Maybe it’s because the sun is now up at 6:40, or maybe it’s because I’m paying more attention to the world around me now that I got something heavy off my chest (or is that out of my chest), but I’m noticing that there is an impressive number of fathers escorting their kids to the neighborhood bus stop these days. There’s Elliot the retired Marine from NYC, who walks with his grandson. There’s the guy, whose name escapes me, who takes his German shepherd Zeus for a walk on the way to the bus stop with his daughter. There’s Sean, a corporate security professional who, like me, always has a story handy about how fast our girls are growing up. There are several others with whom I’ve yet to bond.
Sociologists, certain media outlets and just plain old haters be damned, because in our little neighborhood in Fulton county Georgia, there is a band of dads executing a critical element of their fatherly responsibilities.
OK, please give me a second to step down from my soap box.
Of course I can’t speak for the other dads, but I find that during the walk to the bus stop and in those minutes before the bus arrives I am able to gather a bounty of unsolicited and incredibly useful intelligence. A couple of weeks ago, before the clocks went back, Zoe directed me to look up to the charcoal black pre-dawn sky as she lectured me on the constellations (…as an uncomfortable bead of sweat rolled down my back as I remembered how poorly I did, thanks to the unfortunate choice of taking astronomy as a collegiate elective). Our conversations also go beyond academia. My daughter shares with me the skinny on who she’s friendly with and who’s pissing her off (sorry, potty mouth pops is paraphrasing).
The bus stop is also the time to get that last big hug, fist bump and kiss on the cheek before father and daughter go their separate ways. It’s also a time for me to impart a quick dose of fatherly wisdom like please don’t forget your lunchbox or don’t let random child x piss you off.
Way back when, I didn’t have these bus stop moments. I walked to grade school and during the high school years I had the bone jarring, butt cheek clenching thrill of riding Atlantic City’s historic jitneys down Pacific Avenue to good ol’ ACHS. No complaints, I’m just happy to be one of those dads who has the gift and the privilege of spending, what I think, are some of the most important minutes of the day with his kid.