Late for School Pick Up

Updated on March 28, 2011
M.C. asks from Laguna Niguel, CA
12 answers

The other day I was late for my 5 year old son's school bus pick up. I missed the bus, I frantically jumped in my car and caught up with the bus several stops later. In spite of the bus driver's consoling and assurance I would get him at next stop, my son was very scared. It has been a week since the incident, he refuses to ride to bus again, and is fearful I will be late to get him from school, he has been crying at school and just not himself. Please any advice? Thanks

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answers from Washington DC on

The rule here for Kindergartener's is that. If an approved adult is not at the bus stop to 'accept' the child, the child is not allowed off the bus and is driven back to the school after all of the other kids have been dropped off.

When my brother was in Kindergarten, my Grandmother was asked to get him from the bus stop. The bus driver did not know who she was. Gma thought that she could just stand at the end of the driveway and brother would come to her. The bus stopped. Waited. No one got off. My brother was in the back of the bus waiving at my Grandma. Gma was frantic. We had to walk up to the school to get my brother. My Gma cried for 2 days!

I think that he just needs to learn that taking a long bus ride back to the school is okay. Sometimes parents get stuck in traffic and we miss the bus. He won't be left at school by himself. He'll be with staff and possibly other kids until you come, which from the sounds of it, was right after. One fun thing you could do is follow the bus back to school one day and then wave from the back as you go.


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answers from Chicago on

anxiety about you not being there is normal. I pick up some kids from school each day. the little girl asks me every single day "you won't be late will you" apparently the mom was late often. You need to tell your son your sorry and explain why you were late and move on. don't let it be a defining moment in his school year. it will not be the first time your late. explain to him what happens when your late. (the bus driver will never leave him alone on a bus stop, that you will catch up to the bus always just like you did this time) don't play into the drama. kids will feed off of your anxiety level. so you were late big deal. let it go and don't even let it keep going on. remind him that it is similar to how you feel when he doesn't come in from outside when you call or how it feels when hubby comes home late. its scarry for a minute and then its over.

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answers from Jacksonville on

So, because you weren't "there" (at the bust stop I'm guessing) the driver didn't let him off the bus? I didn't know they did that.

How exactly did he "refuse to ride the bus again"? I sympathize with you for giving in, but what happened when you did that is you allowed HIM to DECIDE to not ride the bus. It's his rules, now. The problem isn't that he doesn't want to ride the bus now (that was your original problem); now the problem is that you have to take the "authority" of choosing how he gets home away from him. Not a power he should have had to begin with.

Sit him down, and have a heart to heart. Yes, you messed up. Sometimes things happen and people get behind schedule. It happens. It happened, and you are sorry that it frightened him. But nothing bad happened because of it. You were there within a few minutes and he got home just fine. The problem wasn't with the bus. You will ride the bus home today (tomorrow, whatever you decide) and mommy will be there when you get off. IF something should ever happen again, where mommy isn't there when the bus arrives, then this is what he is to do: _________. It probably won't ever happen again. But if it did, here's what happens: _________ (repeat).
I know this isn't how you want to come home from school in the afternoons. But this is the plan that we are using. I'll meet you at the bus stop at ___ (time) ready for a big hug.

And then go for it.
If you tell the school that he is a bus rider, they will put him on the bus. But if you give in and continue to pick him up from school each afternoon, guess what? He's not going to be on the bus.


For WIW, my 9 yr old was an hour late getting home yesterday, b/c her bus had (another) substitute driver who missed her stop. She was VERY angry about it all. (And I was frantic calling the school... since she is the only child who gets off at our neighborhood). She didn't want to ride it anymore. Asked me to be a "car rider" again (I used to pick her up until about a month ago). I told her I knew she wanted me to pick her up, but that we decided she was riding the bus home now. So she would ride the bus. But I'd meet her at the stop and help her carry her backpack home. :)

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answers from Reno on

I had the same thing happen to me. My son is 7 and had just started a new school. It was an early release and I did not know. I actually saw the bus dropping him off (i live on a hill) and frantically ran down to meet him. He was running and crying up the hill to find me. It was torture and I felt HORRIBLE as well. He did the same thing. Very worried and anxious, didn't want to take the bus. It just took LOTS of re-assurance and constantly telling him I would be at the bus stop. One thing that did get his mind off of worrying if i was going to be there was when I would tell him I'd have a special snack with me for him. Then he would ask about the snack, NOT if I was going to be there. Just be patient and give him lots of hugs and beat him to the punch line... "mommy will see you at the bus stop at 3:15.." (or whatever time)

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answers from Eugene on

For the next week pick him up at school. After that he can ride the bus again.
For a boy his age this is a normal type of anxiety about getting left behind, separated from his parents.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Help him overcome his fear by putting him back on the bus and then being there at drop-off and then every day say, "I was here to meet you again today. What do you think about that?" After a few days, he should be fine. I would be cautious about letting his fear get the best of him by....Caving in isn't the word I want...But giving it too much credence will I think feed his fear.

My how times have changed! I was dropped off at the top of my driveway (several distant neighbors were too since mine was the consolidated bus stop for that stretch). Our driveway was long and winding. You cannot see the road from the house due to dense forest. In the winter, it could be dark at pick up or drop off. No way my parents could have even seen us. Didn't matter. We were dropped off.

In fact, our district today doesn't have this parental-presence-policy - Even for kindergartners.


answers from Austin on

First you need to talk about people making mistakes, even moms..
Give examples and then on a daily basis if you , your husband or your sone make a mistake, show a correct reation.

Oh dear, I am late getting to the store, there are going to be a lot of people there. Oh well, it will just take a little longer.

Oops, I cannot find my keys, please help me find them. Sometimes I lose them and I have to look all by myself. It can make me late getting to my appointment.

Middle of baking and an activity you promised your son, oops, I am running late mixing this cake. I will be a few minutes late, set up some legos and I will be right there.

Then explain that you try really hard to always be on time. It is good manners. But sometimes, things happen, lost keys, a spill on the floor, traffic, important phone call from dad.. But it will be ok.

Then let him know what happens if you are not at the bus stop, In our district the elementary school kids are taken back to the campus. (let your son know the teacher, and office people are there for at least an hour after school lets out) So he will not be alone and they will call you.. Take him to the school office to actually meet the people there (call ahead and let them know what is going on).. They will reassure your son they will be there, it happens all of the time and he will never be alone..



answers from Erie on

when my son started K last year and my daughter this year, I was a total nervous nelly. A few things helped. first we have a super sweet bus driver and we know her name and say hi and wave to her all the time and send gifts on holidays etc. THis lady is a major player in keeping my kids safe and i will kiss her butt to make sure she knows how much i appreciate her driving safely, cleaning up my kids puke (yes it happened) and keepign an eye out for them. I"m sure she isn't paid enough for what she does.
The second thing that made me feel better was to outline a plan with my kids before the first day. I should have known that they would keep the kids on the bus and take them back to school, but just to cover all my bases. I explained to the kids that i was never not there, they were to go to the neighbor on the right first and ring the bell and explain, and then if she wasn't home go to the neighbor on the right. both neighbors were ok with this and had my cell number. It made the kids feel better to have a plan and it made me feel tons better too.

I know that doesn't help you alot now. but be as calm as you can about it, tell your son exactly what would happen if you were late again, Maybe find an older kid in the neighborhood that gets off after your son to sort of be a mentor and help keep him calm as he works through this bad experience and starts to trust the whole bus experience again. If you have to call the bus garage and explain to them and see if they can match him up with an older student.
have him draw pictures about it so he can have an outlet instead of the tears. and BE FIRM soooo much easier said than done.

and if it makes you feel anybetter, i have pulled in my drive way 45 seconds ahead of the bus all week this week. Just trying to get too much done i guess. but it freaks me out so bad, and like an idiot i let it happen 4 more times.



answers from Sacramento on

What about promising him a big surprise when he gets off the bus the next day? Then surprise him with a bunch of balloons, a new toy or something else that's special? Let him know you're so sorry you missed that one stop, but that he is safe with the bus driver, it won't happen again and to show how sorry you are, you'll have that surprise for him.


answers from Denver on

I'm sorry...I don't follow your question.

You weren't there to pick him up when he got off the bus? Was your son with you this whole time? Or waiting for you?



answers from Honolulu on

I would brainstorm with him (you know, Imagination Movers like to brainstorm) ideas on what he could do if it were to happen again. Your job is to raise a competent adult, so even though he's five, he can make choices and feel in control of his situation. Some ideas: he could talk to the bus driver, count the houses between stops, memorize local landmarks, memorize your cell phone number and ask the driver to call once stopped, etc. Good luck! db



answers from Oklahoma City on

If I am working on a project or some other thing I can get very focused. I use my yahoo calendar to send messages to my cell phone as reminders. You can contact your service provider to get your "address" for your cell.

I sit down at the beginning of the year, when the school calendar comes out, and go through the whole year putting "J to school", "Pick up J", "No School Today", and important days out of school like teachers meetings and holiday breaks. I have the notices repeat every day M-F and then just "delete this time only" on the days out of school.

I use my yahoo calendar for every appointment I have so that I can always be where I need to be. At some point you are going to have to decide to be the mom and just tell your child he has to ride the bus and put him on it. It may be hard on him the first week or so but he will learn to trust you again.

Next question: Bus Drop off Issues - Should I Call the Transportation Dept?