And a big yellow school bus took away my little man
The Whole Point

Magic Bus

Today the school bus dropped a small blondish-sort of child wearing a bright yellow backpack off at our doorstep. The child watched the bus drive off for as long as he could, waving goodbye before coming inside, casually slipping his backpack off of his shoulders. He then requested his most difficult puzzle -- a 100-piece floor puzzle depicting Noah's Ark As Painted By One Of Those Holiday Inn Art Show Artists -- and quietly completed it by himself while I sat on the couch wondering when the bus would come back with MY CHILD.

You know, the one who doesn't wear a backpack. Who won't wear a backpack. 

I watched him step down the bus steps and immediately looked behind him for the aide to hand over his backpack. I was about two seconds away from making an idiot out of myself, lost-sunglasses-on-top-of-my-head style, when I finally realized OH MY GOD, HE IS WEARING HIS BACKPACK. And I stared at Noah and then back at the aide, who had simply slid the backpack onto Noah's shoulders after unbuckling him from his seat, the way he probably does with every other child on the bus.

That's the way it goes with them, always. You imagine some strange alternate universe where you say, "This is a backpack. It goes on your back. Here, like this." Aaaaand...done. Your child wears a backpack, happily taking his place with the rest of the general backpack-wearing population. But instead, YOUR child flips the fucking freak OUT when you first put the backpack on his back. And the second time. The third time, okay, quicktakeapicture, but then right back to the screaming for the fourth time, and the fifth time, when all you did was SUGGEST that he put the backpack on his back. And then maybe you give up for awhile, like, whatever, carry your backpack, there are bigger things to worry about, I AM PRETTY SURE.

You tell yourself that he'll get over it, outgrow it, whatever IT is, the wigging out over a backpack. It is the...straps? The way it feels? A balance thing? The fact that he can't see the backpack? You maybe try a messenger bag, a tote bag, but no, he wants the backpack, he just won't wear the backpack. You maybe get a little weary of it, two years later, still having to interrupt camp counselors and teachers after they offer backpack assistance to your child and are confused by his shrill refusal. "He doesn't like to wear backpacks," you whisper. Which sounds so stupid, like OF ALL THE THINGS TO MAKE A THING OVER.

And so many Things. Backpacks. New socks that don't look like his old socks. Taking that shortcut around the park. The sight of an egg cracking. Eating pizza crust-first and upside-down. No forks or spoons, except for macaroni and cheese, but just the yellow kind. This juice in That cup. Toys played with in one specific way, all the time, just. Like. So. You live with these imaginary, arbitrary rules, walking a fine line between keeping the peace and going along with the rituals...and putting your foot down, as if you can just FORCE some flexibility into him.

And then one day he steps off the school bus wearing a backpack, because the school bus aide helped him put his backpack on, completely unaware that he just performed a goddamned Christmas miracle, that he is now the personal lord and savior of a makeup-less, bra-less mother in sweatpants standing on the curb, silently wigging out about a backpack.

(Epilogue: Wrote post during nap, attempted recreation of Blessed Backpack event for photo-op afterward, no dice, despite bribe generous offer of two granola bars. Decided child wants to destroy me, sent him to room for general mouthiness, throwing backpack at dishwasher.)

(Epilogue, part 2: Just attempted to spell S-N-A-C-K out loud to husband, failed miserably, twice. "I don't think that word has an E, babe.")



I just sent Anjali off for her first day today and was amazed at myself for letting go. Cripes.

School is a mysterious and wondrous thing. I am very happy for you right now, Amy.

Kristen McD

So many victories already. This is the second day of school? Go, Noah.

Mama Bub

If a kid wears a backpack, but there's no photographic evidence, did it really happen?

Still a miracle, nonetheless, no?

Momo Fali

At an amusement park recently, my son would ONLY ride on rides which were red. So when we went to dinner later that night and the waitress offered him a red cup, it only makes sense that he said, "No! I want a blue one!" I never know which quirk will rear its head.


Welcome to the world of school. This is hopefully the first of many things you will try to get him to do, plead with him to do, beg and bribe him to do with no luck. All it takes sometimes is a random non-parental unit taking over. Sucks, I know-but at least he wore the freaking backpack.


I would like that magic backpack person to come to my son's school. Because, oh the humanity of backpack wearing. It's cruel I tell you.


i love the epilogue 2. and i'm glad noah is so obviously thriving, already.


That picture of Noah is precious! Those curls!

Yea for small victories, and wishing you many more backpack-wearing days in the future! And if it makes you feel any better, it took me three tries to spell "backpack" accurately. Because, alas, there is no such thing as a "bakepack" or a "backedpacked". If only life, like the interwebs, had spellcheck...


This preschool sounds like it's just what Noah needed. I'm really amazed at the progress already. I'm so happy for you all!


Small victories are the greatest ones. And I totally understand the sock thing. I may or may not have worn the same brand of underwear until high school (not to be confused with the same pair...Mom just had to buy the same type every single time). :) Did I just admit that?


Amalah, I'm crying real actual tears of real actual joy for Noah. He's been trying so hard, and you've been trying so hard, and WOW. A backpack on his little shoulders. Christmas miracle.

*pardon me while I sob some more*

I seriously have been reading you for like three years now, and this is the most deeply moving thing I have read. What a blessing of a boy you have.


*no words* :))))))))))))


Reminds when C first ate a cheeseburger. And held it herself. No, I didn't cry in BK, but I wanted to. Her OT laughed when I said my goal for her was to eat fast food like all the other kids. Sounds like Noah is on his way to kickin' preschool's ass.


Speaking from experience: sometimes nothing kills desired behavior like acknowledging, or even noticing said behavior once exhibited!


I hate to say it, but I think this is just the beginning of one of those things that Noah may be willing to do for other people, but not for his mom.

It's like, when I was a kid I hated doing the dishes at home. But I was perfectly willing to help at other people's houses. I don't know, it's kinda a parental authority thing.

He may also be trying to be polite to the aid, and not hurt the aid's feelings. Whereas, he doesn't really think he's upsetting you. Or he doesn't care because it's HOME.


I think the aide probably has a little magic in him, like the Winter Warlock in Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and so when he slipped Noah's backpack on his shoulders, Noah didn't actually FEEL the backpack, and didn't realize he was wearing it. Magic is so cool.


Three years later after L's first day on the non-short (but really short) bus - he went to kindergarten TODAY. He wore a collared shirt. A miracle. He wore socks with shoes. A miracle. He wore a backpack ON HIS SHOULDERS. A miracle. Did I write that he wore a collared shirt instead of the ONE shirt????? A flipping miracle. He went on the long bus today. The long bus.


once again I am sooo happy for your family!


Sort of related? My son and I were walking with his daycare provider today, which we never do, and he held my hand with NO whining or pulling away --- just like, oh, those are the rules. I was so stunned --- how does she make him, you know, obey? Anyway -- Noah's issue is MUCH MORE COMPLEX than this, I realize, but still very cool. And the spelling out loud is TRICKY! Who needs to know how to spell dessert, until, suddenly, you're trying to say d-e-s-s?-e?-r-t.


Dude, my best friend of 35 years, was the same way when we were girls...and now? She's a doctor...who is still freakishly obsessive about her underwear and flips the ef out about tags in her clothing, no where, no how, cannot abide. Try not to worry too much. ;)


It truly is the little things.


It is just so nice to watch Noah grow up in front of our eyes. I'm just so proud of him. :)


I don't know exactly why this specific post prompts this reaction, but yours is pretty much the only blog I can read these days. All the others I used to follow are so...poorly written, to begin with, and you write beautifully, and...I don't know. I just root for you and Noah in a ridiculously cheesy way every day.


The Mr. Potato head glasses are adorable. And he's wearing them like "yeah, these are my glasses, so what?" Too flippin' cute! Congrats on the progress that he is making!


When you have those good moments you can pretend to us they last forever. If you want.


I'm with Catherine. I loved this post to pieces and I am so proud of Noah and happy for you and Jason.
May this be the first of many Christmas miracles.


Why do I not see a photo in this post, that others clearly do? Am I mad? lol

Noah, you rock. Totally. I think you are the best!


We mess up the spelling of really simple words all the time - ice cream is one that for some reason, neither of us can process. Now that our older son is starting to spell, we speak an odd sort of Olde Englishe in our house, such as "hide the crimson condiment!" (ketchup) or "do you think we should attempt a stroll to the wide grassy field filled with amusements" (aka - should we chance a walk to the park?) So great post, but the snack thing was very validating.


Dude. That's huge. And completely freakin' awesome.

Sprite's Keeper

Well, he has to give you SOME difficulty, right? Keep you on your toes.
Love the backpack story!


I am still amazed they take your preschooler on a BUS to school! I would give anything if I could let my sneaky little 4 year old climb those bus steps and take a seat JUST like his big brother. I have had to peel him off the bus hand rail more times than I can count and then hold him kicking and screaming while the bus driver teases him saying, "Come on!" KNOWING that if I let him on....the bus can not move and inch until I hunt him down and drag him off the bus. Evil and wonderful bus.


Absolutely awesome!


Epilogue 2 is the best. Even with out him "re-doing" the backpack wearing, this is still a HUGE accomplishment. Congrats you!


Okay, I'm a moron. I found the picture. It was a LINK this time, not embedded, and I missed it!

VERY Cute picture. I love that his curls are back!


Oh my gosh, that picture of Noah? Adorable. Can I steal his curls for my future baby? I'll give you my address if you could please just send them my way...
I'm glad the school bus has a magic elf delivering Christmas miracles to you and Noah!! :)


So good to hear he is rockin the backpack.

Backpacking Dad

Epilogues nothwithstanding, I'm awfully proud of that kid.

Backpacks rule. Satchels drool.


Here, here to little victories! Now, if I could get my 6 yr old to put on socks and simulate brushing her own teeth like her 4 yr old sister,I'd celebrate with you.

Heather, Queen of Shake Shake

I remember the moment my son ate off of one our lunch plates...and it wasn't his required ORANGE plate. I also remember the first time we went shoe shopping and it wasn't hell, trying to get him to wear a new pair of shoe. And switching over to warm weather pajamas. Oh, I could go on and on. But yes, it *does* get better and easier and the crazy arbitrary rules fade away.


quit making me cry.


Thanks for sharing with us, Amy. So proud of Noah and so happy for you all! Yay!!


I'm the happily married mother of two. Still, I have to ask. Will you marry me? 'Cause I think I love you!

Seriously, my kid refuses to NOT wear his the car seat, in the mall, in the get the idea. Sigh.

As for cracking eggs, I'm with Noah. Scary.



may the "magic" school bus always come get him.... and bring him home after a perfect day at school!


I came over from Clueless Carolina Girl. This post cracked me up and reminded me of a time I met my brother in a city where he had moved. He picked me up at the train station, carried my bag for me (?), took me to his place and cooked me dinner (?). Halfway through dinner I realized he had served, as the main course, a potato/cheese casserole. Much like your reaction, I put down my fork and said, "Who are you, and what have you done with my brother?" See, my brother doesn't eat potatoes. Or stand near them. We were always required to take one bite of everything served as kids, and he would gag ... literally gag ... when putting a (morsel!) of potato in his mouth was required.

Funny stuff.

He also washed the dishes after serving supper. It was very confusing.


How I understand every word you wrote.

No, not those socks, THESE socks. Stretching out the collar of every crew neck t shirt so bad that I couldn't use them as hand me downs. The screaming in horror at changing clothes, and trying to figure it out. (to this day, at 13, I think it's because he doesn't like the feeling of air flowing across his skin).

It does get better as they get older. You still deal with sensory dramas, but they can articulate it better and work with it. At least now I know all the food aversions and work with them instead of against. There is the occasional surprise of "but Mom, I want some of the sushi, too".


OMG I felt like you were writing about my son!! He will NOT wear the backpack either. I am so proud of Noah and you for such a milestone!! Most parents view major milestones as walking, talking, first day of school but a major milestone could be something as simple as trying a easy for some but monumental for others. We called every relative we knew the first time Will ate a piece of apple and he is 4 1/2 yrs old!!

You are doing a great job with Noah and I so enjoy reading your blog and knowing that someone out there understands!!


I'm so enjoying your blog I just started reading I'd like to be a follower, but not sure how...
ps your family is lovely
precious babies


LOVE IT. I am an Early Intervention Lady (hopefully viewed by the majoirty of parents as "one of the good ones" and just last month I set an 18 month old up behind her walker and backed up in front of her saying "come on M---, you can do it" and she took about 8 steps and I turned her around and we went 10 more back across the room. Well, her Mom walked back into the room from checking on the 3 year old and just flipped out, OH MY GOD HOW DID YOU GET HER TO DO THAT? and I said "Oh, she's not using her walker yet?" because I'm just the Speech Lady, and sometimes clueless just works! Of course, for Noah it probably has a lot to do with all that good sensory stuff they are doing for him, but then again, could be the clueless, or that all the other kids did it when they got off the bus. What ever it was, ENJOY, and don't beat yourself up that he wouldn't do it for you. I love reading your posts, to remind me to look at it from the Mom side. Thank You.

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