I put my son on the school bus for the first time today. He was anxiously awaiting bus #108, circling the corner where the sidewalks meet and jumping back-and-forth. He was tempted to step on the sewer grate and throw in little pebbles he deemed “ineffective”, but we would pull him back and remind him not to go in the road.
The bus pulled up and my son’s first instinct was to run across the street to meet it and jump right on, since there was no “red light” telling him not to cross. Motherly instinct caused my hands to pull him back before I even realized what I was doing. I bent down and pointed to the red stop sign on the side of the bus that had yet to fold out and light up.
“Buddy, see that red sign?” I said in a calm voice, despite my racing heart. “Watch, it’s going to pop out and start blinking. That means everyone has to wait until the bus driver tells you that you can cross.”
In the 10 minutes we waited on the corner for the bus this morning, three doors down from our house, not one car passed. These are the same quiet streets where he learned to ride his bike, right in the middle of road, and where the only people to pass are the occasional vigilant neighbors who are used to looking out for a 5-year-old with bright red hair. To him, the streets are empty and therefore safe.
We waited for the bus driver to give us the wave, we crossed together hand-in-hand, the bus driver asked him his name, I snapped the obligatory photo, and off they went. I half hoped that my little first grader would be waiting by the window in order to wave to me as he passed, but instead he was sitting with another little boy, making friends already.
The drive to work was strange without my talkative Bruceman in the backseat, requesting Queen or the Rolling Stones. I left the radio off and counted the school buses that passed and ended up behind one on a busy road. I stopped even before the red sign folded out and lit up from the side of the bus not only because it is the law, but also because all I could see was my little red head in a Lego bookbag anxious to start his first day of school and get on that bus.
As any parent knows, sometimes kids’ excitement clouds their judgement and rash decisions are made that can cause serious injuries. It is up to all of us on the roads to do out part to keep all kids – not only our own – safe this school season.
In the state of Ohio, drivers must stop at least ten feet from the front or rear of the school bus and shall not proceed until such school bus resumes motion, or until signaled by the school bus driver to proceed.
The bus I was behind took forever to put the sign out. The sun was so bright that you could hardly see the flashing red lights. Had I not been paying attention, I could have easily flown by that bus, like three cars ahead of me did. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if an eager kid anxious to start elementary school “like a big boy” would have darted out when they weren’t paying attention.
My son is excited to be in school. Please do your part to make sure he makes it there.
Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC