This morning was the last trip to school for my kindergartner in his three-wheeled runner-powered yellow school bus. I pushed him the half-mile to school nearly every weekday this year, through sun, sleet, rain, and snow. He’s a kid who knows what he likes, and over the hundreds of days we did this run together a very specific routine evolved. He liked quiet rather than chatter. He liked the rain bubble on, no matter what the weather, even as summer heat started coming on. He liked to stick a few fingers out to exchange “tips” from me as we went. He liked to get situated before we left the building, in the hallway, rather than waiting till I got the stroller outside, so after stowing his backpack underneath, I’d strap him in then pull on the bubble.
Every morning he loved to remind me to pull down the side straps of the bubble so he was fully enclosed. Then I’d push out the doors and work our wheels down the front stairway and we’d hit the sidewalk running. There were some rough trips when he or I or the both of us were frazzled or grumpy or straight-out pissed about something that went awry with the morning routine, but almost always the mood had passed or at least softened by the time we rolled up to the school. Usually, though, the trip was just plain peaceful and fun. We could make the trip in five minutes if we timed all the street crossings just right. We passed three wildly busy construction sites every day, diverting around concrete pumpers, excavators, and flatbeds unloading stacks of drywall and huge bunches of re-bar, exchanging hellos with a few of they guys who got used to seeing us roll by.
I saw a lot of the same people every morning, including a young doorman who loved to cheer us on from the front of his building until the day came when there was an old guy in his place who always seemed to be smoking a butt and never noticed us. There was an endless parade of Williamsburg beauties, heading to the subway as we ran by. One in particular had a thing for dark lipstick, sunglasses, and never smiling or even glancing at us even though we passed within inches of each other almost every morning.
I never saw any other parents running their kid to school, but as we arrived we did see them using every other form of wheeled conveyance imaginable to make the journey—scooters, bikes with homemade kid seats, cars, taxis, and just plain walking.
After dropping my son off, I often took the long way home to make it a three- or four-mile loop, just another bus driver heading back to the depot for the next run.