“Oh sweetie, someday you will ride the bus,” my words meant to pacify yet sounded sharply dismissive.
“I want to ride the bus now,” he insisted! ”Why do I not ride the bus like other kids?”
“Because Mommy likes to drive you to school. Because it’s our special Mom and Son time. Because the bus for your class is different from that one.”
Because it’s not that simple for you, I thought. Because those kids look innocent enough but their normalness is petrifying. Because you might not fit in and that could hurt you and if you are hurt it will decimate me and I just cannot take that risk. I cannot be decimated right now. Because you are my one and only baby and I cannot bear to let go. Because it is my job to protect you.
“Oh, well I would really like to ride the bus,” he whispered dejectedly.
“I know mi vida. I know. And you will, someday.”
On our drive to school he asked for a pencil and paper. I obliged and he began thoughtfully working on a project with the focus and concentration reserved for elaborate Mario Bros scenarios.
As we approached the school I began to go through my morning Mommy checklist. Finish up your breakfast, little one. Today is a Miss Cassandra day, she will pick you up, okay? Today is fruit and yogurt plate day, today you will buy your lunch. I put a note in your book.
Okay, sweetheart. You ready? Breathe. Believe. Begin.
Breathe: Deep breathe in and exhale.
Believe: ”Who can do it? Peter can!”
Begin: ”Here we go, first grader!”
As I hastened through the drop-off line he reached out to me and returned the pencil and the paper.
“Here it is, Mommy. It’s my bus ticket – for tomorrow.”
And just like that, in the best and worst way ever, I was decimated. Looking at this little piece of paper. This paper that exerted so much determination and hope.
This piece of paper that screamed out to me, “He’s ready. It’s you that aren’t. Let go!”
I did the only thing I could.
I wiped the tears from my eyes, blew him a kiss goodbye, and drove home and contacted the school.
Tomorrow he rides the bus; we’ve already got his ticket.