When I first began my discipline of getting up earlier to get to work earlier, I felt pretty terrible physically. It was a hard adjustment on my body. Every morning I felt bleary and tired and wished I could just go back to bed instead of driving around in the dark. As I drove out of the neighborhood painfully early, around 615am, I saw kids waiting for their school bus. I felt sorry for them because I remember my high school days of the bus coming around six because school started at seven. But more than feeling sorry for them, I felt sorry for myself because looking at them made me feel so old.
Every morning I would see these high school kids standing in the lightening shadows of the early morning. They were not clearly seen, but they seemed so young. I would look at them and think that this is how I know I am getting old because the high schoolers now look impossibly young to me. Day after day, I would sigh for all of us being out in the morning darkness and sigh for my lost youth evidenced in their own youth.
One day I mentioned this feeling of impending old age to a friend. It was then that she enlightened me. These children were not high school students. The high school bus did not run until 645. These were middle school students that were standing in the dark at 615 in the morning waiting for the bus.
All at once I was relieved and horrified. I'm not that old after all! These students look like grade schoolers because they *are* grade schoolers. Hurray! I am not fast retreating into old age where everyone looks like a child. I will not have to yell, "Get off my lawn." Relief.
But then in set the reality of the situation. These are middle school students sent out into the dark to wait on the bus. How awful. To get to the bus on time, they must be getting out of bed around 530. Do they get to eat breakfast at home or is that an impossibility? What must bedtime look like at these houses? They must need to get into bed very early. Do they? Or are they all walking around sleep deprived as they are forced to keep these hours coupled with homework and activities? How much screaming and crying happens in these houses since everyone is in slavery to the schedule?
It is terrible to think about it. I know how much stress is in my house trying to get children in bed while their bus comes at a decent hour. I know how tired they are after a full day at school and how cranky it makes them. What would it be like when they are denied another hour of sleep and the demands made of them are higher? How will I react to having to get children ready for school at an hour at which I am not functional? I will have to awaken earlier still. It is not comforting.
The specter of the middle school bus hangs over me. I admit some of my ambition to homeschool comes from wanting to avoid the consequences of that bus.