For parents during Orientation, a school bus parable

A midday Orientation program geared to new Bates parents featured a slew of tales shared by the college’s administrative leaders. Part pep talk and part lesson, the session encouraged parents to see their students as independent adults.

Roland Davis ’92, director of the Office of Intercultural Education, supported the theme by telling a story of how he learned to give his young daughter freer reign as she began kindergarten.

Though it had been his dream to drive her to school every day, she wanted to ride the school bus — a desire complicated by the fact that the bus driver would be picking her up at home but leaving her off at day care. It was a wrinkle that sent the already anxious dad around the bend.

On her first day of school, “I decided to follow the school bus to make sure was going where it was supposed to go,” said Davis. It was quite a process, as he had to stop every time the bus stopped, hanging back behind the bus even when the driver indicated that he was welcome to pass.

Soon after Davis got home, a police car pulled into the driveway. Davis had to explain to the cop that, yes, he was the guy tailing the school bus. “I am an unhinged helicopter parent whose daughter had her first day of kindergarten today,” he told the police officer, and he had been worried that the bus driver would leave her off in the wrong place.

The cop was satisfied, and left. As for Davis, he was strangely reassured. The system had worked, with both the driver and the police doing what they should have done to look after his child.

The moral of the story: “We can’t control everything, nor in most cases should we have to. More often than not, things work out as we hope they will,” Davis told the gym full of parents.

“The child that you’re leaving off today will be just fine.”

Quipped Tedd Goundie, dean of students and program host, as Davis left the dais, “Each time I hear that story, it gets no less disturbing.” The parents laughed, knowingly.

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