I’ve started a weird habit, guys.
This morning, The Toddler and I drove up to the Rocky River Nature Center (highly recommend if you’re in Northeast Ohio!) for a quick hike and playtime at the center itself, which is free and houses a small animal exhibit, an awesome tree-themed playhouse, and a few really big, climbable animal models, plus a bird-and-bee viewing area and a big deck over the river where you can watch wildlife. God love the Cleveland Metroparks.
We had a great time, slowly scaling the 150 or so steps of the Fort Hill Stairs (The Toddler repeating, “Step. Step. Step.” and flatly ignoring several high-five invitations from fellow climbers) before doing a few laps through the nature center to admire the taxidermy and live animals on display.
On our way back to the car afterward to fulfill The Toddler’s three-string-cheese snack quota (Every. Day. I realize this probably isn’t good, but he also eats his weight in fruit and it seems to be the only thing keeping him from exploding from all that fiber. But I digress and overshare.) Anyway, on our walk back through the parking lot, we came across two school buses parked and vacant of children, with their drivers hanging out.
The Toddler is obsessed with school buses (and tractors, and bulldozers, etc.), so I walked him toward the buses for a closer look. I pointed out the wheels, the stop sign, etc., and we were standing close enough that the drivers took notice. One of them asked us if we wanted to climb aboard to see the inside of the bus.
In a voice that I hoped communicated surprise (feigned) and gratitude (sincere), I said, “Really?! Oh, [Toddler], do you want to get on the bus? Thank you!”
So we climbed aboard and The Toddler spent a few delighted minutes walking up and down the aisles, sitting on the seats and pointing at the steering wheel. It made his day.
Which is great.
And which is also the second time this exact scenario has played out in the past week.
Last week, we were at a closer-to-home park where two buses were waiting for a middle school cross country team to finish its practice. A kindly bus driver who was waiting for her infant grandson to come visit with her daughter invited us aboard.
Both times, the drivers were really gracious and seemed genuinely excited to have a toddler on board. The first was emphatic that she encourages young kids to hop on the bus whenever they show interest because it helps alleviate eventual first day of school jitters.
And it makes The Toddler’s day when we get to do this. I’m just going to have to figure out how to keep up this new hobby of ours without becoming the creep who loiters outside of every parked bus I find.