By Jeannie Yee Davis
“Please, daddy, let me take the school bus by myself,” the young girl begged. “I can do it. I know I can.”
“I don’t know, Peggy,” her father said.
“You let Becky go to school by herself every day. She doesn’t need you to take her.” It was the first day of kindergarten. Peggy wanted to prove she could do what her ten-year-old sister could do. The slender child with blond pigtails and bangs wanted to be accepted by her older sister. She wanted her sister to see that she wasn’t a baby anymore and was able to do things on her own just like she does.
“Now sweet pea, are you sure you are ready to do this?” he asked.
“Yes, daddy, I know I can” came her response. Goosebumps formed on her forearms as she said this. She crinkled her nose deep in thought for a moment remembering how much she wanted to be accepted by Becky. “Yes, I’m sure,” she said, as she stood taller.
“Okay then, Peggy, you can take the bus to kindergarten. I’ll wait for you at the school, okay?” said her daddy who was squatting down to meet her. She nodded in agreement while she played with his well-kept beard just as the bus came around the corner.
The orange school bus was partially full with chattering kids. As soon as the bus driver opened the door, the kids filed on board. The driver hollered out while he adjusted his side mirror, “Come on board kids don’t dawdle now. We don’t have all day.” Then he turned and saw Peggy standing there looking at him.
“Well, hello there little lady,” said the bus driver with the thick salt and pepper mustache that hid his upper lip. He wore a green baseball cap pulled down just above his eyebrows bushy like his mustache. His cheeks jiggled with every chomp of his gum.
“Hi, Mr. Bus Driver,” said Peggy.
“Just call me Bob.”
“What’s your name, little lady?”
“My name is Peggy.”
“Peggy is a pretty name. I haven’t seen you on this bus before. Are you joining us today?”
“I’m going to kindergarten. Today is my first day.”
“Well, what do you know? Come on board and find yourself a seat.”
Peggy turned to her daddy and waved. Bob hollered out to him, “Don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll take good care of her.” Her father saluted him.
She got on the bus and found a seat at the third row by the window on the sidewalk side. She sat down then jumped up to wave at her daddy outside the window watching him waving back at her as the bus pulled away.
The youngster felt all grown up sitting in her bus seat. She wondered what Becky would say tonight when she hears how courageous her sister was today taking the school bus all by herself. She imagined Becky accepting her as a buddy. A smile formed on Peggy’s face the more she thought about this then the bus stopped and her smile fell off her face. Her heart began beating faster. “Are we there already? No! We can’t be there already?” She jumped up to look out the window for her daddy but he wasn’t there. There was no school either. There were only houses. To Peggy’s relief, the bus driver was just picking up more kids.
The small child sat back in her seat trying to act all grown up. Moments later, the bus slowed down and pulled over. Peggy jumped up to see where they were. They arrived at a school this time but only some of the kids got off the bus. “What do I do? Do I get off here too?” Her eyes opened wide as she watched the kids get off the bus. Her lips quivered. She looked out the window for her daddy’s familiar face. He wasn’t there. Before she could decide what to do, the bus began to move. She fell back down in her seat hoping that wasn’t her stop.
The bus slowed down once again and pulled over. More kids got off the bus. Peggy jumped up to see another school. She didn’t expect the bus to stop anywhere else except at her destination. “Is this my school?” She asked herself as her big round eyes looked left and right for her daddy in the small crowd outside the bus stop. “No daddy! Daddy said he’d be here waiting for me. He’s not here. Is he late? Is this not my school?”
The tiny girl shrank back into her seat fighting back the intense desire to cry. She didn’t want the kids to make fun of her. The bus started up again. She took one last look out the window but still no daddy. Peggy sat down in her seat crossed her little fingers and bit down on her lip hoping she wasn’t supposed to get off the bus at that last stop.
She considered what Becky would do in this situation. “Becky is all grown up,” she thought, “and she wouldn’t cry so I’m not going to cry either. She would sit calmly on the bus until she saw daddy then she would get off the bus so that’s what I’m going to do too.” Peggy smiled and began enjoying her grown-up solo ride again.
Peggy glanced around at the other kids on the bus and noticed boys and girls of different sizes. At first, she thought all these kids were going to kindergarten too but now she realized some of them must have already gone to school. That’s why they knew when to get off. She couldn’t wait until she would be like them and know when to get off the bus. She smiled with anticipation.
Just then the bus slowed down again and pulled over. Peggy looked out the window and this time there was her father standing outside the bus waiting for her. She jumped up from her seat and quickly got off the bus.
“Bye, Bob,” she said.
“Bye, Peggy, see you later. You have a good day at kindergarten.”
“Okay, I will.”
She ran to her father and jumped into his opened arms tingling from the excitement of her first grown-up adventure. “Daddy, I did it! I did it!”
Previously published in e-clips.