Driving to the bus stop?

When I walk home from the gym in the morning, if I hit it at just the right time I walk by a school bus stop. I’ve been seeing something at the bus stop that I find curious:

Why are parents driving their kid to the bus stop and dropping them off?

I’ve seen it enough, and by the same cars/parents, that I know this isn’t some one-time fluke such as Junior running late. As someone who went to public school for K-12 and either walked or took the bus, I do know what a pain it can be for parents if Junior misses the bus.

But that’s not what I see.

Are these children living so far away from the bus stop they can’t walk? Perhaps, but most school systems make the bus routes and stops within reasonable walking distance. From the looks of it, I’d say these are junior-high school kids, so they certainly have the physical ability to walk a little ways.

Heck, the other morning as I was walking home, I saw a minivan pull out of a driveway… drive 2 blocks to the bus stop… drop off the child… then the mother drove back home.

WTF?

Two blocks.

Your child couldn’t walk two blocks?

I’m dying to ask that parent just why they drive their child to the bus stop, especially when this is a vehicle I’ve seen do this on numerous occasions.

Is it a matter of being late to the bus? Well, every parent seems to be arriving well on time and if in fact you do miss the bus it teaches you two things: 1. how to run (faster), 2. how not to be late so you don’t miss the bus again. They can also teach you the value of “hustle”, which seems to have a different meaning to kids these days.

Yeah, I sound like a grumpy old man now… uphill both ways in the snow.

Nevertheless, I find it most curious and perhaps a little bothersome. Maybe it’s because I’m walking home from the gym, which is not just that I’m in a post-exercise frame of mind but because I intentionally chose to walk to/from the gym because I think it’s kinda silly to drive half a mile when the whole purpose is to exercise… it’s like that famous picture of the escalators outside a 24 Hour Fitness. And we go on and on about kids not getting enough exercise, when walking a few blocks every day would certainly do them good.

Could it be they don’t feel the kids are safe? I grant the world may have some ugly people in it, but if you won’t let your child walk 2 blocks away from your own house then perhaps you should reconsider where you live in the first place. Or maybe consider not letting your child out of your sight, ever.

Or maybe this is just that day of helicopter parenting, when parents give all for their children… everything except the ability, confidence, and wherewithal to do things for themselves. Not sure how kids are going to survive because someday they will have to be allowed out from under their parent’s wings.

I’m sure I’m filling in the informational gaps with my own biases. I don’t know why these parents keep driving their kids a few blocks to the bus stop. Still, I find it curious. Maybe one morning I’ll ask.

15 thoughts on “Driving to the bus stop?

  1. Can’t help you with the Whys, but I will say that one of the local districts here: a couple years ago decided that to save money they would change the bus routes. Instead of picking up/dropping off the kid at the house they were now going to stop a couple blocks down and pick up the kids en-mass, fewer stops, shorter trips, money saved! Then the parents found out. You’d think making a 13yr old walk two blocks was going to cause cardiac arrest or something. Complete freak out. So its not just your area thats like this.

    Personally I grew up in a school system where if you A: lived more than a mile from school you got bussed, B: were in Kindergarten or younger you got bussed, or C: were handicapped in some way you got bussed. Everyone else had to either get a ride or walk. Since the town is all of 1.5 miles wide at the widest point not very many kids got bussed. I checked with my mom and she says that the school system STILL has those same rules, and they don’t appear to be changing any time soon. I walked pretty close to a mile to school most days of the year (if it was pouring rain I could usually catch a ride), and yes that included crossing busy streets. Hasn’t killed me yet!

    • We are a couple of old people bitching about how things used to be. 😉

      I just went to Google Maps and looked up my elementary school path. According to the walking directions, it was a 1.5 mile walk, tho I know we kids took shortcuts and a more direct route than Google Maps said. Regardless, it was at least a mile to walk… as a kid in elementary school (pre-3rd grade). And we actually loved it! When I moved to Virginia, I had to be bussed to school because we lived far enough away from school, but nevertheless, bussed we were. And no one picked up kids in front of their houses… you had to walk to the nearest stop and deal with the other kids there, some cool, some troublemakers, but that’s just part of life.

      What in the world changed? I am so curious why these parents are driving their kids just a couple blocks to the bus stop.

      • It does make me feel old. Ahhh!

        I get that in some ways the world seems less safe, I do understand that, but at the same time if you never teach your kid how to “do” for themselves they never will, and walking a couple blocks to the bus is a very minor “do” as such things go, especially since you as a parent can walk along with them!

  2. Amen! This old fart agrees with you 100%.

    My daughter’s grade school was a mile from our home. Had it not been for the facts that 1) she is a she, 2) the walk to school is a pretty good climb, and 3) my wife would never go for it, I would have had my daughter walk to and/or from school for the 6th grade year. Now, she’s in 7th grade, and she has a valid excuse for not walking to the Jr. High (slightly more than a mile away) – a broken hip that is healing. However, I’ve voiced the opinion that she should walk to school once she is physically capable. Her mother is, of course, against it. (It is, after all, a mom’s job to be protective of a child.) My grade school was across the street from my parents’ house, but I had to ride my bike a mile and a half to and from Jr. High, and almost that far for High School. I only got a ride if it was raining or there was some other good reason.

    I think many parents are afraid to make their kids to really work for things, as if it is some kind of punishment. Most people feel entitled to what they need or want, and it seems that they are passing that belief on to their kids.

    • I do understand the protective mother thing — Wife is the same way. But I keep coming back to the same point: that it’s our job as parents to prepare our children for the real world and life without us. It’s natural for a parent to save their children from pain, but would you rather they have little pain now or large pain later? I’d rather my children take a little pain now and learn and grow and be able to function in the world, than to always be protected, coddled, and tended to so they can’t function later in life and end up with much bigger pains.

      I know I’m no where as hard-ass as my Dad was on me, or his Dad before him, and so on. But I don’t want my children to be incapable of functioning in the world. If they need to work now, have pain now, etc…. I’d rather they do, because they’ll be so much further ahead of their peers for it.

  3. As a kid, I either walked to the bus stop (about 200 yards), or to school (about a mile) sometimes when the weather was nice. That was a small town/rural setting, and everybody else did the same.

    I’m not a mom, so maybe I don’t understand the protective thing, but I think if you’re worried about your kid, you walk with them, or you stand out on the lawn and watch them walk the 2 blocks to the bus stop.

    • Wife said the same thing: walk with them or stand on the lawn.

      I’m getting very curious to just ask one of these parents if I see them.

  4. You and I appear to be about the same age. When we grew up, perverts and child molesters were thrown in jail, then killed by the inmates. Illegal alien criminals were deported. In our small towns where people lived for decades at a time, parents knew the kids and watched out for each other. It was acceptable and safe to let an elementary school age child or older daughter out of the parent’s sight.

    Now child molesters “have a problem” and are given “treatment”. Illegal alien criminals are welcomed in the USA. People are more mobile and move every few years to chase a job or bigger house. Towns are now cities and everything is much bigger. It would be stupid to let a daughter of any age out alone where some pervert can grab her and drive off.

    • I don’t deny how the world has changed.

      Perhaps I wasn’t totally clear in the picture tho of what I saw. These parents were just dropping the kids off — they weren’t sticking around. Drive the kid to the bus stop, drop the kid, then leave. If a parent did want to stick around and watch kiddo to ensure they got on the bus (and perhaps watch all the other kids at the stop too to ensure they were safe), then that’s fine. But that certainly isn’t what was happening. There was nothing that gave me the impression the parents were doing this for the safety of the child… or, if they were doing it for that reason, they’re not doing a very complete job of it.

  5. OMG, thank you!! I KNEW someone else feels this way. I googled “driving to the bus stop” to see if anyone else has these thoughts. I live 3/10’s of a mile from our bus stop. My child is 4 years old. In our neighborhood we live the furthest back of any other student attending school as in, all other kids at the bus stop live closer to the actual stop. Me and my four year old WALK the 3/10 ‘s mile EVERY morning only to be getting to the side of the road to not get hit by the cars of the parents who DRIVE their kids to the bus stop. EVERY kid is older than my four year old. How is it that my four year old can walk three tenths mile, but fifth graders are riding with their parents?? It blows my mind every morning. Furthermore, we are all choking on the exhaust fumes of the lazy asses that drive their kids that also leave their cars running at the bus stop. Not to mention a line of idling cars crowds the area where the children are standing further endangering their lives. Many of the kids routinely walk between the idling cars to get to the actual spot where the bus stops. People bringing up safety matters are FULL OF CRAP. If you’re worried about safety, ACCOMPANY and escort your child to the bus stop by walking with them. The percentage of a car related accident due to the kids meandering among the running cars is much higher than the percentage of a psycho abducting your child from your side as you walk to the bus stop. I walk with my son, stand with him and wait until the bus pulls away and he is waving from the window as it drives off. I do not walk him there and leave him. From the looks of these driving parents, they could all stand to lose a few pounds. The laziness is mind boggling, yet like you said, childhood obesity is a modern issue. Even with my four year old we still manage to walk the 3/10’s mile within 6-8 minutes depending on how often we stop to look at the stars, the sunrise, the condensation on plants and spider webs and of course standing to the side to let the lazy asses by that drive their kids to the bus stop. Therefore it can only be argued that anyone is getting to sleep only 6 extra minutes by driving vs. walking. It clears your mind, gets your blood flowing and we appreciate the nature of the early morning. People cheat themselves of so much in the name of convenience while further deteriorating our lungs and environment by the unnecessary consumption of fossil fuels. I can only hope to set an example and I guess my reward is that I’m skinny and the other parents are either fat or have no physical definition whatsoever. THANK YOU for stating what you did!!!!! Our progressive perspective is unfortunately in the minority.

    • This isn’t a progressive perspective… it’s rather an old school conservative one… going back to “the way it was”.

      I like your additional perspective on it: that ti lets you look at the stars, the sunrise, the plants, the other wonders of nature and life around you… instead of just living in one box, then going into the portable box, which shuttles you to the larger portable box, which shuttles you to the big box of government compliance and conformance box, then reverse to return back to the one box….

  6. I also walked to my neighborhood elementary school and my Jr. High School growing up in a suburb just north of Boston, MA. There was side walk access. Today I live on a busy “country” street, no sidewalks, no soft shoulder and sporadic street lights in Northern, MA. The average speed of cars on this road is 40 to 45 mph (speed limit is 30 mph). There have been two car crashes affecting my property all in the early morning commute. As an adult, I will not walk on my own road during commuting times due to speeding motorists. In the winter, one is forced to walk in the road. So sending my kids to the bus stop even .1 miles down the road is a risky proposition. There was one neighborhood child struck by a car while walking home from school (not a lazy entitled one); he was hit, lucky to live but lost his leg. This is a rural neighborhood with country rock walls, no sidewalks outside of municipal areas or state roads. So, my take on it (from my prospective) is my kids aren’t lazy or obese. It’s a safety issues related to speeding motorists, lack of lighting when the older kids get picked up and it’s pitch black in the winter, and no sidewalks for safe passage.

  7. I homeschool my daughter right now and just signed her up for public school and the bus stop is 13 blocks away and she has to walk on a dangerous street with lots of prostitution and drugs. I am now debating not allowing her to go just because of the walk to the bus. The bus needs to pick my child up closer to my house to ensure her safety.

    • Now see, that’s a reason that makes some sense to drive your kid to the bus stop, wait, and pick them up afterwards.

      But speaking as a homeschooler, I guess my first question is… why would you stop homeschooling and send your kid to government school? 🙂

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