I thought my kids would ride the bus to school, just like I did as a kid. I called the school district when my daughter started first grade and learned that the bus ride took a full hour each way to school. We live just 8 miles away, so I thought this seemed a bit excessive.
The bus stop was located a half-mile from my house, so each morning I would have to load up my two younger children and my first grader in the car and drive to the bus stop at 7 a.m. I could pick her up at 4 p.m.
I quickly decided to just drive her to school myself. It only took about 15 minutes each way, and I could leave my house with all my children and a cup of coffee at 8 a.m. At first, I thought it would be inconvenient to make the drive twice a day, but now taking my daughter to school each morning is one of my favorite parts of the day. I bundle up her younger brothers in fuzzy slippers and blankets, and we all pile into my car for the group trip to elementary school.
We listen to K-LOVE radio, and the conversation often turns to spiritual matters. My daughter asks me why Jesus had to die. She asks what heaven looks like, what is grace, how God can be two people at once, and if we get sick after we die. She told me she will teach all the old people in heaven how to swim because she took swimming lessons this summer.
Other times, the conversation turns to her favorite subject in school. She likes science and math. She likes learning about how things work and teaching her next-youngest brother to count. He likes dinosaurs.
The boys don’t typically contribute a whole lot to our morning conversations. My one-year-old grunts when he wants more juice, and my four-year-old looks out the window. Sometimes, he yells “There’s a T-Rex chasing the car! And now it’s on the roof! Ahhhhh! Drive faster, Mommy, drive faster!” and then we all pretend to be scared and scream and laugh.
Once we get to the drop-off line, I park and walk her to the playground gate. We kiss each other good-bye and I tell her to have an awesome day. She says “Bye, Mom, love you!” and runs toward her classroom door, full of innocent enthusiasm and a slice of my homemade cinnamon bread that she ate for breakfast.
Taking her to school allows us precious time together without the distractions of watching TV or fighting over toys. We look out the window (well, I look out the windshield), talk about things we see, and, more often than not, she asks me a deep-thought question about religion, marriage, or what I wanted to be when I was a kid.
I feel much more connected to her throughout the day when I drive her to school and walk her to the gate. At the beginning of the school year, the unworkable bus schedule seemed like a terrible stroke of luck. Now, I’m grateful for our car rides to school.