Of Buses and Banality

“It’s hell being alone.”
“No honey, hell is other people.”

~ Puccini for Beginners

“I can’t keep doing this on my own with these… people.”

~ There Will Be Blood

I don’t generally blog at night. I also don’t generally blog from bed.

Bed + Night = Zzzzzz.

But here I am, blogging at night, in bed.

Note to self: Don’t take any more afternoon naps on your day off.

*****

I’m thinking about my daughter. She’s been asking about my work schedule lately. Wondering what mornings I have off so I’ll be home. So I can drive her to school.

She gets rides occasionally. There are mornings when just the right socks can’t be found, or her purse goes missing, and she misses the bus. So we find what’s gone missing and head out. No big deal, really; time spent with her or any of the other kids is special time, especially now that they are getting older and finding me more and more irrelevant with each passing day. Mornings like that are an opportunity to reconnect, if only for a few short miles.

But now she’s come out and said it . . .

Riding the bus is disconcerting.

She’s not a terribly social child. Not like my youngest daughter, whose all-go-no-quit social escapades tire me out. And she’s only nine. No, my middle-schooler is rather tentative is most social situations. She’s just not sure of herself when events are beyond her control. She hates most loud noises, and the boys who make them. And idle chatter, when not amongst her close-knit group of friends, is not something she’s even remotely interested in.

So bus rides pretty much suck.

And I can relate. While I used to be quite the entertainer in most social situations, more than able to hold my own and come out clean, I now find most group situations either loathsome or ridiculously boring. I can still fake it easily enough, for this is the most subtle of skills us adults learn to master. But she refuses to go there. So she crawls inside her cocoon every morning and emerges completely drained. My wife and I have struggled throughout this school year, trying to get a handle on why her grades have slipped. Why she seems so detached. So willing to detach. And now it’s starting to make sense.

I could give her – once again – the speech about how life is often shitty. How people and situations don’t always live up to our expectations. And how so much of what others think is important is often, in the grand scheme of things, nothing but chaff in the wind. The deal with it speech. And there is a time for such speeches, peppered with a dose of live and let live exhortation. But I am inclined to let her slide on this one. To simply allow her the freedom to decline. To come to me with her problems and not hear yet another banal platitude.

So I best wrap this up. School comes mighty early . . .

[Flickr photo is by Flowery *L*u*z*a* and is protected]

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13 thoughts on “Of Buses and Banality

  1. Ah, painful. I’m sorry about your little girl. This may seem off the wall, but have you thought about checking her ears for sensitivity? If she were to listen to some calm something-something on an iPod and drown out the sharp noises on the bus, maybe it’d give her some relief?

    Luck,

    Casey

  2. I can relate, as well. I faked it for a long time (schools and buses, parties and everything else), until I got old enough not to care. It helped when I got my license and didn’t depend on others (or their forced company)anymore. Performing all the time was exhausting; cheers to her for just not doing that to get by, and cheers to you for not making her.

  3. I’d have to agree to the suggestion of music. At least to make the days when you can’t take her more bearable. I used to have a 45 minute ride (just one way) every day to school with lots of screaming kids down gravel roads that were bumpy and dusty. I found that the combination of a discman (because iPODS weren’t nearly as prevalent 6-10 years ago when I had to ride the bus lol) and a good book made that 45 minutes fly by. It made life a whole lot easier especially when I had to sit next to some stinky teenage boy who hadn’t showered for a week. *shudder*

  4. Yup, Im with the ipod brigade. Just make sure she has it at sufficient volume to allow her to still be aware of what’s going on around her. Kids can be so cruel.

    You just want to keep them safe forever but they do have to learn to face up to these things… or acquire the skills to avoid them.

    And we can’t do either of those things for them x

  5. I never rode a bus, so I can’t relate to that part of the story. However, idle chit-chat makes me crazy. Sounds like she’s her own person though, not “performing” so that others will like her. Good on her!

  6. Sometimes listening is the best medicine. We haven’t reached the school bus stage yet. But, we have gotten the days were our daughter doesn’t want to go to school. It’s a tough spot for parents.

  7. It seems true to me that girls especially mostly want validation and hardly ever want an effective solution to a problem, that as parents, we are so eager to solve.

    It is a blurry line, I find!

    Parenting is bittersweet.

  8. I never had to ride the bus, nor have any my kids, so I can’t really relate there, but I DO know where she’s coming from regarding idle chit-chat. I loathe trying to keep up a conversation with people I only see at certain events (like soccer games and such). I’ve gotten so I bring a magazine to read during the slow times and no one bothers me. I don’t know if reading material would work for a teen though. She probably should try the iPod approach like so many have suggested above.

  9. God, I hated riding the bus to school. It was just like the torture of the school social hierarchy in a can. One of my regular prayers is that my boys miss out on my social awkwardness…

  10. I guess I’m the only one that has good memories of the bus.

    I think it’s good of you to just listen. I got sick of those kinds of lectures as a kid. It just seemed so predictable. No new wisdom. It would have been refreshing for my feelings to be validated and told they were actually important.

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