**Updated 29 Sept: Rockstar says the school is starting Play Buddies – where the older kids can volunteer to help out on the younger kids’ playgrounds, organising games and stuff. Naturally, he and one or two of his friends have volunteered. Some of his friends have cute stories about having their little sisters’ friends as bus buddies…
A minor Rite of Passage at Rockstar’s school is the coming of age to get assigned a Bus Buddy. When you are a year 5 child at Kennedy (about 8 or 9 years old), you get assigned a “freshman” bus buddy, a year 1 child whom you pick up from his/her classroom and escort to their school bus. Now, I would assume this is good for the 4-5 year olds who are just starting out at a 900-student primary school, but what I didn’t realise was the positive impression the Bus Buddy Experience is leaving on Rockstar as the older child assigned a young charge.
Somewhat predictably, since Rockstar often gets seated next to newer/younger/shyer kids on the bus, he gets assigned a very quiet little boy, whom he observes is “small (not unlike himself), and quite cute”. Over the weeks that followed, Bus Buddy experiences would work its way into conversations. Little Bus Buddy finally started talking today. Little Bus Buddy especially started speaking up when Rockstar read his Thomas the Train library books to him. “Read it again!”
Then, when friends were off sick, the older kids would occasionally get assigned their friends’ bus buddies as well. Is that hard, do they run off in different directions?
“No, I just ask each one to hold on to one of my bag straps and walk with me. Then they started talking to each other and didn’t stop the whole time so I didn’t even need to say anything.”
Most recently, saying Rockstar’s name right became a source of entertainment. Rockstar’s friends would ask Little Bus Buddy, “Say his name again?”
“Lion Rye.” <everyone melts>
Rockstar: You know Mum, I even drew it out for him.
Me: You what?
Rockstar: I wrote it down and used arrows. “This is where the “R” goes. That’s where the “L” goes. They need to exchange places in my name.”
LBB: <nodding enthusiastically> Yes! Yes! I got it!
Rockstar: What’s my name again?
LBB: <triumphantly> Lion Rye!
Rockstar’s classmate: <calling over> Hey, did you get his name yet?
LBB: Yes! Lion Rye!!
Rockstar: It’s…. Ok, can you say “R”. Good, and can you say “L”. Yes, yes, and now my name.
LBB: Lion Rye!
Rockstar’s classmate: It’s not a bad name. Why don’t you just get your mum to change your name.
Rockstar: Oh yah “Lion” is ok too. I could be a “Lion”.
LBB: <laughs delightedly><says Rockstar’s name correctly>
Which is how I came to hear about it. And about how Little Bus Buddy knows some really big words while still working on reading simpler ones (because Rockstar being Rockstar he took the Bus Buddies Are Also Reading Buddies bit really seriously and went on to do the homework readers after the library books – he says he had had Reading Buddy older kids come read with him during school hours when he was in the lower years too), how LBB is fairly newly from San Francisco and doesn’t speak much Chinese (despite looking fully Asian), how LBB assured him he knew “Malaysia (where Rockstar explained his parents were originally from) is a place on Earth”…..
Riding on the packed busy school bus is probably one of those things we don’t really notice…. Right until our kids tell us they really enjoy the little freshie kid they were assigned in the course of their regular Year 5 duties. One of those reminders that only a small part of education for our kids is about the books.