MANHATTAN, Kan. — After a few months of all that summer on the farm entails, the kids have returned to school.
From helping with wheat harvest, hauling meals and equipment out to fields, taking naps in the car while helping me complete parts runs, sweeping shop floors, assisting with irrigation duties and making popcorn deliveries, it’s safe to say my kids experienced a healthy dose of farm-kid living during their summer break.
Secretly, my husband and I conspired and we now fully admit that some of the summer tasks were created to encourage our kids to say, “Man, I can’t wait to get back to school!”
This school year, our family has entered a new phase. No longer am I shuttling kids to and from school on a daily basis because both are old enough to ride the school bus.
It’s been the topic of many conversations throughout the summer. The excitement of the idea of riding a bus to and from school is something both my children have really built up over the last few months. In fact, as we have approached the start of a new school year, it wasn’t the promise of wearing new clothes, meeting new teachers, making new friends or getting to enjoy a school pizza lunch with their buddies that truly excited my kids.
What has motivated my two children every morning has been the countdown to the first day they could ride the big, yellow bus.
A week before the first bus ride, we decided everyone needed to get back into the morning school routine. We agreed everyone would need to get out of bed earlier. Everyone would need to be dressed and at the breakfast table by a specific time. And everyone would need to head out the door to ensure the bus would make a stop for the Baldwin children.
Oddly, the plans to return to a morning routine were well received by both children. The excitement surrounding the school bus led to both children waking up way before they needed to every morning. They were fully dressed and at the table with plenty of time to spare. They wanted to make sure they practiced the morning routine because they wanted to get on that big, yellow bus.
Finally, the big day arrived. The children were awake, dressed, fed and excitedly waiting at the end of our driveway for their chariot. They waved as trucks drove past. They stood in silence to listen for the bus. And finally, after offering assurances that the bus had not forgotten our stop, the big yellow bus arrived.
Following the first day, my son realized they would travel many miles of bumpy dirt roads. His overwhelming excitement of sitting in the back of the bus was momentarily quelled that first day thanks to his tendency to get car sick. Apparently all those bumpy rural roads make for a pretty uneasy ride if you sit in the way back of the bus.
However, after making a seating adjustment, my two agree that you can still enjoy a bus ride even if you sit closer to the driver.
While my two children are not the first on or the last off the bus, they’re pretty darn close to it. Our small school district only has a few busses running the country routes. My kids ride a bus that traverses the far boundaries of the west, north and northeast parts of the school district.
Catching the bus in the morning means heading out the door almost 40 minus earlier than when I would chauffeur my passengers last year. It also means you get home later.
As we continue our morning routines and the newness of a new school year begins to fade, it is my hope that my two will continue to look forward to going to school every morning – even if it’s mainly because they get to traverse the bumpy rural dirt roads on a big yellow bus.
— Kim Baldwin, McPherson County farmer, Kansas Farm Bureau
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