? If so, um... I have been known to drive my son with myself & his brother in pj's :-) If you do choose the bus, remember it's hard to establish the routine at first no matter if it's bus, bedtime, etc. 

Emily said...

I couldn't even get through this post I was crying too much. My five year old has completely unraveled since entering kindergarten this fall.  It's not the time, because he used to spend more than eight hours a day at preschool.  Kindergarten is just such a huge adjustment for them.  Now he is seeing a therapist and being diagnosed and evaluated by the school.  My beautiful boy, don't they know how intelligent he is, funny and empathic?  I am right there with you.  

Katya Kate said...

I am with you, this is indeed tough. My kids never ride their school bus too, they felt it too over whelming. I'm just lucky I have my father in law to drive them to and from school. However if your little boy can make good friends, he might want to join the fun in the bus too. Wish his classmates would be nicer.. 

I'm sure this temporary situation will pass. He may soon adjust to it! Good luck!