Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Eric Takes the Bus to School: As He Was Wheeled through the Front Door of His New School, He Turned and Looked in My Direction and Gave Me a Huge Smile. It Was His Way Telling Me, Mom I Know You're Here, Love You and Don't Worry So Much!

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Eric Takes the Bus to School: As He Was Wheeled through the Front Door of His New School, He Turned and Looked in My Direction and Gave Me a Huge Smile. It Was His Way Telling Me, Mom I Know You're Here, Love You and Don't Worry So Much!

Article excerpt

The month of September always makes me think about back-to-school shopping and, immediately, the sound of Andy Williams singing his popular Christmas song, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," starts playing in my head. A vision of the popular commercial comes to mind with parents frolicking happily as they shop for back-to-school supplies and their children lag behind looking terribly sad. Seeing that commercial has become my signal that another summer is coming to an end.

I remember the year Eric had his first bus ride to school like it was yesterday. I could hardly sleep the night before, as I played over the many details that were covered during the summer, preparing Eric to attend a new school. His outfit was carefully planned, his backpack was filled with every possible item he would need and his medications were already stocked at the school nurse's office. Did I think of everything? Was there something I forgot? I was excited and petrified at the same time. Eric required tender loving care each day and I worried about him leaving the comfort of his familiar on-site school. Eric's team convinced me he was ready for a more traditional school experience and although I knew this to be true, it also meant getting on the school bus! Like Eric, all the children on this school bus would be in wheelchairs and we had this problem of the loud squeaky sound of the wheelchair lift on the bus. Eric hated this noise and would have quite the tempertantrum, long after the sound disappeared. This to me was no ordinary dilemma!

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Now, don't think I didn't ponder driving Eric to and from school to avoid the bus altogether, but the reality of a fulltime work schedule prevented that plan from ever hatching. We needed to minimize Eric's exposure to the chair lift noise and we devised a plan that Eric would be the last child getting on the bus, making him the first to exit! Eric would wait away from all the noise until it was his turn to get on the bus. We had hoped over time Eric would just become more tolerant of the terrible noise and as long as we kept to the plan of last one on first off, we felt pretty good as a team we had a strategy that would result in success. But I tossed and turned the entire night before his first day of school and then it came to me, there was only thing left that I could do--I would just follow the bus each day until Eric was comfortable handling his seven-minute ride from the children's hospital to school! Even with such a fabulous plan, I was still Sleepless in Albany!

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

JUST BEING ERIC'S MOM

I'm certain now that I was not the first mom to come up with such a plan. But, at the time, I thought I was pretty clever as I parked my car in the perfect spot to easily dash to after Eric was safely on board his school bus. I ran in to meet Eric and he looked fresh as a daisy and happily watched his favorite cartoon as I checked his backpack one more time. Before it was Eric's turn to join the other children on the school bus, Eric's nurse and I, with the expertise of a pit crew at a speedway, made a few more adjustments. We removed his shoes, added long extra thick tube socks and placed his protective shin splits on, decided to leave his shoes off and made sure his custom-made foot pillow on his wheelchair was tightly secured. For an extra measure of safety we added a special foam pad to his nose. We both gave each other a triumphant high-five convinced he was now properly ready for his bus ride! Poor Eric looked more like he was going into battle, than getting on to a school bus and the look the bus driver shot both of us, was clearly a sign that we may have over done it, just a bit! …

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