When I was a kid, I distinctly remember being nervous whenever I stepped outside in the morning to do my chores. We didn’t live on a farm or anything like that–just a 3/4 acre plot with a house and a large shed. We had some rabbits, chickens, and dogs, and us kids were expected to do “morning chores” sometime after breakfast but before school.
I wasn’t nervous because the chores were hard. I was nervous because this was the time of day when the school bus rumbled by our house, stopping at the end of the street to gather the children who rode it to school every morning.
I distinctly remember Mom and Dad telling us to try to get out of sight if the bus was coming down the road when we were doing chores. Why? Were we doing something wrong? Were we actually members of a cult? This seemed like a cult-like thing to do! Was the school bus driver a bad person?
No. None of those things.
Mom and Dad just didn’t want the bus driver, or any neighbors who didn’t know us well, to think we were truant.
You see, this was back in the early-mid 90s. Homeschooling was legal then, but people as a whole viewed it with suspicion at the very least, and hostility more often than not. It was not normal to homeschool, and we were the only people in our neighborhood who did, as far as I knew.
So, whenever I heard the school bus, I stepped out of sight, just in case… At some point, I was old enough to have heard the horror stories of homeschooled children being taken away from their parents, even though homeschooling was legal now. Whatever problems I had with my parents as a child, I loved them and was terrified at the thought that there were people in my town who might call CPS if they saw us.
That was then.
This is now.
Flash-forward to the 20-teens and my kids love the school bus. L. O. V. E. Love. Patrick, especially. He runs to the window and peers out on his tiptoes shouting “Bus! Bus!” He laughs as our dog, Buffy, runs up in the front yard to bark as the bus backs down in front of our house to turn around and go back out.
I have yet to meet a person who responds with hostility when I answer, “Oh, no, we homeschool,” to the question about if my kids go to school. They’re still young, and I know people, in general, get more and more skeptical about homeschooling as the kids get older, but, hey… I’ll take what I can get.
These days, homeschooling is common enough that I don’t worry about the school bus driver seeing my kids if they happen to be outside when he’s coming or going. If anybody on the bus asks why “those kids” aren’t getting on the bus, I’m sure our neighbors say, “Oh, they homeschool,” and that’s that.
Homeschooling is far from ubiquitous, even in Oklahoma, but I’m thankful that it has, by and large, grown more accepted.
I’m thankful my kids don’t have to be afraid of the school bus.