Picture: School bus on road through the desert at sunrise, near Ocotillo Wells, San Diego County, California
On my recent trip to Southern California last month, I had one of those moments of sheer clarity; a true, “Thank God” moment. It was about 6:03 AM on a Monday morning as I was heading into Joshua Tree National Park from Yucca Valley. I was about a mile before the park entrance kiosk when I passed, in the dark, about a half dozen kids standing at a school bus stop. I looked at the outside temp gauge on my truck, and it read 14 degrees. (That was three degrees warmer than the previous morning.) Being a parent,Â I’m the one responsible for getting my own kids up by 7:10, dressed, fed, and out the door to school by 7:35 every morning. Yes, that includes brushing their teeth. Anyway, at the moment I passed theseÂ kidsÂ on the sideÂ of the road, I couldÂ only think about how tough these kids and parents must have it if they need to be outside ready for the bus at 6:03 AM. In that same moment, I said a quick “Thank God that ain’t us” and also had a wave of admiration for the perseverance these kids and parents endure for the sake of getting an education.
The above photo was taken a number of days later, and many many miles away from that cold, dark, bus stop filled with waiting kids. Yet, it too reminds me of what we in suburbia and urban areas take for granted, namely our schools being so close to where we live, and our accessibility to a good education.
But in the end, I remember the words of my dad, who used to tell me over and over about how he had to walk for miles through cold winter snow – barefoot, both ways, in order to go to school. At least these kids have a bus.