Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

The short bus saved my summer.

I’ve written about some favorite summertime memories over the past few months. At times, I documented them as they were happening. Others were shared after the fact, once I’d realized that they had happened and were unexpectedly wonderful. I wrote about Life’s Turning Points and celebrated when Tucker said “Happy to YOU!” on his fourth birthday.

It’s hard to choose a single summertime memory as a favorite. Some from this one include the nights that I ignored my computer, and you, and snuggled up with my husband to watch True Blood. They include unplanned moments of laughter and levity and amazement. The beach. Waterplay. Giggles and tickles and Tucker “getting” imaginative play. Flying ninees and blowing bubbles. We had perfect moments. We had getting dirty and wet and having to strip at the door kind of fun.

We had summer.


Tonight, as I type this at the lastminute (as in, worse than usual), I just tucked Tucker in (tucking in tuckered-out Tucker)…and for the first time ever, he said “No, Mommy. Right here,” when I said goodnight. That’s a favorite. New. Him getting IT, getting goodnight, getting snuggles on a new level.

I’m going to tell you about a summertime memory that will stay with me forever. I don’t know that it’s a favorite but I know that it has been a right of passage. It represents me, letting go a little bit. Me realizing that sometimes, what doesn’t seem okay at all may later become a relief.  A gift.

When Tucker’s teachers came to my home more than a year ago to talk to me about the programs they had, and to explain what Preschool Autism Class (PAC) and Non-categorical preschool (non-cat) for developmental delays was, I was shocked that PAC was six and a half hours long, three days a week. The other two days were almost three and four hours. First hearing that was like hearing my dreambubble pop.


Tucker was supposed to go to Montessori school. Like I did. And he was supposed to go for maybe three days a week, for three hours at a time.

When his now-teacher first said that she thought PAC would be a good fit for him, I said “Well, but he doesn’t have autism.” She assured me that it didn’t matter but thought I should consider the program – that it would help him. I can’t tell you how many hours my husband and I talked about what to do. I can’t remember now how often I cried over the fact that I wasn’t touring preschools on my terms.

Eventually, we agreed to try PAC for a few weeks. Secretly, I was convinced that we’d pull him out after the trial period. Except for when we didn’t. Because it was working.

Another benefit was that we were able to access the county’s transportation option. As in, we qualified to have The Short Bus pick Tucker up and drop him off, every single day. Right in front of our house. An aide and a driver, taking him to and from school each day. For free.

Of course I refused. Who wouldn’t? I mean, come on. Everybody knows that fate is more easily controlled when mom is behind the wheel, right? Plus, there are horror stories about special needs kids riding the bus. I much preferred the control of walking him to and from the arms of his teachers to waving bye-bye to him while he rounded the corner without me on a bigboy bus. So yeah, I refused the free short bus and drove Tucker to and from school each and every day. For nine months.

Until I learned about the summer school schedule. Until I learned that he’d be off for a few weeks in July and then again for almost a month in August. That, in between those breaks, his school hours would be shortened to four hours/day.

Never mind that the four hours/day was much closer to my then unpopped bubble of a dream. By then, I’d gotten a job, had created Finding Ninee, and I needed those hours.

Selfish, perhaps. But the job and this blog have done Big Goodthings for me. For us.

So. Back in May, just before summer school was going to begin, I added Tucker to the bus schedule. I talked about car seat options and purchased a voice-activated tape recorder to hide in his backpack. I stayed up most of the night the first day he was going to have the bus pick him up. That morning, in tears, I rambled on to the bus driver that he was instructed to turn around immediately if Tucker was upset. If he was scared. If any of the anythings I’d imagined would happen were even hinting at happening. It took superhuman strength to not get in my car and follow that bus to school.

That first day, Tucker did cry a little bit once he realized that I wasn’t strapping in next to him. But after that? The bus has been good fortune. It’s actually made it easier for me to get Tucker out the door every morning. And each afternoon that he gets off of it wearing a gigantic grin while exclaiming “Tuck-uck! Bus!” is a victory.

The short bus saved my summer.

Every afternoon, we wave bye-bye to the bus as it leaves our stoop. Every afternoon, I no longer worry about the prying neighbor eyes wondering what’s wrong with my kid that we get door-to-door service. Every afternoon, I thank my county, my husband, myself, and my son for making this work. Because although I want to be everywhere that he is, protecting and reassuring him, I realize that by letting the bus deliver my baby to and from school is not only good for me, for my job, and for my blog, but that it’s good for my son. For the first time in his life, he’s been trusted to be a bigboy. And that, my friends, is important. And enough of a favorite memory for me.

What about you? What sticks in your mind this summer? I’d love to hear about it.

Also, do you guys know Kathy from My Dishwasher’s Possessed? She’s wonderful and amazing and we share undiagnosed kids. I mean, we don’t co-parent or anything in case you were working out how Robert fits into the equation. I mean, both of us parent…I mean there’s nothing wrong with co-parenting…it’s just that we don’t do it together…ugh.  Never mind that part. Kathy’s dishwasher interviewed me this week and my answers are up at her place today. Check her out. I’m pretty sure you’ll love her.

your hosts: 
janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic
kate: Can I get another bottle of whine?
stephanie: Mommy, for Real
me: finding ninee

Next week, 9/20 – our sentence is “I deserve a medal for the time I…”

  • Janine Huldie - I was just asked today again by Emma if she will be able to take the school bus next year in Kindergarten. She seems to be honestly excited and thrilled to be able to get to do this and not have to have me drive her anymore. I, on the other hand, am an emotional mess just thinking about this, let alone the fact that she will have a full day, too. I seriously am so glad I have one more year before this. But so glad this did work out so well for you and might need your ear next year when it is my turn for letting her go on the school bus.September 12, 2013 – 10:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - Janine,
    Feel free to borrow my ear anytime. Tucker LOVES the bus!September 12, 2013 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Awwww this is wonderful Kristi! I smiled the whole way through. I am so glad Tucker’s experience with riding the bus has been wonderful and you have peace of mind. Go Tucker!

    Christopher has been riding the bus since he was 6. I felt guilty because the school is so close. Like 2 miles if that. His bus comes at 6:30 and school doesn’t start until 7:15. But it is actually safer. There’s no light leaving our neighborhood and I’d have to make a left turn. Foggy, or rainy mornings just make the conditions even worse to get across 4 lanes. Something happened last year that I wanted to get on the bus and give a little boy a piece of my mind. Of course I never would do that, but I was just about to take it to a “reporting” level when Christopher told me the boy had been “expended” and wouldn’t be riding the bus anymore.

    Love Tucker’s goodnight tonight. I am going to go check out your interview and then I am going night night myself.September 12, 2013 – 10:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - OK, I’m mad at you. I know when you wrote this post, and how you were even more “last minute” than I was, and yet it is somehow heartfelt, meaningful, and touching. If I didn’t love you so much…. I’d be totally jealous of your gift. 🙂 That was a great best memory of summer. I love hearing about the victories and special moments in your life.September 12, 2013 – 10:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I like that story. It was hard at times, but it works. Ya know? Like so many great things. It’s so hard for me to think about what sticks out in my mind this summer the most. I think about Scarlet’s fourth birthday party with the Alice in Wonderland theme and all six grandparents attending. I think about Des’ first birthday. I think about meeting three of my blogging friends in person. That was super sweet. There were photos. Just in case I can entice you up here ever.September 12, 2013 – 11:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Mytwicebakedpotato - I absolutely loved this essay!!!
    Tears streamed down my face and I could relate to the desire to protect and have him close!
    Blessings to you and yours!September 13, 2013 – 12:36 amReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - It is hard to let go. But you are doing a remarkable job. p.s. I followed the bus to school the first time Lindsey rode it. So you are way ahead of me. 🙂September 13, 2013 – 5:05 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah - The short bus is the best! Seriously, I had the same reaction as you when we moved to this area that provides free bus transportation for special needs preschoolers with car seat, aide, etc. I knew there was no way my extremely anxious daughter would be interested in riding the bus. Plus, I wanted to be the one you dropped her off and picked her up everyday.
    Then, she pitched a fit every single day because she didn’t get to ride the bus with the other kids. I couldn’t believe it, but I relented, and we’ve all been happier since. She gets her bus fix, separation is so much easier when it doesn’t occur at school, and I get all this extra time that I don’t have to spend driving-waiting-driving.September 13, 2013 – 8:33 amReplyCancel

  • Keren - I went though the same thing with my daughter. Last year I drove her to and back to school (30 min each way) because I couldn’t imagine not bringing her to class, chatting with the teachers, seeing her lass mates. After they learned about different transportation modes in school and she became obsessed with buses and wanted to go on one, her teacher convinced me to put her on a bus for the summer session. I agreed to put her one-way coming back home, this way I can still bring her in. First day, when the bus was late 10 minutes because of trafuc, i almost lost it, hating my self for doing it. But she LOVED it so much that this year she is going both ways. Letting go a little, small steps.September 13, 2013 – 9:01 amReplyCancel

  • Considerer - Thank goodness for the short bus! Sounds like it’s been a summer of personal growth for all of you 🙂

    LOVED the dishwasher interview 🙂September 13, 2013 – 9:18 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Before I had kids, I was a teacher in one of those non-categorical preschool classrooms. I had kids with all kind of special needs – kids with hearing impairment, Down syndrome, undiagnosed autism, and non-specific behavioral challenges. I even had one with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I loved them all and did my best, but with such varied needs it was difficult to make sure everyone got the attention they deserved. When they left me, they were heading into kindergarten and I was the one who had to make the recommendations about what type of classroom would work best. At that time, I wasn’t a mom, so I didn’t see it from that side. Now I do and I know it’s tough. I think you made the right decisions for Tucker and you and I’m glad it turned out to be a positive part of your summer!September 13, 2013 – 9:46 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - And bonus, you don’t have to deal with idiots in the school parking lot that don’t follow the rules! So proud of you for letting go, a bit. Oh and that thing with the tape recorder? Freaking awesome.September 13, 2013 – 10:04 amReplyCancel

  • Lanaya | Raising Reagan - What a beautiful memory and so glad that it worked out for you and Tucker. I am going to be an emotional wreck when the time comes for Reagan to go off on her own and experience this.
    It makes me sad now thinking about the fact that she just turned three and is becoming more and more independent by the minute {I type this as she sneaks upstairs into my room to get “lips! Oh vey!}
    Still … we wish they could stay young and innocent forever.

    Have a fabulous weekend mommy!!

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    Raising-Reagan.comSeptember 13, 2013 – 11:16 amReplyCancel

  • Louise - This is truly a beautiful post and a wonderful memory. I got a bit teary with you while reading through your struggle to figure out what was best for Tucker and the rest of you.

    And so glad to hear that he loves the bus. My eldest (not quite 4 yet) started kindergarten this year and is bussing. We’ve had some tears – but I think that’s more about change than the bus – which she seems to like. Going to watch and see if things sort out in the next week or so. Hard to watch them grow and figure out the right balance between protecting them and giving them the gentle and appropriately timed pushes to help them grow.

    Again – loved this post.September 13, 2013 – 12:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - This is so wonderful. I am glad you have all of this help available to you and Tucker. He is so adorable! And I am so glad he loves the bus. 🙂September 13, 2013 – 1:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Bianca @ Track Pants and a Tot - How sweet! I love that the bus saved both yours & your son’s summer. 🙂September 13, 2013 – 2:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - I love this, Kristi. It is amazing all the resources available to help kids and parents, and I can understand your hesitation about using them. I felt the same way about my daughter going on the bus for the first time. But as you wrote, you are teaching your son such powerful lessons in being independent. I am so glad that the preschool is working well for you all. Such a heartwarming post!September 13, 2013 – 5:42 pmReplyCancel

  • clark - once again you hit the nail on the head… it’s the heart that shows the important thing, not (necessarily) the volume of the good times or the number of participants joining and sharing, but what connects you to what makes makes you you…

    I like reading your PostsSeptember 13, 2013 – 7:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Tina Morley - That was an awesome post. I’m so glad he loved the bus after the first time. I’m glad his PAC classes are a big help to him. I noticed your ending off said that this was the “if I had a magic wand” sentence to finish. I think you might have copied and pasted that from last week by mistake. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment!September 13, 2013 – 7:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Lori Lavender Luz - How much do I love that you said this? “(tucking tuckered-out Tucker)

    What big emotions that day, putting him on the bus for the first time. And what big emotions that it has been such a plus for you both.

    And for your blog readers!September 13, 2013 – 8:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Oh Kristi, I loved this lastminute post. You’re my hero, even more than before, I can’t do lastminute posts like this. I’ve identified with every word, of course, because once again I feel that we’ve written about very similar things. Your short bus is my goodbye at the school gate except it’s a bus. You’re a hero. I am so glad you did this for Tucker, the blog, you. <3September 13, 2013 – 9:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - Your blog did Big Goodthings for you and Tucker, and it’s done Big Goodthings for all of us too. If you ever for a second think you are not good at this mothering gig, let me know and I will shake some sense into you. You’re pretty good at the blogging gig too. Your job, I don’t know – but I bet you rock there too.September 13, 2013 – 9:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - I love this post! Two of my kids have gone to a special preschool program and I remember when my first child went I had all of the same feelings and then, just like you found myself thrilled with the program. Since my youngest was only a few months old when our daughter started going he just felt like the school was a second home so when it came time to find a program for him it was a no brainer. I always drove Lizzy, and Peter. But when Peter was in his last year of preschool his schedule was such that my now two grade schoolers were coming home the same time, so I needed to have the bus bring him home each day. To say that Peter loved the bus would be an understatement. He had a ball!! And I grew to love the non-crazy juggling! Now all three of my babies are in school full time and for the first time in my life all three take a bus to school both ways. Not bad at all!! Lol! So glad your sweetie had a great summer! And, thank you so much for sharing your talents with my readers! Even my possessed dishwasher is thrilled! xoSeptember 14, 2013 – 4:37 amReplyCancel

  • karen - OH MY GOD…you always make me cry woman. It’s so hard to accept they are growing up and letting them leave…let alone try something that might fail. But you did it and Tucker loved it. way to go for all of you. I think you rock woman.September 14, 2013 – 5:32 amReplyCancel

  • Rasma Raisters - Tucker is one adorable little boy. Glad it’s all working out for you. Delightful post. Thanks for sharing. Would like to hear more Tucker adventures. September 14, 2013 – 6:52 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah Almond - Sometimes we just have to let go to make it easier for us! I’m glad that you have the services available and are able to make them work for you to make your life easier! 🙂September 14, 2013 – 11:27 amReplyCancel

  • Hilary Rick Grossman - Awesome post – visiting from Kathy Radigan site..I can’t even imagine how your heart must have swelled with pride and joy when you saw his face every day….September 14, 2013 – 11:58 amReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I just love posts about letting go, because I find it SO HARD myself! I’m SO glad that it WORKED! Yay! And every. single. picture of Tucker is so adorable. I almost can’t stand it.September 14, 2013 – 10:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Mama Doesn't Need New Shoes - Here I am, crying again. Happy tears, though, because this post really touched a nerve. About fostering independence within DS. “It took superhuman strength to not get in my car and follow that bus to school.” THIS. God help me when it’stime for preschool. I may need a pep talk from you. You’ve been warned…September 15, 2013 – 4:43 amReplyCancel

  • The Monko - i haven’t discovered your blog before so I am so glad you linked to the Sunday Parenting Party. I loved reading your post. letting go is so hard at the best of times, I don’t know that I’d be ready to let my son travel alone on a school bus yet – its kinda scary. I’m glad you have that available to you though and its allowed you some freedom and Tucker some freedom too. Great post, I’m sharing it on the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest boardSeptember 15, 2013 – 8:31 amReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - You must live in an awesome area because you have so many resources! How blessed is that.
    It’s great that he liked the bus because that would have been seriously traumatic for him and you. Dropping my kid off at school is traumatic!
    Favourite thing this summer? Going to Niagra Falls via free sponsored trip. BoomSeptember 15, 2013 – 7:11 pmReplyCancel

  • SocialButterflyMom - Taking the bus is a big deal! Not sure if I’m more proud of mama or son 😉September 16, 2013 – 8:18 amReplyCancel

  • Alyson Rennick Herzig - It is hard giving up that control, that certainty that things are ok and done right, but it is a necessary step in our children’s lives. Kudos for finding the strength and for having a little guy that finds the joy in his new found ability too. September 17, 2013 – 3:16 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa Nolan - Loved your post! I honestly can’t remember how I felt when my son first took the short bus at age 4.5 now that he’s nine! But at that time in my life I needed the extra help. For third grade (at his new school and new class) I said no to the short bus, we’ve walked to school for the past three years, why stop now! Plus, I REALLY need the exercise! (We have two local schools that are within walking distance, yada, yada.)September 17, 2013 – 6:47 amReplyCancel

  • Robbie - Very glad to hear that the short bus was a wonderful experience for you both. It’s never easy to give our kids a little space but it sounds like he is thriving on and off the bus.September 17, 2013 – 10:21 amReplyCancel

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