Dear Cheltenham Elementary Bus Driver

Dear Cheltenham Elementary Bus Driver,

It has been brought to my attention that you disapprove of my child getting off the bus by himself.  It appears that you called his mother to inquire about the circumstances surrounding this and asked “Why isn’t anyone waiting at the stop?” and “Who is in the house waiting for him?”

I’ll start by saying that neither one of those is any of your fucking business.

I understand that your inquiry may feel good to you as an attempt to consider my child’s safety, but I assure you that is false. I will remind you that the proper forms have long since been submitted (forms offered by the elementary school itself) in order for the child in question to be released from your bus without parental guidance present. There are after all, five homes and no streets between the bus stop and our front door (also not really your fucking business).

What is more dangerous, I believe, than a first grader walking fifty feet to his front door alone in the middle of the day, is the fierce aversion to independence forced onto children by overzealous adults such as yourself. I remember listening to the Invisibilia podcast not long ago as part of a school assignment; the episode was about a blind man (whom they called Batman) that had developed an unprecedented amount of independence because his parents let him run around with other kids and climb things and touch things and do things on his own. And have failures, and get hurt. He developed a sort of echo location close to sight. The absence of coddling saved him, and now he is on a mission to help other blind children become full people before they are hugged to death–and therefore crippled–by their parents.

You like your children be blind or free ma’am?

My child can see, though I fear him going blind beneath a veil of excessive comforts, participation medals and large bandaids with globs of Neosporin for capillary bleeding. While I’m not suggesting we all rub dirt on that shit,  drink water and drive on, I am suggesting that you relinquish yourself from deciding for me or my child.

I am constantly reminded that adults like yourself exist, when confronted with the remnants of thrice hugged children.

In institutions of higher learning, many young leaders of tomorrow cannot read a map, cannot use public transportation, cannot buy or prepare their own food, cannot read or write to a reasonable extent. Cannot meaningfully contribute to society in any way because they may never be whole people, because they’ve known at least a few adults like you. Who, may have wiped their doo doo till they were ten? Sometimes, I’m surprised that more of them aren’t passing out on the grass out front, forgetting to breathe. I want to hold their hands at times when I cross City Avenue.

I want to tell them, to tell you, that nothing is going to be okay unless you learn to make it okay. That growth does not happen in the absence of struggle or pain. That my biggest fear is this little clone sitting in front of me drawing pictures of aliens–that he ensures me actually exist–will be waiting for me to hold his hand across the street in ten years, instead of actively seeking to assist those who need much more.

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