By Don Rush

Alright. Let me set the table. Three weeks ago I asked some questions like, “Why do so many parents drive their kids to school these days, when they are already paying for perfectly fine school bus department?” (To read that column, click here.)
Last week, mom (and now grandma) Pam B, answered my questions — why she drove her kids to school, and why she let her daughters drive to school when they were old enough. And, she did a fine job. (Click here to read that column.)
This week, Michael F, responds to Pam B’s response to Don R (me). Thanks everyone for reading and caring enough to write. I think that’s all the rest of you need to know!

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Don, Grandma Pam B’s reiteration of all her efforts to shield her formerly school-aged kids from the hardships of Michigan winters, rain and school bus rides was certainly an interesting and informative read, although somewhat disturbing in some regards. One hopes that Pam’s efforts to shield her kiddies from the rigors of a school bus ride and perhaps other life hardships have not contributed to the growing cadre of self-absorbed, self-centered and entitled individuals plaguing our society. Surely, by now any adult child who may have taken up residence in Pam’s basement has moved on.
I suspect Pam’s “reasons” for chauffeuring her kids to school or letting them drive in personal vehicles in lieu of putting them on the school bus are really just excuses for simply doing what was easier and more convenient for her. She could afford it, so why not?
This is not illegal in America where we have all kinds of rights, free speech and many choices—and selfishness involves little social stigma. I’m sure Pam—a seemingly intelligent woman— recognizes the feebleness of her reasoning and would not have accepted such weak alibis and rationale from her developing children when confronted with demands for explanations for their own youthful selfish indulgences.
Of course, Pam may have exaggerated some of her points for the purposes of illustration and persuasion, or she may simply think some of us are just downright stupid. For example, not many Clarkston kids live in developments of look-alike cookie cutter homes so distant from school that a 45 minutes bus commute is involved. Like many of us, Pam is now older and wiser—a grandmother even. She probably realizes by now that a seven-year-old child can be trained to recognize their own house even on a block of look-alike houses, and that there are simple things a parent can do to empower and enable a child to make this easier.
Pam also alludes to the alleged tortures and indiscretions her children witnessed or endured on the bus—horrors akin to incarceration on Riker’s Island! But Pam probably knows by now kids often exaggerate and sometimes lie when twisted renditions can manipulate mom or dad. And in this day of expanding waistlines, fit-bits, liposuction, personal trainers and gym memberships, perhaps expecting kids to walk a block or two to catch a bus is not a bad thing. Maybe start with days with no clouds or rain.
Notwithstanding Pam’s “facts”, “reasons” and arguments, the scientific research and NTSB data indicate the school bus is by far the most efficient, environmentally sound, cost-effective and safe way to transport a child to school.
Riding on a school bus also affords important learning, social interaction and socialization, and other developmental opportunities for a child. The teaching and learning possibilities and realities are limitless.
Pam’s efforts and those of people like her to ensure a shielded life and leisurely breakfast for their kids through car rides to school often involve costly economic and environmental impacts for other folks, including taxpayers and the economically disadvantaged. The car rides result in excessive gas and oil consumption (with resultant higher costs for all), increased use of steel, aluminum and plastics which often end up in landfills or worse, vehicular accidents, increased exhaust emissions and lower air and water quality from unnecessary vehicles on the road and the idling and gridlock they create, wear and tear to roads and bridges, and huge inconvenience and lost productivity for all involved.
Pam, I hope you are discussing these things with your grandchildren at breakfast or in the car.

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