When did parents start waiting for the bus with their kids?

Back in the cretaceous era, when the young twicks took a big yellow bus to school, she walked her own damn self to the bus stop (half a mile away? a mile?) and waited for the bus with the other kids, each of whom had walked him- or herself to the bus stop. My sister is four years older than me, so in first and second grade I was with her, but after that, I was on my own. I actually have very fond memories of waiting for the bus; we used to play Red Light Green Light, Mother May I, etc., while we waited. We mocked the kids at the stop after ours, who’d wait inside (at least in the winter), since one kid lived right where the bus stopped. (Buncha sissies!)

These days, you see kids waiting with their parents. Little kids, okay, it’s 40 years later, things have changed – but kids who look to be 10 or 12 also.

Has the world gotten that unsafe? Or have parents merely gotten that overinvolved in their kids’ lives?

I think it’s the latter. Parental Paranoia has reached epidemic levels in this country. The world has changed somewhat, but the coddling and hand-wringing is out of control. Dr. Phil had some woman on a few weeks back who burst into tears when her 14-year-old took the bus and went to the mall with some friends. It’s pathetic.

I walked myself to the school bus stop 1971-1979 and then walked to school through junior high & high school (uphill both ways, if there wasn’t snow on the ground I would bring my own) – this in suburban New Jersey. My parents still live in the same neighborhood, but (not living there myself, and visiting mainly on weekends) I didn’t really notice the crowds-of-adults-at-the-busstop thing until the late 90s. I always took this to be a genuine (if needless) fear of abduction rather than just an outbreak of overproptective parenting.

When did the first kidnapped kid appear on a milk cartion? Google was of no help, but my memory was that this started when I was in college (1983-1987). For that matter, when did the see-saws and merry-go-rounds disappear and playground equipment become so static? I think the worm turned in the course of the 80s and suburban kids are on a much tighter leash than our generation. (Bike helmets, bah!)

A analagous situation would be the number of kids trick-or-treating solo, which were vast when I was a kid but have been essentially zero for ten or fifteen years according to my parents – there are always parents chaperoning.

On the other hand, in Manhattan I will often see groups of ten-year-olds unescorted on the subway and kids out playing on the streets of my neighborhood quite late at night. I would imagine there’s more genuine peril in Harlem and Washington Heights than suburban NJ.

Yeah, I noticed this around my neighborhood, too. I bought the house I grew up in, and the bus stop for the neighborhood is in the same spot as it was when I was a kid. Right there at the end of the block.

Not only are the parents waiting there with the kids, but some moms and dads are DRIVING THEIR KIDS to the bus stop. They sit there in their SUV until the bus comes, let the kid out of the truck, and then they board the bus for school. Yes, this happens even when the weather is nice.

I hate to sound like an old fart, but in my day, I’d wait patiently for the bus, rain or shine. No parents, no warm car. What the hell is the deal? The kid’s already in the car - why not just drive them the rest of the way to school? It’s three miles tops.

Having grown up in the bailiwick of the Los Angeles Unified School District, I’ve got modern kids beat with regard to sheer effete laziness. When I was in school, the school buses stopped at nearly every house where someone lived, or at most a half block away. We didn’t have school bus stops.

But I think this made the overall bus trip slower, especially if you lived near the end of the route, as I did.

It’s simply because we’re terrified of the What-If’s.

OK, my kid is probably not going to be abducted. The bully probably won’t hit him. The bus probably won’t careen out of control and run over all the waiting children. They probably won’t get shot by passing gangs. They probably won’t be hit by lightning, nor will a terrorist crash a plane into the bus stop.

But what if? What if even one of those terrible things I hear about on the news every night happens and I’m not there? I’ll be a bad, bad parent and the reporters will come to my house and thrust cameras in my face and blame me me me!

We’re afraid that something bad will happen, and we’re afraid that we’ll be perceived as bad parents - after all, the other kids’ parents wait with them. Fear and peer pressure. The same things motivate you whether you’re 14 or 40.

Who started making WhyKid walk to school alone in the sixth grade.

I agree that parents are coddling their children entirely too much, but it’s in all the wrong ways. The coddling has led to whininess and an inability to care for oneself and the notion that you should always get what you want because you are richer, smarter, prettier, etc. I run into so many parents who insist that their child does not deserve a D because they were just much too tired to do their homework and I ought really be more understanding and let it slide just this once…

Yet same parent is much too liberal with boundaries. Child goes to endless parties with godknowswho doing godknowswhat and parent doesn’t even seem to notice the innocence being lost from her fourteen year old. Every parent thinks his/her kid isn’t the hellraiser that they are. Trust me, kids don’t think twice about talking about their extracurricular, uh, activities in front of me. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many little girls I’ve overheard brag about the number of blowjobs she can give in one night…

My youngest is the only child at his bus stop-which also happens to be the end of my driveway. I went out there with him until this year (he is in second grade) 1. because I wanted to make sure he didn’t go in the street (he is a dreamer and not very aware of his surroundings) and for company for him. I started not going out every day this year. Most likely, next year, he won’t want me out there. Fine with me.

The older two I went out on the first day of school etc. But that was it, because they had each other to pass the time.

I get really impatient with the mollycoddling. I have done it myself (you have to experience the peer pressure to really understand why so many people cave) and rolled my eyes at myself while doing it. IMO, we are bringing an entire generation into adulthood that won’t be adults in some way. Kids need alone time-those odd pockets of time when we thought about weird things and Life, made up games etc. Kids don’t have that today, not really. It’s sad.

It’s all driven by parental paranoia. But unfortunately, there’s this feedback loop, which gives you even more reason to be paranoid. Example one: kids used to play in the street. Drivers knew this, and would drive slowly through residential streets. Today, of course, kids generally don’t play in the streets, so cars drive much faster and aren’t looking for kids. Result: too dangerous to ever let kids play in the street. Example two: Sexual predators. Back in the day, with every kid playing outside, your kid wasn’t the only potential target. Today, since everyone else is indoors, if you let your kid wander, he/she becomes more of a target.

The other thing that I find is that it’s hard to let go of these habits of oversight you develop when the kids are little. And again, there’s a feedback loop problem. For example, kids are used to being escorted across the street, so they don’t develop good habits about crossing the street – they just tend to run out witlessly. You actually have to make a determined effort as a parent to begin to cut the cords at a certain age. The trouble is, it’s hard to know when and how to start.

But yeah, this is a huge societal change in just one generation, and it may well profoundly affect how our kids develop.

Oh man, it’s sad, sad, sad. In the last few years, childhood has changed. Kid’s don’t “go outside and play” anymore. Everything must be planned, organized and charted down to the second. Childhood is a mass of riding in mom’s SUV surrounded by soccer equiptment. Kid’s don’t bike. They don’t walk home from school.

It’s a mix of paranoia (child related crimes havn’t increased for decades, but awareness of them has), status anxiety (poor people let their kids run amok all over the streets. How can they ever expect to get in to a good college if they arn’t spending their time at clubs and activities?) and general cultural sissyhood.

I agree, but just wanted to say that not all parents drive SUVs, and also that the stereotype of over-scheduled kids seems much more applicable to upper-income families; parents with the time and money to plan their children’s lives in that way.

I’ve noticed this a LOT in my neighborhood, which is a apartment complex and quite safe. The pool is empty unless there are parents, the tennis courts stand vacant, and kids only come out for prescribed times. When I was a kid I’d race to do my homework as soon as I got home and then stay out until dinner, after eating that I’d rush back out and be outside until dark.

Well, the pool one I would agree with. Kids shouldn’t be in a pool unsupervised.

The other stuff, yes it’s getting out of hand. I see parents of kids that look to be 14-16 year olds waiting for their bus with them. In my day we walked to school 20 miles, uphill both ways…

Twix, I don’t think you walked more than 1/10 of a mile to the bus stop, unless you attended school in the Total Bastard Unified School Disctrict. I used to walk my kids to school when we lived in the city, because two girls had been attacked and molested in the neighborhood while waiting for the bus around that time. Once we moved out, I would wait with my daughter until one of her firends showed up. It kind of sucks to standing in the cold all by yourself.

Possibly my biggest pet peeve. Little Sierra or Justin swaddled in the interior of an SUV when it’s 78 degrees & sunny on a late spring day in NW NJ. This of course leads to delays when the bus arrives (much like people who get to the checkout stand & realize THEY HAVE TO PAY NOW - and start grubbing for their wallets). Sierra & Justin have to lumber out of the SUV and strap on the enormous back packs or gear up the luggage carrier that holds their school books, get out of said SUV & leisurely amble to the bus.

The hair on the back of my neck raises.


My first guess was a mile – it was probably less than that, but more than a tenth of a mile. (My mental calculation is that a mile is 10 Philly center city blocks). This was out in the 'burbs, and we were way down away from the more populous blocks where the bus stopped.

It’s actually not that far from where I live now – I’ll do an odometer run next time I’m out in that neck of the woods.

Sixth grade? Geez…my kid was watching other people’s kids in the 6th grade.

Not in our neighborhood. Overscheduling is expected up and down the financial ladder. Some parents use it as a babysitter, some use it as a status symbol.

In my apartment complex, there are signs posted in the exercise room and the pool saying that no one under 14 is supposed to use those facilities unless supervised by an adult. Blame the management company’s fear of being sued for this one, not parental paranoia.

I’m a bad bad mom.

No one in our neighborhood is out with their kids to catch the bus. I take my kids down once in a while - but not all the time, mostly for the walk. And they get off the bus and come home, too. And they play in the neighborhood without adults outside to watch them - they even go out into the woods.

However, I’m grateful for these moms because last year my kindergartener got off AT THE WRONG STOP - about half a mile away from home in a part of the neighborhood he’d never been to. The houses looked similar and one of the homes looked like a neighbor and drove a truck just like Matt’s Dad. The overanxious mother didn’t recognize the extra kid, so asked him if he knew his phone number and called me.