Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Is my angst worth the cost?

Specifically, is my vague unsubstantiated worry about putting my 5 year old on a bus with 16 year olds, worth at least $250 a month? That is how much gas would cost me to drive him to school & pick him up every day. It is 22 miles one way, in a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon, with gas at $3.15 a gallon. And this is in addition to my regular gas costs. Our county is rural, we just got our first grocery store 2 years ago & its a small crappy store. Our 'downtown' is full of small restaurants & junk-tique stores. If I want to buy some decent produce, or fill a prescription or need some socks, I have to drive another 30 miles from the school in order to do so (though due to the way the roads are laid out, I can to these places in 20 miles from my house). Apart from gas & the occasional old movie rental, there is very little I can buy "on the way" to or from school. I'm already driving the kid to preschool, so this is not speculation on my part. I know how much it costs me from experience.

Next year though he will be in kindergarten & there is a school bus. But this county is rural with a low population density and cannot afford multiple bus runs to the same area to pick up maybe a dozen kids per school. There is one primary school, one elementary school, one middle school & one high school and all the kids on the bus route ride one bus together.

They publish the bus routes in the paper before school starts, so I know from this year what route Havoc will be on next year. It is unlikely to change. The bus starts at the county line, coming down our road (We live a mile inside the county), picks up all the kids on our 5 mile long road, picks up the kids on the renamed part of this road on the other side of the intersection & then goes to the schools. About 10 miles of homes. This is not a subdivision. This is farm country. My nearest neighbors are about an eighth of a mile away on either side of me & across the street. You can see no other homes from my home. I don't know my neighbors. I don't know if they have kids and I don't know anything about those kids. There is no way to casually walk by someone's house to meet them. You have to get in your car and drive, usually up a long driveway. You have to be intrusive & assertive & determined. I am not these things. But then, apparently neither are my neighbors, because in 10 years only the people across the street have ever come over to introduce themselves.

I'm worried about Havoc on the bus. He's a shy & sensitive kid, with glasses. You know the type. The ones who get picked on mercilessly by others? That's him. He hasn't been picked on yet & I'd like to put it off . Would he be better off on a bus full of primary school kids? I think so, not just from the bullying standpoint but also because I don't think 6 year olds should be exposed to 16 year olds, to what they talk about, to how they behave. Maybe there will be some great older kids on that bus & Havoc will get along great with them. But maybe he'll get molested. Someone did, about 5 years ago there was an incident. Though to be honest that took place in a different county & that county switched to multiple bus routes the following year. But I don't want my kid to be this county's test case. I know I am overreacting and being an anxious mother. People who don't live in this county & who's 6 year olds ride with other primary school kids have full sympathy for me. People who live in this county say "oh." They don't think I am nuts or overprotective (Or they don't say so anyway) they just don't seem to see the issue. Of course the kids ride one bus. They road the bus with the older kids & eventually they were the older kids who road the bus with the little ones. That's just normal.

I'm trying to sort out how much of this is a rational concern & how much of this is mom not wanting her baby to grow up. He is in school now, it's not that. But somehow putting him on a bus is emotionally so much more for me. I cry just thinking about it. I don't mind the teacher taking away his time with me, but I just want to shout "NO YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM!!" to the bus driver. Not my baby. not yet.  And I know deep down it's just that that is the problem. There are legitimate concerns about him being on the bus, but mostly I think it might be that he's not my baby anymore. Is it worth $250 a month for me to avoid dealing with this for another year. Next year Mayhem will be on the bus and I feel much easier in my mind if they are together. 

Kindergarten registration is tomorrow. Where did my baby go?

No comments: