“The wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round, but that’s not the song that’s playing overhead — it’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” with a few key words changed: Twinkle, twinkle little star, what a wonderful child you are. With bright eyes and nice round cheeks. Intelligent person from head to feet. Driver Mary Petit pushes play on the CD just before pulling into a south-side apartment complex parking lot, where three sleepy toddlers and their caregivers climb aboard. Each kiddo grabs a Bye-Bye Bear from a bag up front — right near the posted Morning Message reminding parents they can handle this, they’re safe, keep breathing — and hands the well-worn stuffed animals to their families, who give the bears hugs and kisses before handing them back, saying their goodbyes and de-boarding. Petit’s been driving a school bus for 19 years, but she’s never had a route quite like this….”
Isthmus cover story, September 15, 2016
I’m particularly drawn to stories of women carving out their places in the world by instinct and grit, not necessarily knowing how (or if) it will all work out—but going ahead and doing it anyway, because it feels right. That’s no small task in terms of personal development, and it’s even more thrilling when it benefits the collective us. For this story, I took a ride I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Special gratitude to skilled photojournalist Lauren Justice for gently and reverently riding shotgun.
—Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin