I can't remember a time when I didn't want to go to school.
I heard it before I saw it, but I didn’t know what it was. Its large engine revved as it geared down to stop at the bottom of the hill. Then, there it was at the corner by my house. I saw it in all its glory: a big, yellow school bus. It might as well have been the ice-cream truck for all the awe it inspired in this four-year-old girl. I knew the older kids went to school, and their bus stop was there at the corner, but I had never actually seen it before.
Now I was suddenly confronted with its bigness, its yellowness, and its meaningfulness. This huge bus was the key to getting to school. I stood stock-still for a moment, pondering this magical capability. I would only need to catch this bus to get to school.
The oversize engine started up again and the vehicle turned the corner, heading away from our cul-de-sac. I dropped the toy I’d been playing with. I didn’t have any more time to think—I needed to follow that bus! I ran and ran as fast as I could, waving to the kids looking out at me from the back seat. They waved back, laughing and encouraging me.
I hadn’t gotten very far, though, when I realized what I’d forgotten: all school kids need a lunch! I’d seen the older kids waving their pails, their brown bags around on their way out in the mornings. How could I go to school now, without one? I turned around and ran back to the house, sweating and worried that the bus might get away while my back was turned.
“Mom! Mom! Come quick!” I yelled all the way from the front door to the kitchen, where she was spooning banana into my baby brother’s mouth.
The spoon fell from her hand with a clatter as she rushed over to me, taking in my erratic and disheveled look. “What’s wrong, Lisa?” She asked, already looking me over for blood and feeling my limbs for broken bones. “What happened?”
It took a few tries to make myself understood. I was too excited to speak, too tongue-tied to make sense. When my mom finally figured out what I needed and why, she laughed. I didn’t understand. Why would she laugh? Obviously this was of utmost importance!
“Mom, hurry! The bus is getting away!” I jumped up and down and tugged on her clothes.
“Aw, honey, the bus is probably long gone by now.” She reached around and hugged me tight.
“But then how will I get to school?” I cried.
“You can’t go to school until you’re old enough. You can go to school when you’re five. You’re only four now, next year you’ll be five.
I started to cry, there, in her arms. I had been so close to catching that bus... if only I’d been faster, had had that packed lunch. The future seemed too far away, and I was just itching to get to go to school.
My mom just hugged me and held me, her heart breaking. It wasn’t the first time she’d had to tell me I was too young for school. I’d been begging to go since I was three. She didn’t want to disappoint me any longer. And yet she had no idea how hard it would be to tell me, when I woke up on my fifth birthday in April that I still couldn’t go to school for another five months.
When the day finally came that I was allowed to go to school—my first day of kindergarten—my mom actually wanted to drive me. That was okay and all, but the best part of starting school, the most victorious part of finally being five (and a half), was the second day of school when I actually got to ride the school bus. It was the fulfillment of a nearly lifelong dream.