Bridget has always attained her milestones at a different pace than her peers. There are some milestones I never thought would happen. Some of them I was misinformed by others that she would not be able to do. As Bridget continues to defy anyone dares to put limits on her, and this week she broke through one more “she would never”.
I remember the first day I dropped her off at Kindergarten. I was so worried, oh so worried, that Bridget would not be able to keep up with her classmates. That they would not accept her, that not only would she not be able to keep up but she would be run over.
I remember sitting in her IEP meeting last year and mentioning a dream of Bridget riding the bus. The real bus. I thought her team was going to choke on their water. They expressed concerns, rightful ones, about physical safety. Could Bridget physically navigate the bus stairs? Could Bridget get onto the bus seat? Could she be trusted to sit and not leave her seat?
I asked, can’t she be taught? It might not have been their intent, I might have misinterpreted their (and her father’s) concerns. I looked at this as a challenge that Bridget could overcome. She tries to get on the “big yellow bus” on the days she walks her older sister to the bus. Bridget get so excited when she sees a bus. She would ask almost every day on the way to school if she could take the bus like her sister.
The answer was always no.
Bridget worked hard all summer. Her physical therapists at Spaulding Rehab for Children recreated the bus step, walking up the steps holding onto a railing. They put a seat up to bus level and using a backpack practiced getting up on the seat. They told us she was ready, that PT had officially cleared her to take the bus.
Her SPED Teacher at school asked a bus driver to let Bridget practice one morning to see if she could navigate the real thing. It turned out the set up Spaulding created was much more difficult. They set Bridget up for success!
Now I just had to convince her dad and the school it was a good idea. I knew there would be challenges, but I knew together we could figure this out.
I told her dad, all excited. He was a
lot bit more hesitant than my reaction. Where I was overjoyed, so freaking happy our daughter was once again doing something no one else thought she could do, he went into dad on alert mode. Would she be bullied, what if she got off at the wrong stop, what if she didn’t go into the school but explored the woods.
I am sure he was not alone in those thoughts. I am sure everyone who heard of my plan to allow my girl to ride the big yellow bus thought I was taking a foolish chance. I had an answer for every one of them: She will sit behind the bus driver, the bus driver will know her spot, Mr. D will keep eyes on her between the bus and the front door of the school. Most importantly I got her an ID band with her name and our phone numbers in the event any of the above safety measures failed. A bracelet she cannot get off without assistance.
I also renewed her LoJack.
I am hopeful but I am also a planner. For the past year Bridget has been walking with her friends (no teacher) from the extended day program to her classroom. She has been taking walks in the woods with her sister. She has been exploring our world a little at a time. Gaining independence and learning how to navigate the world.
I also had an epiphany. When her sister took the bus for the first time, I had the same fears, those questions everyone has asked me since the day I said Bridget could learn how to ride the big yellow bus. I just never thought of LoJack for my oldest. How weird was it that with all of Bridget’s issues this is one thing where she would surpass how I parented her sister?
Unlike with her sister, I had no fear today. Today I only had the biggest smile in my heart when I saw this face: