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How to unleash your suburban child on public transportation

1. Realize your child needs to be at a certain place multiple times for many days in a row. Driving the child is either not possible or not on your list of awesome ways to spend 80 minutes each day.

2. What about those large, shoebox-shaped vehicles with ads for musicals lumbering along in far right lanes of major streets? The bus! They stop at benches set up along sidewalks every few blocks, including where your child needs to go.

3. Obsess over the idea. Look up routes and times, fares. Picture your child standing alone at the corner of Cigarette Butt Boulevard and Shattered Liquor Bottle Lane.

4. Your child has a smartphone and can kick like an enraged zebra.

5. Your child is also leaving home eventually and being comfortable with public transportation is one of those Grand Life Skills like pre-treating stains and filling out W-2s.

6. Tell the child your plan. Watch eyes widen to 10 centimeters in an instant, instead of in 22 long, arduous hours. Yep, kid.

7. Still, you suspect your little bus jockey is secretly excited because you find yourself not making a case for it.

8. You seem to be more freaked out by it than they are. Visit the public transportation’s websites multiple times to make sure times and routes haven’t suddenly changed. What if you tell your child to get on the 84, but overnight they change the 84 to the bus that goes to the airport and the next thing you know—through a chain of impossible coincidences and inexcusable human errors that will become internet comment section fodder for an entire news cycle—are forced aboard a flight to Milwaukee. On Spirit Airlines.

9. In the days leading up to the inaugural bus trip, be hyper-aware of all busses, bus stops, and bus passengers.

10. The big day arrives! Crazily rattle off everything you remember from riding busses in your youth. There’s a buzzer button thingie you push if your stop is coming up and it’s not a scheduled stop and you want the driver to stop and and and PUSH IT like a block BEFORE your stop but not too late and not too early because then you’ll be dropped off short or overshoot. SIT NEAR THE DRIVER. Have fun!



11. Let us know when you leave. Let us know when you arrive. Try the beer-cheese soup in Wisconsin. Best in the world!

12. When it all goes smoothly, tell yourself you knew it would all along. It’s just a bus, a bread box on wheels that really, really wants you to go see “Wicked.” Note your kid embraced it in spite having a hand-wringer for a mom. What a good kid.

3 comments to How to unleash your suburban child on public transportation

  • I totally relate to this – I think sometimes it’s the most difficult or us to let go, things like this can be a grand adventure and imagine the cultural experiences they can have on a bus! 🙂

    • Gretchen

      Next thing you know, they are taking selfies on the roof of Big Ben or something, right? I want my kids to have adventures and it has to start somewhere! Ironically, this kid has been on subways in NYC and Chicago and has flown to both coasts. Been on a cruise. Slept on the deck of a boat going to Catalina. But the bus?! See how silly I am?

  • Amy

    This makes me wish there was a bus stop close to my house so I could send my boy on an adventure.

    “The corner of Cigarette Butt Boulevard and Shattered Liquor Bottle Lane.” This cracked me up! I can picture countless street corners in both Denver and Nashville that would deserve that nickname.

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