COLUMN: And there goes the big yellow bus

This is my Sunday column for the Sept. 2, 2012 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. A version of this piece aired on KAXE’s “Between You and Me” a week ago.

And there goes the big yellow bus
By Aaron J. Brown

In a couple days all three of our boys will get on the school bus and ride off somewhere, presumably school, for an entire day, and the next, and the next, and they will return to us some version of what they will become in the future.

Every parent goes through something like this, but it’s a double whammy for us. Our youngest boys are twins. Their older brother is only two years older than them. We’ve been in the center of an intense, dull roar for just long enough to get used to it. Now we face the frightening prospect of a quiet house.

I work from home half time and Christina runs a home based business, so the lines between work and home are not lines so much as ingredients in a life soup that’s been simmering for half a decade. Friends from our past call or visit and we stare at them, like living snapshots, tell them we are fine because we are, or think we are. No, we have not seen any concerts or plays but we keep meaning to. We hope to. We plan to. And maybe we will, but we haven’t.

We relate to other parents, but they live in town and who has time for all that extra driving. Inviting people out makes the townies feel like they’re driving out to the Overlook from “The Shining.” Driving into town means having to leave early and dodge deer. We’ll deal with this when the kids know how to cook their own food. Without burning the house down. OK, so it could be awhile.

There were so many glue sticks in the house just now. Thirty-six? Maybe more. They were delivered to the school last week because glue sticks are required. We’ve dressed up the pencil boxes and the new kindergartners have their resting rugs ready to go. But are we ready?

My grandparents have run a school bus business on the Iron Range for most of my life. There is, thus, no magic in the image of a school bus for me. They are large, yellow bounce houses whose primary safety feature is being large, yellow and capable of destroying anything they happen to run into. The drivers have special licenses and spend more time with children than some of the educators at school, all while turning left at rush hour. The good ones avoid the mailboxes and maybe only hit one or two dogs during a career.

When I was a kid I lived a long way from school and today I still do. The bus was my bumpy study, my long cold think. Today it is where I send my boys. These mustard-colored haulers carry away childhood, unloading into ships headed for the future. We knew this day was coming and hold no illusions about the passage of time. The bus sweeps across the land, making stops but never stopping.

Listen for the engines. Another generation is on its way to school.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from the Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts 91.7 KAXE’s Great Northern Radio Show on public stations.

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