The Back of the Bus Kids

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

“How many fingers am I holding up?”

I took the bus with my nine-year-old son, who is mildly autistic, and we sat in the back.

I thought, hey, we’re back-of-the-bus kids, the cool lot.

He smiled, bounced a couple of times in his seat, and said, “Hey, Dad, we should always sit in the back.”

I said, “Yep,” remembering my days from high school and the quest to gain that “cool” status by sitting in the back, and then later on becoming cool enough (or so I thought) that I didn’t need to fuss about sitting in the back anymore.

My son continued: “Because we are a family of five, and there are five seats on the back row, so we fit.”

I said, “Yeah, that’s right.”

He smiled and bounced again.

I’d like to think that at that moment as a father I decided to bounce along with him, to share his moment of joy at the the logic of the seating in the bus and the size of our family. But I didn’t. I started to fret about him and about how he will be able to make friends, how he will be able to fit in and become, in a way, cool. Or at least cool in his own way. It doesn’t really matter, being cool or not. I can say that now as an adult. But it does matter when you’re getting closer to becoming a teenager, to help fit in, to help make friends, and to not look too out of place or too different.

So I didn’t bounce.

But I did smile at his happiness at finding out why sitting at the back of the bus is mathematically cool. And at the same time I fretted about what other kids will think, and I thought about telling him to stop bouncing or to bounce a little less. But I didn’t do that either.

I said, “Hey, we get off at the next stop.”

He stopped bouncing and said, “Can I push the buzzer.”

“Sure…” I said. “But only once.”

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Kev quirke November 13, 2014, 2:44 pm

    By teaching we learn.

  • carly quirke November 13, 2014, 3:27 pm

    I’m impressed with his logic, sounds like the perfect place for you all to sit really x

    • Charles Newbery November 13, 2014, 3:37 pm

      In a perfect world, our family would be an even number of boys and girls for him. But there are more girls, and he can’t figure out how to resolve that other than for us to have another baby, but we have to make sure it is a boy. Not easy.

  • jenny newbery November 13, 2014, 8:01 pm

    Or happening!

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