First Day Jitters

Scottsdale Unified School District is back in session for the first full week of the school year. Gerry Niskern sends this remembrance and reminder:

First Day Jitters

They’re big, cumbersome and annoying actually. They block our view and slow us down. Every neighborhood is infested with them around the middle of August. They make us late for work.  It’s the yellow school buses!

Did you ride the school bus? I did. I can tell you  that sitting on one of those buses that you are trapped behind is a wide-eyed child just starting school. He’s thinking “I wish I could sit in the front seat.” I know this because when I started school at a little country school back East, I had the same illusions.

I was sure that I would get to ride in the front seat, across from the driver. When I struggled up those steep steps I  looked up to see the driver’s two little daughters sitting smugly in those coveted seats; where they continued to sit as long as I rode that bus.

Recently I asked this question of a few people of various ages. “What is the first thing that pops in your mind when you see the yellow buses and you realize school is starting?”

The first was a retired man who had driven a school bus for many years. “Well, back when I started  I learned to spot the trouble makers fast. When I wrote up a student for causing trouble and they lost their riding privileges for a week, I knew the driver of the nearest route to notify. That way the culprit couldn’t sneak a ride with another crowd.

He chuckled when he thought about how he had gotten so he could predict the day, usually at the end of the first week, when five or six boys would jump out the back emergency exit. He would be standing there waiting for them; waiting to herd them back on the bus.

One teenage girl answered my question, “Well, of course, I hope I bought the coolest new school clothes.” A retired teacher answered, “Oh good, schools starting and I don’t have to go. Golf anyone?”

A kindergarten teacher of many years stated, “That’s easy, crying children. I call August the crying month. Only a third of my students have had pre-school experience. It’s hard on them, but harder on the parents who just won’t let go.”

I asked a young mother what her reaction to the buses were and she promptly replied, “Halleluiah!”

So just remember, when a school bus is stopped, stop sign out or not, do not pass!

And watch out for the boys scrambling out the back door!

Gerry Niskern is the author of Don’t Throw the Bread, a memoir, available in the ScottsdaleTrails Amazon Store. She grew up in Phoenix and was a monthly contributor to the Arizona Republic. You can see Niskern’s watercolors at She can be reached at Also see her previous submissions on ScottsdaleTrails.

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